The Beginnings of Christian Reform (23)

Christianity and National Defence (Part 2)

III. Keep Within the Rules:

The third point of a Biblical covenant, is that God provides a set of rules or laws man must follow in exercising his dominion over the earth. God will judge man by how he follows these rules.

The Ten Commandments provide nations and peoples with a moral and legal framework for the provision of all things, including national defence. The scripture gives us a motivational summary, describing those who have initiated unjustified warfare over the centuries:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war against your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask (James 4:1-2).

This leads us to U.S. General Smedley Butler’s (1881-1940) conclusion:

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

Furthermore, the Psalmist seeks God’s rescue from “evil men…violent men [and those who] continually stir up wars”(Ps.140:1-2).

The horse was an offensive weapon. Horses were the basis of both the cavalry and chariots. There were to be few horses in the king’s stable: “But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way” (Deut.17: 16). The horse was a tool of empire. Kings could not lawfully multiply them…Egypt had been an empire based on chariots. There were limits on what chariots could accomplish. Chariots had failed to keep Israel inside Egypt’s boundaries. No Israelite king was to send Israelites down to Egypt to buy horses or to learn the arts of horse-based warfare. Horses were forbidden to Israel’s kings because empire was forbidden.

 Israel would be defended by God, just as she had been at the Red Sea. Israelites were not to put their trust in horses… An Israelite army without horses was at the mercy of God, not the mercy of Egypt. To preserve the inheritance of Israel, the king had to conform to God’s laws, for he was the nation’s supreme civil representative. A stable full of horses would serve as a symbol of the king’s trust in military might rather than God’s preserving hand. An arms race in offensive weaponry in Israel would testify to a national loss of faith.[1]

The fact that civil government under God’s law was not permitted to tax beyond 9% (see I Sam.8), precluded a standing military force in Israel, as it does today in any God-fearing nation. Conscription also was not permitted, or wars of national aggression. Civil governments are not to assist others in armed conflicts; nor are they supposed to meddle in the affairs of other nations. If other nations suffer some form of national calamity, individuals or organisations in a free society may provide their own voluntary assistance, but governments are not authorised to do so.

This does not sit well with governments today, which have become used to confiscating vast wealth from their communities for various purposes. From this we understand that “the king is not saved by a might army, a warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength” (Ps.33:16-17).

The greatest and most righteous king in Israel’s entire history, Josiah, was killed when he mounted a preemptive war against Neco II, Pharaoh of Egypt. In terms of domestic policy, Josiah did everything required in God’s Law, putting in place the most amazing religious reformation Israel ever experienced. His undoing came when he indulged the presumption that military aggression against Egypt for the purpose of aiding Carchemish was a legitimate action. The tragic tale unwinds at 2 Chron. 35:20-25, where we learn that all the good Josiah had accomplished within Israel (II Chron.34:1-35:19) was undone by his initiation of this Biblically unjustifiable war.[2]

Josiah’s disaster could have served as an instructive example for many, but it has not.

The extent of the U.S. global empire is almost incalculable. The Department of Defence’s “Base Structure Report” states that the Department’s physical assets consist of “more than 600,000 individual buildings and structures, at more than 6,000 locations, on more than 30 million acres.” There are over 700 U.S. military bases on foreign soil. There are U.S. troops stationed in 159 different regions of the world in every corner of the globe. There are 285,000 U.S. troops stationed in foreign countries, not counting the 200,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are 100,000 U.S. soldiers in Europe to face a non-existent Soviet Union. The United States has commitments to provide security to over 35 countries. The United States still maintains 64,000 troops in Germany, 33,000 troops in Japan, and 10,000 troops in Italy – sixty years after we defeated them in World War II. We have, in fact, never stopped mobilizing for war since World War II, manufacturing enemies where we could find none. [3]

IV. Judgments:

The fourth part of a Biblical covenant, is a list if judgments that will be imposed by God, who blesses man for obedience and curses man for disobedience.

Foreign military bases are for offensive military actions, not defensive ones. And likewise for the stationing abroad of thousands of military troops. There is no better example, of course, of the true mission of the Department of Defence than the current war in Iraq – an unconstitutional, unnecessary, immoral, senseless, and unjust war if there ever were one. It is unconstitutional because only Congress has the authority to declare war. It is unnecessary because Iraq was no threat to the United States. It is immoral because it was based on lies. It is unjust because it is not defensive. It is senseless because 3,400 U.S. soldiers have died in vain. The war in Iraq is also terribly expensive, costing the American taxpayers over $200 million a day. The final cost of the war is projected to be as high as $2 trillion. That is a far cry from the $50 billion that then Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said the war would cost. [4]

I Samuel 13:19-22 shows that the Philistines endeavoured to gain a military advantage over the children of Israel by controlling and restricting their access to blacksmiths. “Otherwise,”(they said), “the Hebrews will make swords or spears.”Israel had to go to the Philistines and pay to get any metalwork done, so when “the day of battle came”(v.22), only Saul and Jonathan were armed.

Removal of a communities’ ability to bear arms (or only permit those “licenced” to have arms), has been a tool used by tyrannical governments to wage war on a defenceless people. This was one of the concerns of the framers of the U. S. Constitution, who knew first-hand the dangers that an unprepared populace faced from a ruthless government.

The Christian patriot, Patrick Henry, warned that “the great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun.”  The third President and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, said, “No free man shall ever be de-barred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

In“Tragedy and Hope”(1966), Carroll Quigley argued that the American War of Independence was successful because the Americans possessed weapons that were comparable to those possessed by the British troops, and that this was why there were a series of revolts against despotic governments in the seventeenth century.[5] Admiral Yamamoto rightly warned his superiors in the 1930’s “you cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”

Man was created to“rule and have dominion” (Gen.1:26-28), but when men reject Jesus Christ and His word, their desire to rule becomes perverse and depraved. As a consequence, more civilians died at the hands of their own government, and in conflicts in the twentieth century, then in all of human history. It was a grim and awful century, especially if you were an unarmed civilian who made the fatal mistake of trusting your government. The century began with the U.S./Filippino conflict (which commenced in 1898), and civilian losses of the Filippinos have been estimated at between 250,000 and 1 million.[6]

During the First World War, Turkey (a Moslem nation) had a substantial minority of Armenians, who were largely Christian. They were also generally unarmed. Under the guise of “troop movements” and “deportations,” the Turkish government decided to deal with what they considered to be the Armenian problem.

Arnold Toynbee was a highly respected British historian of the 1950’s. His book “The Treatment of the Armenians,” is enlightening.[7] Between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians are estimated to have perished in the first religious and racial genocide of the twentieth century.

The fact that it was not well publicised did not go unnoticed abroad.[8] Lenin, who wrote that “a system of licensing and registration is the perfect device to deny gun ownership to the bourgeoisie,” disarmed the Russians, which paved the way for Stalin to commit genocide against the Kulaks in the 1930s with over 6 million casualties, not to speak of the millions of others who got in his way.

The Nazis inherited lists of firearm owners and their firearms when they “lawfully” took over in Germany in March 1933, under legislation framed to limit the private use of firearms in 1928. They used these inherited registration lists to seize privately held firearms. Thus Hitler was able to deny gun ownership to anybody (such as Jews) through licensing. Knowing exactly who owned which firearms, the Nazis had only to revoke the annual ownership permits or decline to renew them.[9]

In 1938 the Nazis enhanced the 1928 law. The Nazi Weapons Law introduced hand-gun control. Firearms ownership was restricted to Nazi party members and other “reliable”people who would support the regime. (It is significant that sections of the 1938 law were copied and used in the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968.)

In China, Mao made even Hitler look pretty ordinary.

When Mao’s troops took a village they would kidnap rich people. They would then offer to return the victims in exchange for money. The victims would be released upon payment. Then they would be kidnapped again. This time, the demand was for guns. Then they would be released again. This made the deal look reasonable to the families of the next victims. But once they had the community’s guns, the mass arrests and executions began.[10]

How many died as a result of persecutions and the communist policies of Mao? …It could be as low as 40 million. It could be as high as 100 million – or more. In the Great Leap Forward from 1959 to 1961 alone, figures range between 20 million to 75 million. In the period before, 20 million. In the period after, tens of millions more.[11]

Pol Pot in Cambodia believed in emulating the regime of Mao (who himself had wanted to out-do Stalin in his ruthlessness). About 1.5 million Cambodians died under his regime. The usual scenario was followed: remove the guns from the community by confiscation, then do what you wish in the community. Pol Pot was another example of the sobering fact, that

there has been no greater threat to life, liberty, and property throughout the ages than government. Even the most violent and brutal private individuals have been able to inflict only a mere fraction of the harm and destruction that have been caused by the use of power by political authorities.[12]

By 1994 in Rwanda, the considerable ill-feeling between the Hutus and their neighbouring tribe, the Tutsis, was festering, and the country was politically unstable. The Hutus had machine-guns; the Tutsis did not.

When systematic violence was unleashed against the Tutsis, neither the U. N. (which was on the spot with Peacekeepers), the French (which had supplied the Hutus, and had commercial interests in the country), or the U.S., all of them knowing what was taking place, were willing to forcibly intervene to protect the Tutsis. The consequences? Three months of planned and organised violence, with 800,000-1 million civilian deaths.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who headed the organization’s “peacekeeping” division before being appointed to the top post, was censured in the so-called Carlsson Report on the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which claimed as many as a million lives.

Annan had received detailed advance intelligence about the impending massacres of the Tutsis from both the on-scene UN commander, Canadian Colonel Romeo Dallaire, and various informants within the Hutu-led government. He nonetheless continued with the program to disarm the Rwandan civilians and ordered Dallaire to burn his own sources by sharing his intelligence with the same regime that was planning the slaughter.[13]

Annan later received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Did the West learn anything from the twentieth century’s violence? I doubt it.

In 1997 [in Great Britain] pistols were used in 2648 crimes, and in 2007… they were involved in 4175 crimes. Thus the ban on pistols [in the meantime] in the hands of law abiding citizens has resulted in a [57%] increase of their use by criminals… Criminals are, by definition, those who do not obey the law. The absence of legally-held pistols has not stopped them from having whatever class of gun they prefer, including significant numbers of sub-machine guns. The Dunblane shootings, [in Scotland, on March 13, 1996] which prompted the handgun ban, occurred in the run-up to a general election and that was the single most important factor. The politicians concerned did not care then and do not care now that the whole thing was a pathetic farce.[14]

The fact is, that “genocide happens. It doesn’t happen whenever the would-be targets own guns.”[15]

George Orwell was right. The famous author of Animal Farm and 1984, who knew something about political oppression and opportunism, also wrote Why Citizens Need to Be Armed. He said “that rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

V. The Inheritance:                                                                                                                          The fifth point of a Biblical covenant is a program of inheritance: a lawful transition that mortal men need in order to extend their dominion over creation.

No wise and God-fearing nation would knowingly desire to stand in opposition to the Messiah’s omnipotent work by engaging in international conflicts and wars. Any nation that recognizes its true King, and obeys its true King, will liberate itself from the enslaving doctrines of international power politics and international wars. One day, “the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever”(Rev. 11:15). Godliness and national obedience are by far the strongest defence for any country.[16]

Wars between nations indicate that at least one party is ungodly. Wars will not last forever. The Old Testament experience shows that Israel when it obeyed God, was under God’s protection even when attacked. This had been the promise of God, for He had said

the Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you…so all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the Name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you…the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, to observe them carefully (Deut.28:7,10,13-14).

Conclusion:

The Bible’s promise, is “blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps.33:12). Lev. 26:6 informs us that when a nation keeps God’s law, “the sword shall not go through your land.”

Individuals have an obligation to assume the responsibility of defending themselves. This cannot be left solely in the hands of government agencies, which can themselves be a means of tyranny or abuse. In a time of invasion or national emergency, individuals must be able to work alongside others to protect their nation by force.  The notion of an armed, protective militia is Biblically legitimate, and socially of great significance.

If nations will walk in the light of the gospel, the promises of Isaiah 2:1-4 will eventuate, and the nations will indeed, “hammer their swords into plowshares.”


[1] Gary North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, ch.40.

[2] Selbrede, ibid.

[3] Lawrence Vance, “War, Gunboat Diplomacy and the Church,” p.1, Lew Rockwell website, 24/7/2007.

[4] ibid, p.2.

[5] Gary North, “Gun Control and Genocide,”p. 7, Lew Rockwell website, 27/4/2005.

[6] ibid, p.1.

[7] Toynbee’s summary, Part VI, “The Deportation of 1915: Procedure,” gives us some detail: “The disarming of the civil population was left to the local authorities, and in every administrative centre a reign of terror began. The authorities demanded the production of a definite number of arms. Those who could not produce them were tortured, often in fiendish ways; those who procured them for surrender, by purchase from their Moslem neighbours or by other means, were imprisoned for conspiracy against the government…it became evident that the inquisition for arms was being used as a cloak to deprive the community of its natural heads.”

[8] North, ibid.,p.7.

[9] North, p.7.

[10] ibid., p.7

[11] Lew Rockwell, “China: From Death Camp to Civilisation,” his website, 21/7/2007.

[12] R. Ebeling, (lewrockwell.com, 1/2/2009.

[13] Will Grigg, “Support Your Global Police?” (www.lewrockwell.com, 14th October, 2009.

[14] “Australian Shooter” magazine, June 2008, p.34-5.

[15] Gary North, “Gun Control and Genocide,” p.8, (www.lewrockwell.com, 27/4/2005.

[16] Martin Selbrede, “National Defence and the Bible,” Chalcedon Foundation website, 2009.

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