Our national security experts aren’t rattling nuclear swords. Christian leaders are the ones championing the potential death of millions.
As we stand on the brink of fire and fury, we’re also hearing a lot of fire and brimstone.
This week, a Central Indiana pastor, Marc Monte, took to Twitter to proclaim: “N Korea can’t say they were not warned. One misstep, and we’re going to light them up! Thank you, @POTUS.”
I see a lot of nonsense, from all sides, on social media (I’m sure you do as well), and almost always, I ignore it. Time and energy are too precious to expend on Twitter wars.
But the thought of a Christian pastor championing the death of potentially millions of innocent people was too much. So I called him out, respectively suggesting that perhaps a pastor should pray for peace.
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His response: “Of course we pray for peace. But I’m glad for a @POTUS who is not afraid to fight when necessary.”
There’s a lot to unpack in those sentences, about the mingling of the sacred and the political, about the devaluation of spiritual discipline (“of course we pray, but”), about the ease with which we write off as expendable people we don’t know.
Yet even then, I was ready to walk away, because … well, because, I’d rather not fight.
Then I read a USA Today headline: “Trump’s evangelical adviser: God’s OK with U.S. bombing North Korea.” The adviser is Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, who told the Christian Broadcasting Network that the book of Romans gives “rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil.”
Admittedly, I’m old-fashioned, but I believe that someone blessed to be a spiritual adviser to the most powerful person on the planet ought to lean more toward Matthew 8 (Jesus calms the storm) than Genesis 19 (the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah).
Let’s let the Joint Chiefs advise the commander in chief on when or whether to unleash hell. Spiritual advisers, I would hope, are there to say: “Consider the humanity.”
You know, the 25 million people who happen to call North Korea home. Or the 51 million people in South Korea who also might be singed if fire and fury falls.
Perhaps, though, I’m just not worldly enough to understand these things. Perhaps these days, it’s church leaders who are called to mount the charge into battle. All of that “blessed are the meek” and “love your neighbor” sentiment is so First Century.
Yes, I understand that North Korea poses an imminent threat. I understand that we’ve arrived here on the edge of an abyss after two decades of bipartisan and multilateral failure. And I accept that at some point we may have to send young Americans into battle to stop a murderous tyrant.
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If it were James Mattis, John Kelly, Dan Coats and other national security advisers saying we must go, then perhaps we must. But so far they haven’t said we’ve run out of other options. Instead, it’s pastors who are rattling nuclear swords and guiding their congregations to do the same.
Again, I’m old-fashioned. I decided a long time ago to follow a leader who said it’s the peacemakers who are blessed.
Tim Swarens is the opinion editor of The Indianapolis Star, where this column first appeared. Follow him on Twitter: @tswarens
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