Progressing Abortion and Killing Society

A stomach-churning video has gone viral over the last 24 hours. In the State of Virginia, House Democrats are pushing a Bill that will legalise late-term abortion, just days after New York State adopted similar legislation. Kathy Tran, a Democrat delegate, responded to questions by admitting that the Bill will permit abortion even as late as when a woman has entered labor.

Kathy Tran: “My bill would allow abortion up to 40 weeks.”

Todd Gilbert: “Where it’s obvious a woman is about to give birth…would that be a point at which she could still request an abortion?”

Kathy Tran: “My bill would allow that, yes”

You can watch the video here:

I am again writing about this issue, less because of what is unfolding in the USA, but because I’m reminded of what is already practiced and accepted in my home State of Victoria.

In 2016, then member of the Victorian Legislative Council, Rachel Carling-Jenkins, presented a Bill hoping to overturn a 2008 law which legalised late-term abortions.

The law allows women in Victoria to have an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, right up until the time of birth. All that is required is for two doctors to give approval.

The Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 stipulates that late-term abortions are permissible so long as two medical practitioners “reasonably believe that the abortion is appropriate in all the circumstances”. “Circumstances” is defined as the medical practitioner having regard to

“(a) all relevant medical circumstances; and

(b) the woman’s current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances.”

The Bill was defeated 27 votes to 11.

At the time I did not engage in the conversation. Perhaps I was busy. Maybe I was focusing on other matters of importance. I remember a debate taking place in Parliament but to my shame, it wasn’t on my radar as it ought.

If there is one thing I have learned over the past few years is that evil doesn’t slow down its agenda simply because we are paying attention or not paying attention. No one can address every act of immorality and speak to every grave issue facing the world; we need an omnipotent and loving God. However, when we can speak, should we not give voice to those who cannot speak for themselves?

Societal shift on abortion has been swift. In the space of three years, we’ve witnessed the culture move from justifying abortion to celebrating abortion, from permitting the practice during the early weeks of pregnancy to licensing third-trimester abortions, even when these very same infants could survive and live outside the womb.

Understand, these laws are not about saving the life of the mother, for, in such rare and terrifying circumstances, the life of the mother is surely and already prioritised. The aim in those rare situations is not to kill the child but to save the life of the mother. This is far from where the abortion argument now finds itself. The newly adopted law in New York State, the proposed Bill in Virginia, and the current practice in Victoria where I live do not require the mother’s life to be at risk. The grounds are,  can she persuade a doctor (in Victoria the law requires 2 Drs) that she no longer wishes to keep the pregnancy. As the harrowing video reveals, this decision can be made as late as during labor.

According to the Victorian State Government’s health website, in 2016, 14.9% of all perinatal deaths in Victoria were accounted by abortions for “maternal psychosocial indications”. 40.32% of all late-term abortions (from 20 weeks) are for “psychosocial” reasons, meaning there is nothing wrong with the baby or physical health of the mother.  Please note, my understanding is that these numbers include terminations that occurred in hospitals and does not include abortions that take place in clinics.

If the pronouncements of these lawmakers aren’t enough to turn the stomach, Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam, today suggested that the life of a newborn child can be legitimately ended if that is the wish of the mother and attending physician.

“If a mother is in labor…the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians & mother”

This is not a slippery slope, this is the natural outworking of an ethic without God. This is the world of Peter Singer. 20 years ago many people sneered at some of Singer’s views and found them repugnant. Today, much of his thinking has become the norm in Western countries. His utilitarian thinking supports the killing of lesser human beings, those who are disabled and are considered less than fully functioning. Singer’s arguments supporting infanticide are now finding their way into mainstream politics and legislative agendas. Have we not learned from history? Are not past stories of the mass killing of innocence enough to steer us from ever going there again? The answer is, no. Our civilised and progressive societies are eager to venture into those dark hellish places once again.

What makes our society even more culpable than past societies is that we are committing the same sins but with greater knowledge and with greater ability. Modern knowledge reveals truths about how babies are formed in the womb, things that were once believed but could not be seen until the invention of ultrasounds. We can see the heartbeat of a baby in the earliest weeks. We can delight at a child’s fingers and toes growing at 6 weeks. We now know that babies can hear and respond to music by 16 weeks; the next Mozart is already learning to feel and marvel at the beauty of sound.

Medical advancements give us unparalleled ability to care for both mother and child, to even perform surgery on a baby while it is in the womb. When these little ones surprise us by coming into the world early we have the know-how to save the lives of these children as young as 22 weeks.

This is a grotesque reality in which we live: despite superior knowledge of human life in the womb and superior medical technology to save life, our commitment to destroying life has also increased.

I suspect some readers will respond with partial agreement; you dislike late-term abortions, but you don’t have a problem with ending a pregnancy during the first trimester. This is not an uncommon position to hold.

May I respond by asking you this question, at what point can we draw an absolute moral line? At what point can we justify the moral shift from being okay with killing the child to believing it is not okay?  Is the moral threshold when the baby begins to feel pain? Is it the moment cognitive awareness starts? Is it the week when their limbs have formed? Is it the moment the heart begins to beat? There is no ontological moment during a pregnancy at which we can argue, at this stage, it is okay to abort a child.

This needs to stop.

I understand that this issue is very real and personal for many women in our society. I don’t want to ignore the pain and guilt thousands of women experience following an abortion. To them, I say, there is hope of forgiveness and renewal for those who seek it.

How different is the answer that we find with the God of the Bible. The Bible insists that every human being, from the moment of conception, is precious and made in the image of God. Gender, age, health, mental faculties, physical appearance, do not detract from a person’s inestimable worth.

Jesus loved the unwanted. Throughout his three years of ministry, Jesus was known for befriending and caring for those whom society thought little and had often neglected. No one was too insignificant for him to take interest in and show love.

On one occasion we are told,

“A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” (Matthew 8:2-3)

Jesus didn’t stop there, the extent of love that God demonstrated was found on a Roman cross, where the Son of God sacrificed his life for the salvation of others.

“Surely he took up our pain

    and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

    stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

A Christian QandA: But where was the Gospel?

Tonight’s ABC’s QandA program was purposed to examine the role of Christianity in Australian society today.

Interestingly, two hours prior to the show, I tweeted a question to which many of my Christian friends responded, ‘no, they would not be watching the program’. It seems as though lots of people are dubious about QandA’s capacity to present a fair and reasonable picture of Christianity, which is perhaps has some warrant based on previous programs.  I guess I include myself among the sceptics, but overall such doubts were given the boot. The show was presented well, and the rudeness scale from some previous episodes dropped off significantly.

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The program though didn’t quite start of the right footing, with Julia Baird exclaiming, “Everyone on the panel is a Christian.” Hmmm, really? There were some pretty dubious theologies up there tonight. But then I remembered how Julia recently referred to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a cult who reject Christianity, as ‘conservative Christian’. That aside, Julia Baird did a fine job at facilitating the proceedings.

The Panel

On the panel was John Haldane (a Scottish Catholic who is a Papal advisor to the Vatican), Julie McCrossin (radio & tv personality, and gay rights activist), Ray Minniecon (Pastor & Chairperson of the Sydney Anglican Indigenous People’s Committee), Tiffany Sparks (Anglican minister in Brisbane), and Lyle Shelton (Director of ACL).

Given the program’s topic, one would have thought the ABC would invite Australia’s most notable Christian voices: where was Peter Adam, Peter Jensen, Brian Rosner, John Dickson, Michael Jensen, Justine Toh, and many others? I understand why Lyle Shelton was chosen, and Ray Minniecon, but the other panelists? McCrossin and Sparks represent what is at best a fringe and frayed interpretation of Christianity. John Haldane is from out of town and struggled to comment on Australian cultural particulars, although he did add a sense of intellectual gravitas that was otherwise missing at times.

Having said that, QandA is not (nor is it meant to be) an orthodox Christian program, and the producers no doubt have pressures on them to diversify the panel and encourage as many sparks as possible.

The Questions:

The most interesting part of the show was seeing what questions people were asking:

  • When a 16yo is arrested for terrorism is it time for us to consider if we have failed to nurture our sons?
  • Do the churches share responsibility for failing to articulate the Christian principles of a ‘just war’?
  • There was a question about Eric Metaxas and his alleged comparison between Nazi Germany and debates over sexuality.
  • Why are churches in Australia so silent when it comes to climate change?
  • What role should our churches be playing for true reconciliation in our nation today?Do Church leaders recognise the role that patriarchal hierarchies & theologies play in DV?
  • Is what the Bible describes a more realistic view of our world or have the secularists got it right?

Apart from the final question, no one asked about the veracity of Christian beliefs (is it true or not), rather, people wanted to know whether Christianity is good (good being defined in a variety of ways). That is worth reflecting on from an apologetic and evangelistic perspective. But also, for many of the questions, including the climate change and indigenous recognition, Christians have been actively speaking on these issues, and yet it seems as though the public hasn’t listened (ABC viewers at least!). This raises an important question for Christians as we seek to speak into society: why are we not being heard? How can we work better at clearly presenting our views?

The Conversation:

It is best to watch the program for answers to the specific questions, for here I only wish to offer one comment, which to me sums up the program:

Where was the Baptist tonight? Yes, that’s tongue in cheek…sort of. Baptists are in fact one of the few Christian denominations growing across Australia, and yet there was no room for one? Leaving the facetious aside,

Why was an entire episode of a ‘Christian’ Qanda without any mention of the crux of the Christian faith, the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

I remember an episode with Peter Jensen and one with John Dickson, where both sought to explain the Gospel and give a reason for the hope they have. Tonight, the entire program was addressing matters from a Christian perspective and yet where was a faithful and clear articulation of the Gospel, even in a single sentence? The closest we came was when Lyle Shelton made passing reference to Christ laying down his life, and when Ray Minniecon called Australians to ‘repentance’. 

Of course, television programs (and the media in general), have little interest in the actual message of Christianity;  it is easier and more contentious to focus on moral questions. These questions are important, and as a Christian I believe the Bible gives us answers, but Christianity is not moralism. This is one of the potential dangers for groups like the Australian Christian Lobby. While I agree with many of their statements, they can be guilty of presenting a Christianity that is defined by a set of moral values, but that is a faulty view of Christianity. This is not questioning their orthodoxy, but the only message we have is  is the good news message of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died on a cross and rose from the dead for the salvation of everyone who believes in Him.

‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ (2 Corinthians 5:21)

‘I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’ (Philippians 3:8)

As Julia Baird summed up the final question, she gave the panel every opportunity. She asked, ‘is it down to God’s grace or human endeavour?’ There I sat, pleading, would some one please explain the good news of Jesus Christ? Would someone at least say, ‘yes, it’s God’s grace’. What an opportunity to articulate the truth and beauty and power of God’s grace, but no. I was saddened to hear no minister of the Gospel say yes to God’s grace.

I was saddened. I was not surprised to hear Julie McCrossin and Tiffany Sparks contradicting Biblical truths; that’s what ‘progressives’ do; they throw away those things in the Bible that contravene their liberal views. But still, as Australians listened tonight to Christian leaders expound their beliefs, they will go to sleep none the wiser, yes, hearing some Christian ideas and thoughts, but almost nothing about the message which is Christianity. 

What I heard tonight was, Christians have opinions about lots of issues, just like everyone else. I heard, Christians disagree a lot. I heard, people have the capacity to change.

This ‘Christian’ QandA ended up sounding more like a Jane Austen novel set in Victorian England, acknowledging some things Christian, but with very little appeal to the Christ of Christianity and to the grace of God which Christians do trust, rejoice in, and want other Australians to know.

Answers to Difficult Questions

This Sunday at Mentone Baptist Church we are beginning a 3 week apologetic series, examining 3 hot topics:

1. Should Christians object to same-sex marriage? (April 3rd)

2. What is a Christian response to refugees? (April 10th)

3. Is the a reason for suffering (April 17)

Everyone is welcome to join us. Following each service there will be a QandA session to explore in further detail questions relating to these topics

ApologeticsforWeb

 

Religion Makes us Meaner

I agree.

Like sharks smelling a drop of blood, the media is swarming around the latest ‘religion is bad’ news story. This time, it comes in the form of a report that has been published in the journal Current ­Biology, by a group of researchers at Chicago University.

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Research leader, Dr Jean Decety, has said, “Together, these results reveal the similarity across countries in how religion negatively influences children’s altruism. They challenge the view that religiosity facilitates prosocial behavior, and call into question whether religion is vital for moral development—suggesting the secularization of moral discourse does not reduce human kindness. In fact, it does just the opposite,”¹

That is one gargantuan call to make, and with significant implications should the assertion be true.

The Australian newspaper offered this helpful summary of the study (Nov 6):

“In the study, more than 1100 kids aged between five and 12 were asked to share stickers with anonymous schoolmates. The subjects lived in North America, the Middle East, South Africa and China, and included Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus.

Those from agnostic and atheist households consistently proved less likely to keep the best stickers to themselves. “The more religious the parents, the less altruistic the children, irrespective of the religion,” Dr Decety told The Australian.

He attributed the findings to a phenomenon dubbed “moral licensing”, where people’s perceptions that they were doing good — in this case, practising religion — exempted them from the obligation to perform other worthy deeds. “Apparently, doing something that helps strengthen our positive self-image also makes us less worried about the consequences of immoral behaviour,” he said.

The study also found that when the children were shown videos of “mundane” affronts, such as people bumping and pushing each other, religious kids were more inclined to decide harsh punishment was warranted. Dr Decety said this supported previous findings that organised religion promoted intolerance and punitiveness.”

I agree…in part.

I affirm the idea that religion can make people meaner and more selfish. This idea is hardly new, Christians have understood this since its earliest days, and it conforms to what the Bible has been saying since it was first written, millennia ago.

As Tim Keller put it in The Reason for God, “Those who believe they have pleased God by the quality of their devotion and moral goodness naturally feel that they and their group deserve deference and power over others. The God of Jesus and the prophets, however, saves completely by grace. He cannot be manipulated by religious and moral performance–he can only be reached through repentance, through the giving up of power. If we are saved by sheer grace we can only become grateful, willing servants of God and of everyone around us.”

According to Roman ch.1 religion stems from suppressing what is true, and creating and then depending upon things that are not true for meaning and salvation.

Subsequently, it is unsurprising to learn that religion is largely about self-justification; it is the human attempt to persuade God and others of one’s worthiness and goodness. Religion is about doing things and saying things in order to win God’s favour. Even acts of kindness can be a cover for gaining approval and for feeling better or happier about oneself. In other words, we shouldn’t be surprised to find that religion can make people, even children, mean.

The study doesn’t only suggest that religion makes children mean, it would have us believe that atheism makes children kind. Does unbelief enhance out potential for true altruism? A survey of non Government welfare agencies and charities will be hard pressed to find more than a handful that don’t have their foundations and funding in organised religion, especially Christianity. How many atheistic organisations can you think of that are working in our local communities and across the world to care for the poor and needy?

The average Australian gives away less than $200 each year, whereas Christians give on average, 5-9% of their annual income, and many give considerably more².

While I know some very friendly atheists, atheists are also among the most intolerant people in our society; listen to how many journalists, politicians, and social commentators now address Christians. For not subscribing to the secular agenda, Christians are labelled stupid and bigots, and Christian programs are being shutdown across the country.

History and contemporary society demonstrate that both religion and atheism are a problem. Should we debate who is worse, ISIS or Stalin? Surely evil is evil, whether it is perpetrated by the religious or irreligious.

How then, do we explain the findings of this outcome?

While I’m not dismissing the research, there are problems. For example,

1. In my opinion the study does not adequately differentiate between nominal religious believers and those who actually practice their religion. In particular, I am thinking of the distinction between Gospel (or Evangelical) Christianity and cultural Christianity. The use of the Duke Religiosity Questionaire may be useful as a sociology calculator but it is a poor theological and spiritual one.

2. The findings don’t properly differentiate between various religions. Islam and Christianity are at times lumped together, while other religions didn’t receive a large enough sample size to warrant analysis.

3. The research is making strong claims based upon limited research. Children completed a game and parents filled out a questionnaire, and from this we can now confirm that non religious families exude greater kindness than religious families? I think we call that, overreach.   

4. “Children from religious households favored stronger punishments for anti-social behavior and judged such behavior more harshly than non-religious children”. Why is this deemed a negative? It is quite possible that children from religious families have a stronger moral compass and therefore a greater sense of justice.

5. The study involved children from 6 countries: Canada, China, Jordan, South Africa, Turkey and the United States. To what extent have the researchers accounted for cultural differences, and how these affect the way children behave? The way that culture and religion relate in Jordan is different from China and indeed the USA.

In my view, there are simply too many questions for people to be jumping on the bandwagon. Remember, this is one study, and it is worth noting that its findings conflict with other research that has been conducted in recent times, which have found that belief in God makes people happier and more community oriented (https://murraycampbell.net/2015/09/24/new-evidence-suggests-that-the-closure-of-sri-was-a-mistake/).

Dr Decety and the team from Chicago University have driven us to an all to familiar dead end street: we want to maintain that religion and irreligion are our only options, but there is a third way. That is why the message of Christianity is so subversive and why it does not fit with the dimensions of human expectations.

Christianity teaches that everyone is sinful, yes, even children. Isn’t it ironic that when Christians make this suggestion it is called ‘child abuse’, and when secular academics make the same observation it is called science! We shouldn’t be surprised to learn that young children exhibit selfish and judgemental traits; it is human nature. Sometimes we clothe it in God-speech and promises of eternal reward, and other times we simply call upon humanitarianism.

Altruism is unattainable because we simply cannot do it. Both religious and non religious people are capable of love and acts of kindness, but inconsistently, partially, and often for self-seeking reasons. The history of the world is our autobiography, and we are seriously kidding ourselves if we think that we have climbed up the evolutionary tree: domestic violence in 1 in 3 Australian homes, over 80,000 unborn children killed each year, the revelations on Ashley Madison, cruel Asylum Seeker policies, ka-ching and the masterminds behind the pokies industry, and on and on.

But in Jesus Christ we see perfect love, selfless service and sacrifice for the good of others; he is uncompromising in holiness and generous in mercy:

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”. (1 John 4:10)

This is the essence of Christianity:

“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” (Tim Keller)

When a person comes to know this declaration of God’s love, they are changed, forgiven and liberated to truly love God with our whole being and to love our neighbour. It changes us to give without expectation of return, and to sacrifice for the good of those who despite us. Religion and irreligion are proven dead ends, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ promises a light that changes how we see everything.

——————

  1. http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/11/05/religious-upbringing-associated-less-altruism-study-finds
  2. See NCLS research for information regarding giving habits of Australian Christians. A summary of broader Australian giving can be found here – http://www.businessinsider.com.au/here-are-the-top-20-most-generous-suburbs-in-australia-2014-5

War and justice, where conflict meets

12 Bible Propositions about the Ethics of War

During the week the Government announced that they would be stepping up their bombing offensive against ISIS in Syria. Subsequently, the debate over the ethics of war has once again resurfaced.
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The question I am seeking to address here is somewhat narrower, should Christians to ever support war? Could participating in war be consistent with Christian faith?
Answering these questions is no easy task, partly due to the fact that the Scriptures do not give us a definitive position, and partly because the rationale and particulars of one armed conflict will differ to the next. And in every conflict there are multifarious motives, aims, and experiences which combined deny us the possibility of simple and obtuse theorems about war.
Historically, Christians have come to different conclusions regarding the practice of war. We cannot ignore the fact that there have times when ‘in the name of Christ’ many anti-Christ acts have been committed. Sins of commission have stained history blood red, and perhaps so have sins of omission. Christians must not build their theology of war from either Gandhi or Napoleon, but rather it stems from the belief that God is the Lord of history and that he has given a book that speaks truth and wisdom, even in the 21st Century.
In attempting to construct a theology of war there are a series of theological propositions that must not be ignored or relegated:

Continuity

1. The God of the New Testament is the God of the Old Testament. Christians are not Marcionites. God is not honoured by the fallacious suggestion that the God of the Old Testament is a different God to the New Testament, or that his character has changed, or that in the Old Testament God was wrong to make war. God’s character is eternal and unchanging.
2. God is holy and just. God’s acts of violence are described as God’s just judgements on sinners. He is a holy God who cannot tolerate sin. Should God tolerate rape? Should God tolerate people sacrificing babies to Molech? Should God tolerate the greedy stealing from the poor? God did not sanction all the violence and war that was exercised in the Old Testament, however, he did oversee and lead some war.
3. God has an understanding of justice that no person or group of people possess. He also has the ability to always do right which not even Christians can achieve.

Discontinuity

Christians cannot read the Old Testament without through the lens of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the fulfilment of all the Scriptures – “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44).
4. The Old Testament has a geo-political centre that is removed by Jesus in the New Testament. Whereas God’s people in the Old Testament were a nation, God’s people are now from and in every nation. God’s Kingdom is of a different nature, As Jesus said to Pilate, ‘My kingdom is not of this world’.
5. God’s anger is demonstrated supremely in the cross of Jesus where Christ died to satisfy God’s righteous wrath. History has a cross dividing it, such that there is no longer any moral or theological support for Holy War this side of the cross. God’s righteousness is revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his propitious death brings peace to all who believe. This once for all death has an efficacy for disarming hate, anger and greed:
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15)
6. The Kingdom of God grows through the proclamation of the word of God, and not through political or military means. Christians believe in war, but it is a spiritual war, one that is engaged by putting on the armour of God (faith, righteousness, truth, etc) and by using the sword of the Spirit (the Bible) and undergirding it all with prayer. If the power of God for salvation is in the Gospel of Jesus, then it is erroneous to believe that Christianity will extend through war. Not only that, it suggests that coercion is an effective means to grow the Church, whereas the Bible speaks nothing of coercion but it does speak of persuasion through speaking truth and living out God’s love to all.
7. The Bible nowhere teaches that a Church can engage in war, and it gives us no room for supposing that armed conflict can aid Christian progress, however it does leave room for the possibility for the State to engage in war.
The State is not the Church. In Romans ch.13 the Apostle teaches,
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”
i. Governments are not beyond the rule of God, even though they may reject his dominion.
ii. Governments have a value in and for this world, for the good of society, which includes collecting taxes to pay for civic needs, and to judge and punish those who do wrong.
iii. At the very least verse 4 refers to law enforcers and the judicial system that exists within a nation, but it is likely that Paul also has in mind the exercise of military action. Even if Romans 13:4 is not speaking of war and only of civic responsibilities, the point is nonetheless unavoidable, Paul affirms that there is a place for Governments to use the sword in punishing wrongdoing.

Further Principles

8. There is a difference between turning the cheek and loving our neighbour. If one saw their neighbour being attacked, it would be immoral to stand by and do nothing, and it would be right to come to their aid, to defend them and fend off the attacker. While Christians ought to pursue peace, even at great personal cost, loving our neighbour may necessitate military intervention.
9. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 13:18).
10. The Bible discounts many of the reasons that have been used in history and in contemporary global and sociopolitical scenarios for waging war: for conquest, for profit, for revenge, and for religious advantage.
11. When Christians engage in war it should not be under the banner of Church or Gospel, but as as expression of submitting to the Government and loving our neighbour.
12. People should not go against the conscience, except when their conscience violates Scripture.
Can war ever be just? Ultimately the answer to that question is no, because even on a good day people are prone to sinful desires. War is never just but it may be justifiable. Occasions of crisis may arise where more action is required than simply prayer and good wishes. It is a loving act to lay down ones life for a friend, and even more so for a stranger who is being oppressed by a militaristic regime.
Should Christians fight in war? Often the answer will be no. We ought to be reluctant. But there may be circumstances where the Government decides to go to war, and should the reasons be congruent with a Christian’s understanding of the Bible, participating in that war is permissible.
War, however, is not the ultimate solution to evil in the world; only the Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful enough and pure enough and sufficient enough to do such a penetrating work in the human heart. The world lives in the epoch of peace, where God is manifesting his patience and grace, calling men and women to repentance and reconciliation. While millions of people are coming to realise and experience God’s shalom, there remains much that is wrong in the world, such that even the most laudable acts of human kindness and justice can not overcome.  Christians, though, believe that God remains holy and he promises a day when he will judge the living and the dead. Many injustices may escape our attention, but they will not allude God:
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
King of kings and lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:11-16)