Conservative Colloquium

An Intellectual Forum for All Things Conservative

Posts Tagged ‘war’

Understanding Why God Commanded Killing of Midianite Women & Children

Posted by Tony Listi on December 4, 2012

They warred against Midian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and slew every male…. Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live? Behold, these [women] caused the people of Israel, by the counsel of Balaam, to act treacherously against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the
LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have
not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers 31:7, 15-18, RSV)

If God exists and is the source, author, and creator of human life, then the relationship between God and man is not on the same moral level as relationships among human beings. God is then well within His rights to take away human life, put those lives under a bond of marriage or servitude, and command others to do these things on His behalf. God can no more “murder” a human being than a human being can “murder” a clay pot. If one takes the premise of God’s existence seriously, then these accusations against God are really absurd. If one doesn’t take it seriously, then that’s a whole other discussion.

The case of the Midianites in Numbers 31 is a special historical case of God exercising such rights, not a promulgation of general law and morality for relationships among human beings. God gave the Israelites a special command with regard to the Midianites and gave the Israelites the 5th commandment “Thou shalt not murder” as a precept of general morality for human beings.

Why did God give this special command to the Israelites against the Midianites (and other similar peoples)? God judged the Midianites for their idolatry, sexual immorality, opposition to Israel, and dire threat to Israel’s culture and messianic mission (read chapters 22 and 25 of Numbers). He gave the Midianites the death penalty and commanded the Israelites to execute that penalty (“Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian, to execute the LORD’s vengeance on Midian.” Num 31:3). If we can assume these things in the mind of God, we can understand better how God was right to do and command what He did.

God gives no such special commands in our day and time.

***

And as for the captive Midianite virgins, God apparently permitted the Israelites to take them as wives or servants, but both wives and servants had particular rights under Mosaic law, including prohibitions against mistreatment  (Ex 21:26-27, Dt 23:15-16, Dt 21:10-14). Numbers 31 does not describe God establishing any moral precepts regarding marriage, sex, or servitude. Strictly speaking though, as one can read, Numbers does not say that the Midianite virgins were forced into marriage. Most of them were almost certainly too young for marriage anyway (pre-pubescent).

It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between command and permission. Just because God permitted or allowed certain things under Moses (e.g. divorce, polygamy, servitude, arranged marriages) does not mean that He commanded or approved of those things in themselves or intended for those permissions or allowances to last forever, for all times and people. (“[Jesus] said to them, ‘For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you….'” Mt 19:8-9)

The Israelites were a rough, barbaric, and stiff-necked people (as were all other ancient peoples of that time). They were little children in civilizational terms and could not handle the fullness of moral truth at that time with regard to human dignity and sexuality. God gave laws and allowances that met the Israelites where they were civilizationally as a people at that time. With the coming of Jesus, God fulfills the law and commands the fullness of truth, as well as giving us the grace to obey and live it out and to receive mercy when we disobey it. (Of course, considering how few are the people who actually accept and cooperate with this grace to live out this fullness, we cannot necessarily say that modern people today are more civilized. Modern barbarism cloaks itself in “civility” and “compassion.”)

God was right to make these allowances for Israel for a time, just as a parent is right to make certain allowances for children until it’s time for them to grow up. “[W]hen the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor 13:10-11).

Advertisements

Posted in Christian Apologetics, Moral Philosophy, Religion and Theology, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments »

Culture War as Stigma War

Posted by Tony Listi on August 1, 2010

Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.
Alexis de Tocqueville

A friend of mine drew my attention to a very important article written by Jeff Schafer at the Alliance Defense Fund. It’s entitled “Stigma and Dogma, Revisited.”

This article re-echoes something that De Tocqueville (quoted above) observed early on about the dangerous tendencies of democratic culture. Stigma and social pressure rule the day in a democracy.

Yet stigma and social pressure were what kept the U.S. conservative and free for so long, esp. with regard to our current social issues. In the early history of America, abortion and deviations from traditional marriage were so powerfully and thoroughly stigmatized that they were not political issues at all. Not so anymore.

Stigma is the expression of moral outrage. The article reminds me of one of the Leadership Institute’s Laws of the Public Policy Process: “Moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics.”

If conservatives are to take the long-term view of changing the culture in order to win (as the left did over a century ago), we have to be willing to publicly engage in the Stigma War. Big govt., govt. coercion, govt. dependency, promiscuity, sexual perversity, infanticide, etc. must all become shameful, stigmatized things again. Conservatives have to be willing to publicly denounce these things as immoral and shameful.

Why do you think the left likes to engage in name-calling? Racist, sexist, homophobe, bigot, etc. All these epithets are intended to stigmatize conservative views, whether the labels rationally apply or not. And they’ve done a pretty good job of it.

When people evaluate candidates or policies, it is moral factors that determine their choices; it is the elements of shame and guilt that convince people to be politically active and to hold certain political views with intensity.

We need not lose hope completely that the world is doomed to irrationality though. Feelings of guilt, shame, and moral outrage do not spring up spontaneously or irrationally; they are rooted in certain rational, though often false, paradigms and faith systems. The problem with the left is not that they aren’t rational; they are, assuming their faith-based assumptions to be true. It’s the fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality, human nature, and justice that separate us from them. (And these false assumption are inculcated into Americans through the cultural institutions of primary schools, academia, arts & entertainment, churches, and the media.)

We need to bring the reasons for our political faith and assumptions to the surface in the most clear, concise, direct, impactful, and thought-provoking ways possible. And this is where the necessity of activism comes in. And good activism is based on good organizational preparation beforehand that gathers the people and resources to make activism effective.

Moreover, activism should be directed not merely at challenging current leftist stigmas and dogmas but toward recapturing the cultural institutions mentioned above that inculcate these false stigmas and dogmas into American youth (and older).

Posted in Abortion, American Culture, American History, Culture War, Democracy, Education, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Marriage, Moral Philosophy, Political Activism, Political Philosophy, Political Psychoanalysis, Race, Racism, and Affirmative Action, Student Activism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Violent and Intolerant Qur’an Verses

Posted by Tony Listi on March 11, 2008

How many of you have actually taken the time to read the Qur’an and see what it says? You might be surprised at what you find. I wish it weren’t so, but I find it hard to believe that Islam in its purity is a peaceful and tolerant religion.

2:89-“Therefore, the curse of Allah is upon the unbelievers!”

2:97-“Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and messengers, to Gabriel and Michael, lo! Allah is an enemy of the unbelievers.”

2:191-“Kill them (unbelievers) wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you, for persecution is worse than slaughter…. Such is the reward of those who reject faith.”

2:193-“Fight against them (unbelievers) until there is no dissension, and the religion is for Allah.”
Fight until no other religion exists but Islam.

2:218-“But those who believe and those who migrate and struggle in the way of Allah, those, have hope of the mercy of Allah.”
Those who fight for Allah may have hope of forgiveness.

3:10-“Those who disbelieve, neither their riches nor their children shall save them from Allah. They shall become the fuel of the fire.”

3:19-“The only true faith in God’s sight is Islam. Those to whom the book was given disagreed among themselves only after knowledge had been given to them, being insolent among themselves. He who disbelieves the verses of Allah indeed Allah is swift in reckoning.”

3:28-“The believers should not take the unbelievers as friends or helpers in preference to the believers. He who does this does not belong to Allah in anything, unless you have a fear of them.”

3:110-“You are the best nation ever to be brought forth for people. You order honor and forbid dishonor, and you believe in Allah. Had the people of the book believed, it would have surely been better for them. Some of them are believers, but most of them are evildoers.”
Most Jews and Christians are wrongdoers.

3:151-“We will throw terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve.”

4:76-“And those who believe fight in the way of Allah, but those who disbelieve fight in cause of evil. therefore, fight against those guided by Satan.”

4:89-“”Seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and in any case take no friends or helpers from their ranks.”

4:95-“Those of the believers who sit still…are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives. Allah hath conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above te sedentary. Unto each Allah hath promised good, but He hath bestowed on those who strive a great reward above the sedentary.”
Muslims who fight in jihad are better than those who don’t.

4:101-“”For the unbelievers are to you open enemies.”

5:12-16-“Allah made a covenant with the children of Israel…. But because they broke their covenant, we cursed them and hardened their hearts. They changed the words from their places and have forgotten a portion of what they were reminded…. With those who called themselves Christians, we made a covenant, but they have forgotten much of what they were reminded. Therefore, we stirred among them enmity and hatred till the day of resurrection.”

5:51-“O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them in friendship is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.”

5:64-“They [the Jews] are cursed for what they said!… As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loveth not corrupters.”

7:4-“How many a village have we laid in ruin! In the night our might fell upon it, or at midday when they were drowsy.”

8:12, 14-“I shall cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike them above the necks, smite their finger tips…. the punishment of the fire is for the unbelievers.”

8:39-“Fight them (unbelievers) until persecution is no more and the religion of Allah reigns supreme.”

8:59-60-“Do not suppose that the unbelievers have outstripped Allah. They cannot frustrate me. Against them make ready your strength to the utmost power, including steeds of war, so that you strike terror into the enemies of allah and your enemy, and others besides them whom you do not know but Allah does.”

8:65-“O Prophet, urge the believers to fight. If there are twenty patient men among you, you shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred, they shall overcome a thousand unbelievers, for they are a nation who do not understand.”

8:74-“Those who believe and migrated from their homes and fought for the Way of Allah, and those who have sheltered them and helped them they are truly the believers.”
The jihad warriors are the true believers.

9:1, 3, 5-“For four months you shall journey freely in the land. but know that you shall not render Allah incapable, and that Allah will humiliate the unbelievers…. And give glad tidings to the unbelievers of a painful punishment…. When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Take them and confine them, then lie in ambush everywhere for them.”

9:14-“Fight them (unbelievers), Allah will punish them with your hands and degrade them. He will grant you victory over them and heal the chests of a believing nation.”

9:19-“Do you consider giving drink to the pilgrims and inhabiting the sacred mosque is the same as one who believes in Allah and the last day, and struggles in the Way of Allah? These are not held equal by Allah. Allah does not guide the harmdoers. Those who believe, and migrated, and struggle in the Way of Allah with their wealth and their persons are greater in rank with Allah.”

9:26-“Then, Allah caused his tranquility (sechina) to descend upon his messenger and the believers; he sent legions you did not see and sternly punished the unbelievers. Such is the recompense of the unbelievers.”

9:29-“Fight those who neither believe in Allah nor the last day, who do not forbid what Allah and his messenger have forbidden, and do not embrace the religion of the truth, being among those who have been given the book (Bible and the Torah), until they pay tribute out of hand and have been humiliated (or feel themselves subdued).”

9:30-“The Jews say Ezra is the son of Allah, while the Christians (who follow Paul) say the messiah is the son of Allah. such are their assertions, by which they imitate those who disbelieved before. Allah fights them! How perverted are they!”

9:33-“It is he who has sent forth his messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to uplift it above every religion, no matter how much the idolaters hate it.”
Islam does not seek equality with other religions. Islam must be above all others.

9:38-“Believers, why is it that when it is said to you: ‘march in the way of Allah, ‘ you linger with heaviness in the land? Are you content with this life rather than the everlasting life? Yet the enjoyment of this life in (comparison to) the everlasting life is little. If you do not go forth, he will punish you with a painful punishment and replace you by another nation.”
Those who refuse to wage jihad will face terrible punishment.

9:41-“Whether lightly or heavily, march on and fight for the way of Allah, with your wealth and your persons. This will be best for you, if you but knew.”

9:44-“Those who believe in Allah and the last day will not ask your permission so that they may struggle with their wealth and their selves.”
True believers do not refuse to fight and risk their lives and property for Islam.

9:49-“Hell shall encompass the unbelievers.”

9:73-“O Prophet, struggle with the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh with them. Their abode is Hell, an evil refuge indeed.”

9:111-“Allah has purchased from the believers their selves and possessions, and for them is paradise. They fight in the way of Allah, slay, and are slain.”
Muslim believers fight and so gain paradise.

9:123-“Believers, fight the unbelievers who are near you. Let them find firmness in you. Know that Allah is with those who are cautious.”

47:4-“Therefore, when you meet the unbelievers smite their necks, then, when you have killed many of them, tie the bonds…. As for those who are killed in the Way of Allah, he will not let their works to go astray.”
More commands to violence and praise for violent martyrs.

47:8-“But the unbelievers shall be the destroyed losers. He will bring their deeds to nothing.”

47:20-“The believers ask: ‘has a chapter been sent down? ‘ but when a clear chapter is sent down and fighting is mentioned in it, you see those in whose hearts is sickness looking towards you as one who swoons at death.”
The Qu’ran even says that it itself contains chapter mentioning fighting! And it mocks and chastises those not willing to die in battle.

48:28-29-“It is he who has sent his messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, so that he exalts it above all other religions. Allah is the sufficient witness. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Those who are with him are harsh against the unbelievers but merciful to one another.”

59:2-3-“It was he who expelled the unbelievers among the people of the book from their homes into the first exile. You did not think that they would go out, and they thought their fortresses would protect them from Allah. But Allah came upon them from where they did not expect, casting terror into their hearts that their homes were destroyed by their own hands as well as by the hands of the believers. Therefore, take heed you that have eyes. Had it been that Allah had not decreed that they should be dispersed, he would have surely punished them in this world. and in the everlasting life the punishment of the fire awaits them….”

60:1-3-“O you who believe, you shall not befriend My enemies and your enemies, extending love and friendship to them, when they have disbelieved in the truth that has come to you. They persecute the messenger, and you, just because you believe in Allah, your Lord. If you mobilize to struggle in My cause, seeking My blessings, how can you secretly love them? I am fully aware of everything you conceal, and everything you declare. Those among you who do this have indeed strayed off the right path…. They want you to disbelieve. Your relatives and children can never help you. On the Day of Resurrection, He will judge among you. Allah is Seer of everything you do.”
Muslims are not to take non-Muslims as friends. Leniency is not to be shown to unbelieving friends and family. The spread of Islam through “struggle” takes priority over these relationships.
61:9-“He has sent His messenger with the guidance and the true religion, and will make it dominate all religions, in spite of the idol worshipers.”

98:6-“The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the idolaters shall be for ever in the fire of gehenna (hell). They are the worst of all creatures.”

111:1-5-“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful perish the hands of abilahab, and perish he! His wealth will not suffice him, neither what he has gained; he shall roast at a flaming fire, and his wife, laden with firewood shall have a rope of palmfiber around her neck!”

Read the Qur’an for yourself at http://www.parsquran.com/eng/book/

Posted in Islam, Politics and Religion, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 83 Comments »

Christianity, Peace, and War (Part 2)

Posted by Tony Listi on November 22, 2007

Now, secondly, does God command Christians to be pacifists?

First of all, God himself is no pacifist and does not wish peace to come to all people:

“Peace, peace to the far and the near, says the LORD; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea which cannot be calmed, And its waters cast up mud and filth. No peace for the wicked! says my God” (Isaiah 57:21).

“He judges and wages war in righteousness” (Rev 19:11).

However, one might argue that war and violence is to be waged by God alone, not his people. After all, vengeance is his (Rom 12:19) and we are commanded to turn the other cheek and love our enemies. While the Israelites were commanded by God to wage war, Jesus gives no such command and seems to prohibit violence. The closest Jesus himself came to violence is whipping the money-changers (Jn 2:14-16; see also Mk 11:15-16, Mt 21:12-13, Lk 19:45-46).

What about national self-defense? There is much to support it in the Old Testament. With regard to the New Testament, according to St. Augustine, while Jesus tells each of us to personally to turn the other cheek and offer no resistance to one who is evil, the state rightfully holds the sword that can be used in defense against evil:

“But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer” (Rom 13:4).

Also, why does Jesus instruct his disciples to arm themselves if not to use them for some purpose? “[O]ne who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one” (Lk 22:36).

(See also http://www.lawandliberty.org/defense.htm and http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/qselfdefense.html)

In addition to these Scriptural supports, there is just war theory that was developed by the Catholic Church. Also, biblically and as well as historically, soldiers were not told to leave the army when they became Christians.

Therefore, Christianity, at least, does not advocate state pacifism. And if the Iraq War was waged in self-defense, then it was not a violation of Christian teaching.

Posted in Christianity and Politics, Government and Politics, Iraq War, Politics and Religion, Religion and Theology, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Christianity, Peace, and War (Part 1)

Posted by Tony Listi on November 22, 2007

“Conservative Christians abandon their Christian duty to be peacemakers when they support a warhawk president.”

There are two fundamental questions raised by this statement: What is peace for the Christian? Are Christians commanded to be pacifists? There is no distinction between just and unjust war in this statement, unless “warhawk” is clumsily meant to imply “unjust war.” 

First of all, peace for the Christian is something that comes from God, from the Prince of Peace more specifically:

“Indeed, the spirits of prophets are under the prophets’ control, since he is not the God of disorder but of peace (1 Cor 14:33).” 

“The way of peace have they [pagans/non-Christians] not known” (Rom 3:17). 

“Having made peace through the blood of his cross . . .” (Colossians 1: 20). 

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5: 1).

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Coloss 3:15). 

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).

But from the last verse especially, it is clear that the peace of Christ is something different from the peace of the world. It is the peace of being reconciled with God. Therefore, a verse like “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) should be viewed as spreading the peace of Christ. Christians should seek after and spread Christ’s peace first and foremost.

“If possible, on your part, live at peace with all” (Rom 12:18). We should strive, if possible, for peace with all nations. But Scripture tells us we will not be able to create world peace, the absence of violent conflict among nations:

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6-7, emphasis mine).

In fact, at the end of times, the Lamb calls forth war for his own purposes: “Another horse came out, a red one. Its rider was given power to take peace away from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another. And he was given a huge sword” (Rev 6:4). 

Only when justice is established at the Last Judgment by Christ can peace, both Christ’s peace and world peace, reign. Why? Because then Christ will be our King and all nations will be subject to him:

“For you have assumed your great power and have established your reign. The nations raged, but your wrath has come…” (Rev 11:17-18).

“Out of his mouth came a sharp sword to strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod…” (Rev 19:15).

“The government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7). 

Take notice that real peace on earth only comes after justice has been established. Justice takes precedent over peace, conceived of as the absence of conflict. In fact, God’s justice is established by war and violence first and then comes everlasting peace. Government also is given the sword to establish justice (Rom 13:3-4). Thus if the Iraq War was just (meant and able to establish justice), then it was not a violation of the command to be peacemakers. Indeed, where injustice reigns there can be no peace. There was no real peace under Saddam Hussein before the invasion.

Therefore, a verse like “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) should be viewed also as “Blessed are those who establish justice,” for there is no peace without justice.

Posted in Christianity and Politics, Government and Politics, Iraq War, Politics and Religion, Religion and Theology, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »