Monday, May 25, 2009

God and Country vs. the Sixth Commandment

*Content warning: this blog may trouble those who hold blindly to nationalistic loyalties*

A blog I occasionally read took note today of this U.S. holiday to remember those who have died in military service.

Do we honor the dead? Certainly we honor their memory. My favorite brother was a decorated Marine. He was killed in a car accident. Technically, he wouldn't qualify for remembrance today because he did not die in the line of duty.

Do we honor the military? Certainly history shows where military intervention has stopped grievous acts of aggression and ruthless tyranny, restoring democracy and preserving freedom. Yet recent history seems to reflect a drift away from the tenets of Just War. This is not honorable.

National boundaries are drawn by human hands, dividing up our natural world into geographic fiefdoms, each territorial and protective, some grander than others, some nobler than others, but each jealously guarding the borders.

I think my pacifist father must have spent a great deal of time thinking about this as he penned a song about our citizenship being in heaven. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must never lose sight of the fact that national boundaries, governments and military must all take a back seat in our loyalty to the overarching principles God has laid out for us in His Word.

Why else would he prepare us to be persecuted for righteousness sake? If we truly stand for what is right (not just what our nation of birth espouses) we will be going against the tide of society. The sixth commandment pales in comparison to the interpretation Jesus gave when he said hatred was the same as murder.

So rather than entering great philosophical debate about military might or lack thereof, today I honor the memory of all those who have gone before who fought the good fight and kept the faith in their life, service and conduct. May they rest in the arms of the only wise God, the one who has already won the battle and who is the last Word.

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