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Is God On Our Side?
by George Shadroui
04 March 2004

God is on the side of truth, mercy, love. That is not a call to passivism, but it is a call to humility.

It was interesting a few days ago to watch John Kerry respond to a reporter’s question about whether God was on our side in the war on terrorism.

Kerry could have answered the question simply, but then if John Kerry could answer a question simply he would not be John Kerry. He might have said: God is on the side of the innocent, not on the side of those who murder or kill indiscriminately. We know this because we can read the collective teachings of Christianity and virtually every other major faith. Consequently, it is fair to say that God would condemn terrorism without pause.

On the other hand, I also appreciate why Kerry felt the need to qualify his answer somewhat. Would God have blessed the invasion of Iraq? Was God on the side of the United States when it bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki or on the side of the allies that firebombed Dresden? These acts condemned thousands of innocent people to death. They also liberated millions more. But does God keep score that way?

Would the Jesus who preached "love thy enemies" have been pleased by American soldiers who kept the skulls of Japanese soldiers as souvenirs even as they stemmed the tide of fascism and militarism unleashed by imperial Japan?

I don’t know the answers to these questions with any certainty, but I do know that a wise person would be careful about claiming God’s endorsement for acts of war, however justified by human measure.

If you read the Gospels carefully, you will not find Jesus condemning Roman soldiers for doing their duty. Nor did he hesitate to drive the moneychangers out of the Temple, though describing that as an act of violence might be overstating the case. He was not passive, but he also was not embracing violence as a solution to human problems.

Jesus was a spiritual presence who did not aspire to provide answers to most of our secular, earth-bound problems. I think a case could be made that he would support a just war. I think the case also can be made that he would not. It is precisely in the uncertainty that our humanity lives, for in not accepting God’s full embrace of our violence, we temper that violence, and seek to circle back, even in times of war, to the notion that we are all children of God.

In short, if we must fight a war, and terrorists seem determined that this war continue, we should pray for God’s guidance and mercy. That is probably the best we can do. Read Paul Fussell on the nature of war and you might well hesitate to invoke almighty God on behalf of the slaughter of our enemies. Wise leaders understand such nuances.

At the risk of sounding theological in this political season, I would venture this: Yes, God is on our side. He is on all sides, standing side by side with each person condemned, sooner or later, to misery and death. God lives in the pilot and in the soldier, and also in the child that those soldiers inadvertently kill. God is even in the terrorist and criminals whose rejection of God is the greatest of human tragedies. If you believe in the teachings of Christ, this is indisputably clear.

God is in every man. Every woman. Every child. It is the failure to accept this simple truth that made the Nazis and the communists the architects of such efficient killing machines.

Of course God is on our side in the war against terror. He is also on the side of those who are victims of our violence. This is one of those paradoxes that defies simple answer or easy sound bite. But then the life of Jesus was a paradox, and his parables were not cut for television talk shows. As the recent film by Mel Gibson sought to demonstrate, Christ gave his life under the weight of all our sins.

God is on the side of truth, mercy, love. That is not a call to passivism, but it is a call to humility. There are plenty of good reasons to not support Senator Kerry’s presidential aspirations, but his refusal to embrace an easy answer to this question is not one of them.

George Shadroui has been published in more than two dozen newspapers and magazines, including National Review and Frontpagemag.com

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