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Onward Christian Soldiers?

Amongst the incredibly distressing scenes we have witnessed on the news of late about the war in Ukraine, I was particularly and strangely moved by the women in the city of Dnipro who were spending their time making home-made ‘Molotov Cocktails’ (petrol bombs) in order to protect their families from Putin’s ruthless troops. These were wives, mothers, daughters and sisters who were saying “We have to do something”, as the West is not coming to their aid.

As Christians we don’t like to see scenes like this no matter what the circumstances are as Jesus has taught us  that we should love our enemies, we should return good for evil, that vengeance is God’s alone and that the peacemakers are blessed. But these women and their family are currently in Hell- we just can’t imagine what they are going through as hundreds and almost certainly thousands of them are being shelled and crushed into submission, and our hearts go out to them.

Now the idea of people using force and violence even in self-defence has always been a difficult concept for us as Christians down the ages. Some Christians (especially Quakers) are pacifists and feel there are no situations where they can justify the use of force but many others (me included I have to say) feel that ‘righteous anger’ or ‘limited aggression’ is justified in order to bring about justice and to protect the weak. It is something that early Christians such as Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas argued for where a) force is needed for a just cause because of some wrong that has occurred and b) that those using force have the right intent-that of promoting good and to prevent evil.

Jesus also teaches us about righteous anger in the story of the moneychangers in the temple (in all four gospels) where he uses his anger to expel them from the Temple using not just his words but by actual physical force -by overturning their tables, using a whip out of cords and throwing away their money in order to make his point that people were using God’s house as a ‘den of thieves’ and making it difficult for people to praise his Father there. The idea of God’s people justifiably using force is there in the Bible for example in the accounts of Abraham fighting the four kings (Genesis) and David using force to slay Goliath (Samuel). So in extremis it is justified.

Like so many other Christians we at St Mary’s have had Ukraine very much in our thoughts and prayers and we know how effective they can be. However, for many Ukrainians that support no matter how well appreciated may not be enough as they are in mortal terror now and they need active support (and force) from the West but that is not coming because of the fear of a nuclear war. That means people like the women of Dnipro are having to try and save their families themselves in the only way they feel they can – through what I think can be truly said is an example of ‘righteous anger’.


Tags: Famous Christians, Ukraine, Putin, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas