I’m sure that my friends and I were thorns in the side for our private Christian school teachers and Sunday school teachers. I don’t know if it was just our particular class of cohorts, or maybe it was just a sign of the times, but we asked questions. Questions, of course, are the bane of Fundagelical Christianity. We were supposed to be good little boys and girls and just accept what we were taught. However, if you have ever worked with children, it is impossible to turn off their natural curiosity and superhuman ability to spot contradictions.
I was probably around eleven or twelve years old when our Sunday school teacher had to come up with some explanation for why we can kill people during a war. The way I remember it, we were going through the Ten Commandments, so, it would have been around November. We always hit Moses and the Ten Commandments around November and had to skip a lot of the Old Testament to get to the Christmas story by December 25.
Commandment #6: Thou shalt not kill. Please don’t point out to me that it should read, “You shall not murder.” We all know that comes from the NIV. I was raised and trained on the King James, and it plainly said, “Thou shalt not kill.” This leads to the question: “What about if you kill someone in a war?” or some variation of it. Maybe the question was “Is it OK to kill someone during a war?” I know that I’d have to wait until Jr. High before I would ask. “If we aren’t supposed to kill, why did God command the Israelites to kill everyone when they took the Promised Land?”
I’m sure whoever the Sunday school teacher was, she was probably either frustrated or at a complete loss for a decent theological answer that would satisfy an eleven-year-old. She had been caught in a blatant adult contradiction, and her Sunday school lesson book didn’t have an answer.
Kudos to my teacher, who declared to us, “In war God says it’s alright to kill your enemies.” She never cited chapter and verse, but it was an idea I would believe for years. Whoever that volunteer Sunday school teacher was, she taught me that war is justification for killing.
This all came back to me as I was pondering recent comments in the news. Robert Jeffress, the pastor of a mega-church in Texas, declared that our country would experience a civil war if trump was impeached. Sandy Rios jumped on the bandwagon in support. I was trying to figure out how two Christian religious leaders could stray so far from the message of Jesus. How can they not follow His teaching to “Love your enemies”? (Matthew 5:44) I wondered if they had skipped over the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”(Matthew 5:9) It seemed to me they were completely disregarding the central teachings of Jesus. It shook me to the core. I just can’t understand how millions of Christians could be led so far astray from the teachings of Jesus.
Then it struck me, Fundagelicals had been proclaiming a “Culture War” since the 1970s. I’ve heard hundreds of sermons declaring Christians at war. Heck, I sang “Onward Christian Soldiers marching as to war. . . .” In the Fundagelical mindset, you don’t have to follow Jesus if you are at war. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but he doesn’t understand war. In war you are allowed to NOT love your enemy. In war you can dehumanize your enemy. In war you can attack rather than serve. You don’t have to be like Jesus when you are at war.
Jerry Falwell Jr’s remarks about two separate kingdoms began to make sense. In a Washington Post interview, Falwell told reporter Joe Heim, “There’s the earthly kingdom and the heavenly kingdom, in the heavenly kingdom the responsibility is to treat others as you’d like to be treated. In the earthly kingdom, the responsibility is to choose leaders who will do what’s best for your country.” Falwell has decided that the Kingdom of God isn’t at hand as John the Baptist and Jesus preached; he believes the Kingdom of God is separate from our daily lives. For Falwell, there is an earthly kingdom where Christians are at war, and we can ignore everything Jesus taught. All that highfalutin heavenly Kingdom stuff just doesn’t work in the earthly kingdom. Forget about trying to transform the earthly kingdom into the heavenly kingdom, just because Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on EARTH as it is in Heaven.” doesn’t mean we need to take it seriously.
Jim Bakker, a convicted felon turned doomsday prepper huckster, declared that all Democrats are Demon possessed. Robert Jeffress, not wanting to miss out on bashing political rivals, said that Democrats worship the god Moloch.
Lying about fellow Christians, lying about political rivals, demonizing, and propagandizing others isn’t permissible if you follow Jesus. However, if you take a leave of absence from the Kingdom of God to fight a culture war in the earthly kingdom, then you can lie all you want. You can advocate for the death of Liberals; you can be an anti-Christ.
Sorry folks, I went AWOL from the Culture war years ago. I’m a citizen of the Kingdom of God. I don’t have two kingdoms to choose from. I’ve been called to transform myself and this world. I’m not to be like the world; I’m not to use worldly methods to change the world. I have to do it like Jesus. I have to be a peacemaker.
Whether you read the sixth commandment as killing or murder, Jesus doesn’t support either. Wars are not justifications; they are tragedies brought about by untransformed humans using worldly tactics to gain worldly things.
Join me in going AWOL from the Culture war and just learn to love. In our current political situation, our country has been so divided; each side believes they know the truth. Each side believes they are right. Christianity has been co-opted to push a political agenda. The only cure is to return to focusing on transforming ourselves to be more like Jesus.
Thanks for reading! Please take a moment and share this post. Don’t forget to like the post and subscribe if you haven’t already. You can watch my vlog at Rev’s Reels on YouTube. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Join me and a bunch of other former Fundagelicals at Open Door Ministries in Westminster at the Westminster Mall.