Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Warrior's Dilemma

David Grossman says that sheepdog/warriors long for righteous battle. Many Christians who respond to the warrior calling share that longing.

Here's a question those Christian Martialists must answer (prompted by a recent email from deolexrex): "When the opportunity to do battle arises, does the rightness of the cause really matter?"

The answer seems obvious . . . at first. Of course the righteous warrior must fight in a cause that is right. Otherwise he wouldn't be a righteous warrior, right?

Before jumping to any hasty conclusions, you might consider a hypothetical situation.

The scene is Germany in 1936. Hans is a Christian in his late teens who knows in his heart that he is a warrior.

Hans knows that his country has suffered humiliation and economic ruin unjustly at the hands of England and the United States after World War I. He also knows that his nation has emerged from misery under its charismatic Fuhrer who inspires real patriotism in the people.

On the other hand, Hans has read Mein Kampf, which contains Herr Hitler's blueprint for his regime. Taken literally, the book portends evil days ahead.

Here's the dilemma: Hans is a Christian warrior. Does he join the German Wermacht, as he harbors the hope to fight those nations which have so ill-treated his family, friends and neighbors? Or does he oppose Hitler because he sees the evil that may come about?

How would you advise Hans? Do you have a Biblical basis for your advice? Please share your view in the comments section.

Continued in "Warrior's Dilemma, 2"


Emil Bandy said...

I don't think that anyone would argue that it would be right for someone to fight for an unrighteous cause... I think that the argument circles around what a righteous cause actually is....

Anyhoo, that's the only comment I'll post on this subject.. I'm currently working through this myself, so I'd rather not be throwing out comments when I haven't completely figured it all out myself. But expect me to be following it!!

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Just an off-the-hip answer here (Emil's approach may prove better!).

First, if I remember right it was mostly France, England and co., and less the US, that oppressed Germany so much. (While it turned out to be going too far, at least on the practical scale as it created a war monster, they weren't entirely free from blame from the first world war.) But that's beside the point.

A real Christian warrior, with a mind for history, should be able to see some issues with someone such as Hitler. You said he read Mein Kampf. Well, adding all that up together shouldn't that indicate that there are some serious issues with Germany's new leader? Hans should be extremely careful.

Like I said, that was off the hip. Maybe I can come up with something better later?

Thanks for challenging us once again--it's good for warriors....


Gravelbelly said...

Thanks for your participation, guys. I hope some others will also ring in on this one.

You don't have to agree with me to participate.

Emil, I plan to get into the issue of what constitutes a righteous cause (eventually). Thanks for bringing it up.

DrPaleo, the reason I lump the US along with England & France is twofold. First, I don't think the US had any business getting involved in the war in the first place. Ever since the Treaty of Paris (1815), the European powers were jockeying for a position of supremacy. I don't see any 'good guys vs. bad guys' situation here. The whole bunch were just 'greedy guys'. I cannot discern any truly righteous reason for our entrance into that war. Second, although France made the biggest claims for German reparations, the particulars of the Treaty of Versailles (1919) were hammered out by the "Big Three" (US, England & France). We jumped with both feet into a war that was not our business, and we must therefore bear our share of the responsibility for its aftermath.

At least, that's how I see it. The history buffs among you may see it differently, and I respect your opinion -- no matter how wrong.

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Not having studied WWI at all really, I can't say much, other than that although my knowledge is limited what I know doesn't conflict with what you say (I was merely making a minor point in my first comment). And even if I should come to disagree when I learn more about WWI, then it's all a matter of opinion and I have an inkling it'd be a really small difference anyway. ;-)


Randall Gerard said...


I don't think Hans would have been able to discern the evil from reading "Mein Kampf". Let me explain. In the '30's, when Hitler came to power, virtually everybody in Germany loved him. Everybody in Europe loved him. And lots of people here in America loved him. My point? The ideas in 'Mein Kampf' were pretty mainstream and universal for the time and place. It was only in retrospect and by hindsight that we see the errors of thinking that way. But consider, eugenics and master race type thinking was very common here in America, thanks to Margaret Sanger and others. These people were respected in the '30's. And I don't believe for a minute that anyone really connected the dots until well after VE day.

So, I don't think Hans would have connected the dots either. We are all products of our time and place, and therefore, we all have blind-spots common to the culture in which we live. Americans think living in debt is normal, for crying out loud. Just one example.

Gravelbelly said...

You're absolutely right. I concede every point you've made. But remember I was using Hans to create a hypothetical situation in which a young man must decide whether or not to enter a war which he knows to be unjust.

The goal of this exercise is to analyze the ethical dilemma of someone who believes, on the one hand, that he is called to the life of a warrior but, on the other hand, realizes that joining his country's military would require him to fight for an unjust cause.

The rest is just window dressing.

If it helps, let's just say that Hans was an unusually perceptive youth.

After all, there were a few who saw through the Nazi facade, just as there were a few who -- in the post-9/11 hysteria -- questioned the wisdom of fighting a war for questionable motives and with ill-defined military objectives in the Middle East. And it was (is) an undeclared (that is, an unconstitutional therefore illegal) war, to boot.

Nevertheless, I want to thank you for your obviously well-thought-out analysis. It helps to keep me honest.