March 25, 2007

A failure to engage in a just war is a failure of Charity

From the essay Good Wars, by Darrell Cole...

...The moral approach to war in Aquinas and Calvin is refreshing for those familiar with modern Christian approaches to warfare—approaches which, more often than not, do little to help Christians understand why they should be prepared to participate in or support war of any kind. Aquinas and Calvin, in contrast, teach Christian soldiers why they need to participate in and support just wars. From the divine point of view, God desires to restrain evil among His creatures. And in using human beings to do so, God actually elevates the restrainers...

...The most noteworthy aspect of the moral approach to warfare in Aquinas and Calvin is that it teaches—contrary to today’s prevailing views—that a failure to engage in a just war is a failure of virtue, a failure to act well. An odd corollary of this conclusion is that it is a greater evil for Christians to fail to wage a just war than it is for unbelievers. When an unbeliever fails to go to war, the cause may be a lack of courage, prudence, or justice. He may be a coward or simply indifferent to evil. These are failures of natural moral virtue. When Christians (at least in the tradition of Aquinas and Calvin) fail to engage in just war, it may involve all of these natural failures as well, but it will also, and more significantly, involve a failure of charity. The Christian who fails to use force to aid his neighbor when prudence dictates that force is the best way to render that aid is an uncharitable Christian. Hence, Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war do a vicious thing: they fail to show love toward their neighbor as well as toward God...

I blogged this quote once before, years ago. It bears repeating. Those "modern Christian approaches to warfare" he mentions are usually just mushy warmed-over lefty nihilism and anti-Americanism. Especially in senior churchmen, who tend to be of my generation, and are steeped in the rubbishing thought of the 60's.

Also, when I hunted-up this quote, I happened upon a comment left in a similar post by blogger John Byrnes, that is still very applicable...

This idea is not only consistent with Catholic doctrine, and Christian philosophy, it is, despite the blustering of the Kofi Annans and Jaque Chiracs, a perfectly just cause for war under International Law as well. International law today calls on its constitutent nations to enforce its tenets. While this law directly supports national sovereignty, it also outlaws crimes against humanity such as genocide. Outlaws them to the point that such crimes are undermining of legitimate sovereignty itself, and are grounds for intervention. The US action in Iraq was technically legal on that basis alone. Nevermind UN Resolutions 1330 et al. Your neighbors house is sacrosanct, even from police without a warrant, unless you can hear him mudering his children, then no warrant is required...

Most of today's "pacifism" is really "hearing the neighbor murdering his children," and saying, "Sorry kids, Jesus told us to turn the other cheek."

I should learn more about international law, but really, what would be the point. I've been blogging since just after 9/11, and have never yet succeeded in having any rational debate with anti-war lefties. For them "international law" means whatever will hinder the US and her allies at that particular moment, and no amount of counter-argument will make the slightest difference.

Posted by John Weidner at March 25, 2007 8:53 AM
Weblog by John Weidner