For the past 10 days or so, we have witnessed the spectacle of the rulers and authorities of the kingdoms of this world plotting and planning whether or not to further submerge humanity in the maelstrom of war. Presidents and prime ministers, parliaments and congresses, princes and potentates carry on debates behind closed doors, in the print media, online, and in the news and interviews broadcast into your homes – shall we “punish” the evildoer? Shall we “send a message”? Shall we “defend our national interests”?
Lost in all the debate are some key issues:
- Who will suffer when the missiles are unleashed on Syria?
We know the answer – it is the common people of Syria, already under immense suffering and privation after two years of drought, famine, and civil war, who will bear the brunt of American warfare. (For further reading, take a look at this perspective from Trappist nuns in Syria, posted recently by Rod Dreher.)
- Answering the first question leads to a second: how does killing more innocent Syrians with American missiles punish those who allegedly used chemical weapons to kill innocent Syrians? Or to put it another way, how exactly are American missile strikes humanitarian?
- The Christian church in the Middle East is being destroyed before our eyes. The Islamist rebels in Syria are killing Christians, destroying their meeting places, and beheading their elders and leaders. The church in Iraq was destroyed over the last decade as a consequence of the American invasion (ironically, many Iraqi Christians fled to Syria). The Coptic Church in Egypt has undergone extreme persecution during the last year under the Muslim Brotherhood, and is now being decimated by the Islamists while the American-sponsored military government looks on. How will American missile strikes stop the current massacre of Syrian Christians by the Islamist rebels? Won’t American military attacks against the Syrian government only make the killing of Syrian Christians more likely?
Where is the voice of the American church in this debate? Where do the leaders of the Christian denominations stand? Do they stand for the principles of the Prince of Peace and His people? Or do they promote patriotism and “saving face” for the President of the United States?
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
– Psalm 2 (ESV)