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A Christian View of War -- Commentary by Ron Gleason

September 20, 2001

President Bush will speak to the nation tonight. His speech will be unique in some important respects. In the first place, his subject will be war. In the second place, Mr. Cheney will not be seated behind him as would normally be the case, but due to heightened national security, he will be in a secure place in the event of another terrorist attack. It boggles the mind to think of the implications of a bombing at a meeting of our national leaders tonight. I don’t even want to go there.

We need precision in our theological language and discussions. In the past weeks I’ve had the opportunity to talk on the phone and via e-mail to some of our “Christian” college students—none of whom were from our congregation. As I spoke with them or wrote to them, I was reminded of the way Christians were affected and actually took over the words and ideologies of the Feminist movement back in the early 1970s. So-called Christians began to speak the same words as Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Germaine Greer, and the other handful that formed the core of that movement. Before long, pastors that used Ephesians 5:22 in wedding services were vilified and criticized. Secularist thought had supplanted or negatively affected Christian truth.

We’re facing something similar today and we need to face it early and squarely lest we get caught up in another set of non-Christian ideologies.

Our Institutions of Higher Learning

We have been warned about our laxity and liberalism for a long time. Back in the 1970s the Soviet dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, issued several warnings to the West. Robert Bork reminded us recently that we are "slouching towards Gomorrah." Allan Bloom outlined the "Closing of the American Mind" in our universities. Numerous voices have warned us and have gone virtually unheeded about what's going on in our universities and colleges throughout the US. Our Christian young people are being pummeled day in and day out with numerous unbiblical notions. The Communists, Socialists, Feminists, and Homosexuals have glutted our institutions of so-called higher learning with their propaganda, affecting both Christians and non-Christians. "Everything is relative," is the motto of our generation.

Some Christian young people wonder out loud what's wrong with shacking up, and some in fact do. Some Christian young people wonder why marriage is necessary for true commitment, and some in fact don't marry. It's true that our young people are impressionable and we can't prevent them from being exposed to various ways of thinking. But we can equip them to think in precise biblical ways and in biblical categories.

Today, some of our young Christians and non-Christians might question whether the US should even be at war. That’s a legitimate question and it needs a biblical answer. Our difficulty is that so many of our young people have been pumped full of liberal nonsense and drivel that they believe what they’ve been taught comports with reality. In a free society there are many things that are “say-able” but not “do-able.” We can argue PC nonsense forever, but where is the ACLU and its screaming about the separation of Church and State with all our politicians praying and calling upon us to pray?

Let me explain what I mean by “liberal drivel.” What many of our students in secular universities are hearing is that what happened on September 11, 2001 was really the fault of the US. They’re being told that the terrorists just became so frustrated that they had no choice except to strike back at us. The terrorists are the real victims.

You hear our young people saying that we should just love bin Laden and not retaliate. I was told Wednesday by a friend that a school in Huntington Beach was not handing out red, white, and blue ribbons for its students, but green ones. Green ones? Yes, green for tolerance. That’s an abomination! You know that I’ve been speaking out quite a bit about men being men. It is way past time for real men to stand up and say No! to terrorism.

How on earth can you be a man and not want to protect children and women? Have we become so effeminate and so wussified that we won’t stand in the gap for women and children? I don’t want to be insensitive, but I truly wish the TV networks would continue to show the footage of those two planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers. I wish someone would show us a photograph of the flight attendant’s body, burned and charred with her hands still wired, handcuff-like, behind her back. Show us the picture of the doll found at “ground zero” in Manhattan that once belonged to a little child who was massacred in cold blood on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 by evil men. What man among us would not stand in the way of anyone that wanted to harm that child?

Repeatedly, the Word of God told God’s people to be strong, take courage, and be men. (See Deut. 31:6-7, 23; Josh. 1:6, 9, 18; 10:25; 1 Chr. 22:13; 28:20; 2 Chr. 32:7) The Bible calls upon us to be trustworthy men (Ex. 18:21), men who fear God (Ex. 18:21), capable men (Ex. 18:25; 1 Chr. 26:6), “point” men (Num. 13:2; 14:38), fighting men (Josh. 1:14; 6:2-3, 13), valiant men (1 Sam. 10:26), upright men (Job 17:8; Ps. 11:7), and men to be emulated (Phil. 2:29), just to mention a few.

But our institutions have told us to be weak-willed, tolerant, perverse, to be cowards, and to be confused about who we are and how God made us. Somehow confusion is supposed to be the hallmark of being an intellectual. I suppose this merely supports and underscores the saying, “Education is going from cocksure ignorance to thoughtful uncertainty.” Just late last night I had a phone call from a college student from New York. She was telling me that one of her male friends had just told her that he was bisexual. I told her he was very confused. She went on to say that he had gone to the Roman Catholic campus priest and was encouraged in his new-found lifestyle. She argued with the priest but got nowhere. You see, this is the kind of thing that goes on all the time in the name of education. Now you know why I’m so upset with academic pinheads.

As I write this, groups are being organized across this country to remove American flags from yards, cars, and houses and to call for forgiveness and no retaliation. These are very confused secularists and Christians.

Is the Bible Anti-War?

The Old Testament describes various types of war for us. Let me just give you a few examples. Abraham waged war against Chedorlaomer (Gen. 14) and his allies to recover the captured Lot and his family. Abraham could have said, “You know Sodom got what it deserved. I’m burning my draft card. It’s really too bad about my nephew Lot but I just need to forgive old Chedo bin Terrorist and show him love and I’ll bet he’ll change.” No way! Abraham went after the aggressors and rescued his relatives and others as well.

In Exodus 17 we read the narrative of Amalek fighting against the Israelites. In military terms, I suppose you could call this a defensive action. Joshua chose men and went out to defend the Israelites. (17:9-10.) The same type of fighting would describe the Israelite military action against the Midianites. (See. Num. 25.)

Deuteronomy even supplies the Israelites with various “laws for warfare.” These laws speak about “enemies,” “courage in the face of opposition,” “the duty of officers prior to combat,” “terms of peace,” “what to do with the trees,” “the care and protection over women and children of captured nations,” and the like.

The words of Genesis 9:6 repeat the truth that when man’s blood is shed there must be retaliation. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” God creates all men in His image. Man has intrinsic value irrespective of whether he acknowledges it or not. God’s ethics requires life for life. In our society this can be the execution of convicted murderers, which is a biblical principle or the execution of warriors in war in the defense of a nation.

Our liberal secular institutions overlook this truth. Of course, many academic pinheads find the belief in a personal holy God primitive and obscene to their highly trained and nonsensically numbed intellects. But the Bible speaks another language and breathes another atmosphere. Revenge belongs to the Lord, but retaliation belongs to a wronged nation.

Is there such a thing as a “just” war? You bet there is! Are we preparing to engage in such a war now? Yes we are. Our civilian casualties are going to be in excess of 5,000 and we’d better never forget those civilians that died on September 11, 2001. But this raises the question about civilians and war. Won’t civilians lose their lives overseas?

Civilian Collateral Damage

With the exception of wars that were fought on near isolated plains, there have always been civilian casualties in wars. As one female radio commentator put it recently to a caller, “That’s war, honey.” Ironically, a woman had to tell a man that.

No one ever rejoices that civilians lose their lives. But I want you to remember what Hitler did to thousands of civilians in World War II. Recall what the North Koreans did to countless civilians in the Korean Conflict. Bring to mind the atrocities upon civilians in the Viet Nam Conflict. And make no doubt about it, if we do not retaliate, there will be more and more “World Trade Center” episodes and more American civilians will die. To think otherwise is unconscionable and naïve.

The language that terrorists understand best is swift, decisive, and complete retaliation. The nations overseas that have harbored, harbor, supported, and continue to support terrorists and terrorists organizations will continue to do so. Countries that allow the Taliban to rule them ought to rise up and get rid of them. They are evil. For women and children to be protected we must act with an armed response.

What about the New Testament?

“Well, wait a minute!” some are saying. “All that previous stuff is Old Testament. We are a New Testament Church.” That’s right we are, but that doesn’t mean that the Old Testament no longer applies and that there aren’t numerous principles for us to follow from the Older Covenant.

It is remarkable what John the Baptizer doesn’t say to the soldiers that come to him and ask him, “And what about us, what shall we do?” He doesn’t say, “Well, boys, why don’t you go out and get some green tolerance ribbons to show your solidarity with me?” He doesn’t tell them to get out of the military or that what they’re doing being soldiers is illegitimate. He tells them to carry out their profession honorably. We also read about soldiers coming to faith and not a word is mentioned about them becoming AWOL or being draft dodgers. (Matthew 8; Acts 10.)

Jesus himself uses illustrations of war and battle to make his spiritual points. (Luke 14:31.) In fact, it is this “gentle Jesus meek and mild” that shocks us all by violently driving people out of the Temple. (See Matt. 21:12 & John 2:15.)

As I’ve already alluded to, Romans 13:1-4 reminds us that the civil magistrate or government does not bear the “sword” in vain. The sword is the symbol of retribution and retaliation. Retributive justice is not the same as personal revenge. God has ordained the police, the civil magistrate, and the military to execute retribution upon those that wrongfully take the life of man.

Of course, modern academia speaks of restoring the murderer. So they let them out of prison only to have them murder again. Unfortunately, there are Christians today who oppose the death penalty. Such is the nature of our muddleheaded thinking.

;Doesn’t Jesus call upon Us to turn the Other Cheek?

In Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29 Jesus says to turn the other cheek. Those texts are being turned into “wax noses” today. Some Christians are urging us to be pacifists and descry retaliation. But I ask you, how many men among us would not defend ours families and our homes against someone who was trying to break in to harm our wives, our children, and us? Saying No is say-able. Doing nothing in the face of that stark reality is a sign of cowardice on your part. Even women would fight to protect their children. I say this to the utter shame of men—who call themselves men—and would deny their God-given common sense to protect and defend.

Taken to its illogical conclusion, turning the other cheek would be tantamount to standing by, watching, and praying while someone raped our wife and murdered our children. Obviously, obviously, this does not comport with what the Bible teaches about the sanctity of life. This kind of explanation of those texts is weak-willed and mushy-headed.

Indeed, Christians are to have a disposition of forgiveness in all situations. I can think of many instances where I need to be forgiven and need to forgive. That must be my disposition in light of what God in Christ has done for me. So if someone truly repents and asks me to forgive them, I must in light of what my Savior has done for me.

To this point no one has asked to be forgiven. Has Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein asked to be forgiven? No, but even if they had they might have to live with the consequences of what they have done.

We fail to remember that in our easy, soft society. We want our problems to “go away.” So when they do, we don’t want to acknowledge that there are any consequences to our actions. Make no mistake, decisions and actions have consequences. Sometimes we must live with those consequences of even die because of them. Murderers may be forgiven, but then executed. Young women who have children may be forgiven, but will have to raise a child. Male homosexuals may be forgiven, but may still die from AIDS. Actions have consequences.


The Bible speaks of “just” wars. I’m convinced that what we are about to embark on is, in fact, such a war. Our military is doing the right thing to protect this country and its citizens from evil and terrorism. In all this I’m not saying that America is God’s chosen people. I’m saying that the Bible does not speak against US retaliation in this instance.

Ron Gleason is the pastor of Grace Presbtyerian Church in Yorba Linda, California. He's married, with six children. Ron currently holds Ph.D. (Systematic Theology) from Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. He has studied at the Free University of Amsterdam, and then at the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, where he earned a Drs. (doctorandus) degree, with honors. He has also studied at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he earned an M.Div. and graduated magna cum laude (or as he likes to say, Lawdy! Lawdy! Lawdy!). His B.S. degree in Economics was earned at The Citadel.

Ron is the publisher of Ethos, an online magazine, where this article recently appeared.

©2001 Ron Gleason / Renewed Life Ministries.

"It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." --Samuel Adams

"The Democrats want to 'go slow' when disarming Saddam Hussein, but they waste no time trying to get guns out of the hands of innocent, law-abiding Americans. If that's not hypocritical, I don't know what is." --Rush Limbaugh

"Everyone must be free in conscience and free in public exercise to accept, or to reject, the Judeo-Christian God. So runs the Jewish and Christian conception of God, conscience, and liberty." --Michael Novak

"Mediocre minds usually dismiss anything which reaches beyond their own understanding." --Francois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld

"We need to teach our kids why social [Leftists] -- including, sometimes, their teachers -- claim that all violence and anger are wrong: It's an expression of hostility toward America itself and an inadequate understanding of sin and the need for justice. And we must make sure that they know why -- in the face of great evil -- getting angry isn't wrong. It's the necessary prologue to justice." --Chuck Colson

("L'chakima b'ramiza, l'shatya b'kormiza." -- "A wise person will take a subtle hint. To make an idiot understand requires the use of a fist." -- Medrash Mishlei, Chapter 22

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." George Orwell

Just because you can beat him up doesn't give you the right to. Remember, with great power comes with great responsibility." -- Ben Parker

Hey, Have you ever noticed how the really gorgeous people aren't afraid to post their pictures...? ;-)

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I was born in May 1970. I am Christian,(NOT A PACIFIST CHRISTIAN - go to

Christians and Guns
Frontline Fellowship
The Christian at War

to read some other good articles about Christians and war) married, a stay at home mom of three, I hunt, fish, and love animals (yes those things *are* compatible). I took weekly private violin lessons from age 7 to 18, piano from age 5 to 14. I played oboe in high school concert band and sax in pep band. I have been singing all my life but didn't take formal lessons until college. Of course, my dad had his Masters degree in music and was a voice teacher himself so I was kind of under his continual tutelage, plus my mother had/has an incredible soprano voice and could have been pro if she had wanted that kind of life. (So I had an example before my 'ears' all the time.) I am not as flexible vocally as she was in her prime but I don't put as much time into practicing as she did then either. I am more flexible stylewise. While she has trouble with more contemporary rhythrms and melodies, I can do both classical or contemporary.

When I was 13 I began manifesting symptoms of a disorder called Trichotillomania and I didn't know what the heck was going on. None of us did. We all thought I was going crazy. It wasn't until I was about 17 or 18 that we heard about the disorder. High school of course is miserable business if there is anything different about you. As if being conservative and liking traditionally male activities wasn't enough to make me stick out, I started pulling out my hair and eyelashes and eyebrows and couldn't stop myself. I basically had to work with all my concentration to fight the idea that no one would ever love or marry me because I was so horrid looking.

By the time I was heading off to college I made the decision to be straight up about my hair problem and not try to keep it a secret from people. I had spent some time posting to the trichotillomania bulletin board in 1995 and 1996 but I got tired of the victim mentality of my fellow trich sufferers. Most of what keeps you paralyzed and miserable is the fear of rejection - so they try to hide it from their loved ones, even to the point of trying to hide it from their live in boyfriends or husbands. I couldn't subject myself to that kind of stress so I made the decision, like I said, to be up front. It really is the best way to deal with it. People have always been very understanding and no one has ever avoided me like I imagined in the beginning, because of it. I feel more comfortable because I don't have to worry about hiding, and they feel more comfortable because they aren't always wondering whether I'm dying of cancer or something! lol. Although I will say it is sometimes hard to find the right way to bring it up. People aren't sure if they should ask, and it's rather ungraceful to bring it up out of the blue myself. So I listen very carefully when getting to know anyone, for an opportunity to bring it up and get it taken care of. There are drugs that can help, mostly SRI's which can cause liver damage. So I'd rather keep off them and see if I can't work out a behavioral therapy solution over time. I hate the idea of being on drugs chronically for anything.

I discovered the 1950 version of Cyrano De Bergerac with Jose Ferrer and I can't tell you how deeply that affected me. Cyrano is exactly how I felt for so long. I raved about it to my boyfriend/now husband and later on he gave me the movie for Christmas. I still cry when I watch it. It is an absolute classic EVERYONE should have in their library.

I love dogs, especially terriers with their creative way of thinking. I do prefer dogs with whiskers and eyebrows! I had one that looked like a Border Terrier/cockapoo mix when I was in my early teens and she went everywhere with me. She wonderful - she was my fishing buddy but she was gunshy so hunting never worked out with her. She is on my homepage along with pics of my other dogs. My other dog Kala was a great little hunting partner and helped me bag many rabbits and squirrels. She was steady as a rock under the gun. Ernie (my present dog - a large black, airedale mix) is working on that part, but he's getting the idea that guns can mean FUN for him.

Since June 15 2003 we have added a female airedale puppy to the mix and she is WONDERFUL! Her breeder tells me she spends some time on FR but I can't figure out who she is. :-) A good Republican anyhow! I hope to do some kind of work with this new pup, hunting, agility, therapy dog, whatever! I can tell she will be wonderful as long as I can get my act together. Heh heh.

In February 2007 we added a third airedale to the crowd, and her name is Katie.

I also have an ever expanding flock of birds: 2 Gouldian finches and their single surviving youngster from this year
2 Cordon Blue waxbills
2 society finches
2 scarlet chested parakeets
4 shafttail finches
2 Strawberry finches

I am not bashful about answering most questions so please don't feel uncomfortable asking.

"Let us make war on the phrase'violence doesn't solve anything.' It is a lie, and anyone who utters it cannot be taken morally seriously." --Dennis Prager

"There is simply no way that a mother can reach the pinnacle of the professional world, whether in politics or business, without feeling she's short-changing her kids." --Linda Chavez

 "Marx was wrong when he said that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.  The second time is tragedy too." --Charles Krauthammer

"I think it would have been far more reflective of his administration if Clinton simply had raised the money to buy the Mustang Ranch and rename it the Clinton Library and Massage Parlor." --Rush Limbaugh