Christians, War & CBMW

For the past two days, the Gender Blog has been writing about their problems with the fact that Susan in the new Prince Caspian movie is depicted as a warrior, something completely foreign to the book.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, though I hope to. I can’t convince my wife to see it with me (for other reasons). But I, in part, understand the Gender Blog’s concern, but for different reasons. Simply put if a book is going to be made into a movie, then it should either try to follow the book as much as possible or as little as possible – and generally the second option results in a worthless movie. So I don’t like this change simply because its wrong compared to the book.

But the Gender Blog has taken this opportunity to argue that women should not be in combat. That’ not the issue I want to discussion here, well not exactly. Though I would point out that the Gender Blog’s argument is thoroughly dubious. Aside from some quite acceptable OT references, they’re “Biblical argument” really only consists of quotes from R. Albert Mohler Jr. and John Piper – who as much as Baptist Calvinists would like to think aren’t Scripture. They also include a rather terrible insertion of Ephesians 5.25, 28 as if these passages have anything whatsoever to do with war or fighting…(they’re really about love, read the context). Stringing references together is not the best way to make an argument.

My frustration is the fact that they assume that it okay for men to be in combat. Now don’t get me wrong, I am thoroughly aware depressed by the fact that war is in some ways a necessary (very) evil in this fallen world. And that’s a fact that I mourn.

But why is it okay for Christian men or women to fight? What basis is there for that? Give me a New Testament reference that says we should fight. It doesn’t exist. Perhaps instead of “raising our sons to protect, and our daughters to affirm this protection, all for the glory of God,” we should be raising our sons and daughters to love and to save lives, both spiritually and physically. Why aren’t the medic and chaplain branches of the armed services filled with believers? Shouldn’t they be? In war, shouldn’t the Christians be the ones who are doing the saving? Is that not more our calling?

I think the Gender Blog has missed it on this one. For one we cannot expect that the unbelieving world is going to get it right on gender, regardless of whether you’re an egalitarian or a complementarian. But more importantly, they have not asked themselves if its okay for Christian men or women to kill, to end the life of another being made in the image of God.

24 thoughts on “Christians, War & CBMW

  1. Mike,
    I’m not going to get into a discussion about whether war is just in any situation. But I’m with you that, in a good world, neither men nor women need to be warriors.

    I’d rather talk about C.S. Lewis and his books. At the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, he calls

    “Peter became a tall and deep-chested man and a great warrior.” The implication is these two qualities that Peter grew into were not necessarily the same thing.

    “Susan grew into a tall and gracious woman with black hair that fell around her feet and the kings of the countries beyond the sea began to send her ambassdors asking fo her hand in marriage.”

    (Funny that CBMW hasn’t protested that that Susan doesn’t look like Anna Popplewell who’s hair hardly goes much below her shoulders).

    So Lewis says at the end of this first book, it is: “King Peter the Magnificent” and “Queen Susan the Gentle” and “King Edmund the Just” and “Queen Lucy the Valiant.”

    “Valiant?” Really?!!

    But if Lewis’s characters grow, why can’t Lewis, as filmmakers Andrew Adamson and Douglas Gresham say he does? Adamson says Lewis “evolved in his views over the years,” and Gresham, Lewis’s stepson, says “I think C. S. Lewis evolved after meeting my mother, and that’s why you start to see stronger female characters in his later books.”

    But Christopher W. Cowan writing for CBMW wants to dispute that for some anti-egalitarian agenda. His sources are a World magazine article and Cowan’s pooh-poohing of a National Review interview with Douglas Gresham in which he repeats the assertion above. Cowan even makes the contradictory observation that Lucy, in the book not the film where she’s the warrior, she really is the “model of steadfast faith in the face of adversity” and is the one “to win back Narnia” and is indeed a “strong female character.”

    What Cowan overlooks is in-depth research into the whole question of evolution or growth of Lewis with respect to his stunted view of women.

    In their book, Women among the Inklings, researchers Candice Fredrick and Sam McBride say Lewis “did not practice the model for Christian marriage he espoused” (p.83) and that he “presumes, even after his tentative embrace of the ‘feminine’ quality of emotion, that being called ‘masculine’ is a compliment to either gender, whereas being called ‘feminine’ is uncomplimentary to men” (p.85). Was this Christian slowly being converted — by mere Christianity — into what Fredrick and McBride call “mere feminism”?

  2. Polite questions for your consideration: How about Christians being police officers who may need to kill? Or bodyguards? Does God no longer raise anyone to be a warrior of any type any longer?

  3. Yes, Jeff, that’s the difficult question. Isn’t it. Like Kurk, I had hoped to avoid the question of Just War Theory and related issues like this one.

    On police: I think one can be both a Christian and a policeman. But it comes to the policeman (or, yes, woman) drawing their gun, I can’t make that call.

    On body guards: That’s a different animal. What is the body guard’s role? To project the one he’s guarding. Now when it comes to it, does that mean doing so by sacrificing himself as the one who already knows where he’s going or by killing the person who doesn’t know?

  4. Near as I can tell this website is an illegal copy of text, but in it you can read Martin Luther’s pamphlet “Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved”. I would say the two biggest Loci classici would be Rom. 13:1-4 where Paul writes that even the temporal authority (Christian or not) wields the sword given to it by God and Luk 3:14 where John the Baptizer doesn’t tell new Christians to quit being soldiers because it’s ungodly, but rather tells them to fill their vocations honestly.

    Going back to the Ten Commandments, even in the OT, there’s a difference between killing someone and murdering someone.

  5. Mike, I’ll assume the last question is rhetorical and won’t muddle up the discussion.

    To try to get on topic, ss far as your main point in the second to last paragraph, I wonder what Jesus was meaning when he said:

    “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” Luke 22:36


  6. Mike: My brother in law is ROTC. He is definitely saved. I don’t question people’s faith or salvation on the basis of my own opinions. I’m only a human and I always reserve the right to be wrong.

  7. Jeff:

    Well, for one, I’d say that verse is complicated by 47-51 of the same chapter.

    I think Jesus’ words in 36 were more to make a point than to be taken literally – the point being that we as Christians will be hated. We won’t be simply welcomed open armed wherever we go as the 12 were on their previous ministry trip. That has little to do with war.

    Let me say that I respect those Christians men and women who believe God has called them to the military. I would not be able to do that, not with a clear conscience. I don’t know, maybe that makes me the weaker brother. I don’t expect everyone to hold to my view. I just am not sure exactly what a “just war” is, unless its God’s war and I haven’t seen many of those lately, at least not in my lifetime.

    Again, this is nothing more than my personal decision and belief. I don’t count this as a rule of fellowship or a cardinal doctrine.

  8. I’m with you Mike, and you are of course entitled to your opinion on your own blog! And to clarify, I’m with you on the whole war thing, I’ve not read Prince Caspian nor do I wish to.

  9. Mike I see what you’re saying about 47-51 but I’m not sure that relates to :36 even though I know everything should be in context.

    What I’m (truly) wondering is if the sword part of :26 is a metaphor, and if it’s literal, what would they use it for?

    If it’s for protection, then I would make a point that killing can be for protection. Not for ourselves but others.

    For example, if there are military people dispatched to NY city because of known terrorists and they find someone with a machine gun in Times Square who starts shooting and is looking to take out as many people as possible, it would be for the protection of many to kill that person. I don’t think being a Christian would preclude someone from performing this type of service. Although I know when enlisting one doesn’t always have a choice as to exactly what their job would entail.

    I was also thinking regarding the salvation issue (killing someone who doesn’t know where he’s going), God won’t rip anybody off by saying, “Well you would have become a Christian if that Christian wouldn’t have killed you first.” He will save the elect and give them ample opportunity. Otherwise the evil doers will be judged by their works. I don’t believe that more time means they have a great chance of salvation.

    My point of all of this is protection as opposed to aggression and I think Christians can be called to this duty even if it means killing.

    Sorry for rambling a little. I’m not with you on this but respect your opinion and it’s a great discussion. I hope I don’t sound too curmudgeony.

  10. I share your frustration over the assumption made about Christians and the military. I think they need to argue better that it is appropriate for Christians to be in the military instead of just assuming that.

    But one of the things that I wonder when people just assume that it is good for Christians to be in the military is whether they approach that position from a particularly American viewpoint that sees America as the bringer of justice and peace to the world. Would they think it is ok or even good for a Christian to be in the military in Saddam ruled Iraq or Taliban ruled Afghanistan? What about present day North Korea or Iran? What about Nazi Germany or Communists Russia? If not why? I suspect a particular view of America as anointed and blessed by God may perhaps be a primary reason. A particular view of America (or British or Australian, etc.) and it’s military may influence more than anything else a person’s view on Christians and the military.

    Just a thought.


  11. Jeff, if <a href=””Doug Groothuis has taught me anything, its that its okay be be curmudgeony at times, as long as its constructive. And I’ve enjoyed this conversation enough that I would say you have been constructive. That verse in Luke is one I had not thought about in relation to this issue and I’ll have to now take the time to think it through now.

    On the salvation issue though: I understand what you’re saying, but I wouldn’t word it that way. Its seems somewhat similar to a Calvinist saying that missions don’t matter because God’s going to save the elect anyway.

    But I think we agree on this issue more than you do. When you write, “My point of all of this is protection as opposed to aggression and I think Christians can be called to this duty even if it means killing.”

    I can accept that for the policeman example. Its just that making that decision. I simply cannot imagine it.

    As for Luke, I wouldn’t interpret it literally. I just read through Bock’s discussion in his BECNT volume II and I find myself in agreement with him.:

    “The point is that the world has made its decision about Jesus, so those who follow him had better be prepared to be treated similarly. Disciples are to engage the world, but they will have to take care of themselves. Neyrey (1985: 40–43) rightly sees two events as commentary on this verse: Jesus’ rebuke of the use of a sword against the high priest’s servant (22:49–51) and the church’s nonviolent response to persecution in the Book of Acts (4:25–31; 8:1–3; 9:1–2; 12:1–5). In fact, Acts 4:25–31 shows the church armed only with prayer and faith in God. Luke 22:36 sees the sword as only a symbol of preparation for pressure, since Jesus’ rebuke of a literal interpretation (22:38) shows that a symbol is meant (Fitzmyer 1985: 1432; Marshall 1978: 825).

    Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 2: 9:51-24:53 (BECNT; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1996), 1747.

  12. Bryan L: That’s a good point.

    Nathan: Do you mean you haven’t seen the movie? I have read the book, I just haven’t seen the movie just released.

  13. Sorry, I’ll try that again. I haven’t read the book and don’t plan on seeing the movie either. I’ve never really cared for The Chronicles of Narnia to be honest. Probably because I read Tolkien first…

    Anyways, I was also agreeing with your comments about Christians and war/violence. I think the only thing I disagreed with you about was the whole gender issue. I’m probably going to check out of that whole conversation for a while though. It’s just too much [brain] effort over a topic that really doesn’t affect me that much.

  14. Nathan, that’s fine. I got you. I just wasn’t sure if you meant the movie or not.

    And yes, I know you disagree about the gender thing. And I’m always fine with “agreeing to disagree.”

  15. Bryan L that’s a good point. I think in general that we’re a little too proud here in the U.S. and see God as especially blessing us. It hasn’t been borne out spiritually.

    I would guess the war thing and the U.S. is really tricky because some think our use of the military going to war is aggression and some may think of it as justice, or helping oppressed, or wanting oil or whatever. And it’s probably a combination.

    Mike, thank you for the curmudgeon link and the quote from the commentary. Both very interesting and new to me.

    Even with my views on this I couldn’t begin handle being a police officer or someone with a weapon in the military. But I’m not a “cessationist” when it comes to God giving some men the ability to be a real warrior (like a vocation) of some sort. The problem with the military is there are a whole bunch of people who haven’t been given those gifts and are doing something they can’t handle.

  16. Here’s a question (not related to the content of your post or anyone’s comments):

    Why has my post that linked to your post here not shown up in a pingback?

    When you link to my posts I see a pingback. Why would it not do similarly for you?

    Must be a Blogger problem.

  17. James, I don’t know.

    This is just a guess, but perhaps by adding /trackback/ to the url in your post, it will work. When I hover over the “You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.” on my side bar, that’s what I see in the info field at the bottom of the page.

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