God is a supporter of war
Debate Rounds (2)
If it is the Christian God we are debating then our chief source of information regarding God's relationship to war is the Bible itself. All verses I cite will be taken from the English Standard Version translation of the Bible.
God used war to fulfill his promise to Abraham and as an example of his wrath on sin. In Genesis 15 part of God's promise to Abraham was the land of Canaan. This promise comes to fulfillment after the Exodus from Egypt when God commanded war on the canaanites in Deuteronomy 20:16"18:
"But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded, that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God."
This is a clear example of the God of the Bible supporting war. The wrath against the idolatry of the Canaanites should come as no surprise when reading of the Levitical laws concerning the punishments for idolatry (see Leviticus 20). Also, Genesis 9:6 clearly lays out a death penalty for those that are murderers. So the war on the canaanites is consistent with that, as the canaanites performed child sacrifices. While these were reasons for waging war on the land of Canaan, it was also done (as mentioned above) to fulfill God's promise to Abraham. The land of canaan became the land of Israel, because God had promised Abraham that land. God used the means of war to accomplish this (500 years after making the Abrahamic covenant).
A consistent theme within the Bible is that God uses nations and war as a means of discipline (both to God's people and those outside). 2 Kings 17:18-20 is a clear example of God using war and plunder as a means of discipline:
"Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only. Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight."
You will find similar passages all throughout the books of the prophets (e.g. Jeremiah and Isaiah) where God uses war to discipline the nation of Israel to bring them back to him when they turn away.
When we turn to the New Testament this theme remains. In Romans 13 Paul is talking about how Christians should submit to the civil authorities they are under, as they are a means of justice. Romans 13:4:
"But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he [civil authorities] does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer."
This illuminates the fact that God will use governments as a means of justice, even citing the sword. A similar passage can be found in 1 Peter 2. 1 Peter 2: 13-14:
"Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor[c] as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good."
Without discussing the aspect of God's character that makes him a supporter of war, it is clear that God supports war in the Bible in the sense that it is used for his purposes. He has both commanded war and given governments the means of war as a form of justice.
Con did not deal with the passages I cited directly, but passed over them and used his own to try to defend his position. I tried concisely show the consistent stance of God towards war through the whole narrative of the Bible, but that was not addressed. For this round I will rebut the passages con cites in defense of his stance.
The first passage he quotes is 1 Chronicles 28:3 which is what God says to David when David expresses his desire to build a permanent temple. Before this point the Israelites had a portable tabernacle which was where worship was centralized. This tabernacle housed the Ark of the Covenant. David, during his reign as king, wished to erect a permanent temple for God. As con has quoted, David was denied because God said he was a man of war and had shed blood. Con has interpreted this as meaning God will never approve of war or as the debate subject frames it "supports" war. This view has inconsistencies which I will address below.
David became the king of Israel after God rejected Saul for not waging war like God had commanded him.
Saul was the first king of Israel. At one point as king God had commanded Saul to wage war on the Amalekites, with very specific instructions. 1 Samuel 15:3
"Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.""
Here God commands Saul to destroy the Amalekites. Not only destroy, but to leave nothing alive. Saul disobeyed and left the animals which would be good for sacrifice alive. This is the beginning of his downfall which leads to David's ascension as king. Take note that that this change only took place because God had commanded Saul to wage war in a specific manner.
David is called a man of war and one who sheds blood because of what he did outside of what God commanded. Since God seems to support war (look at the case of Saul just mentioned) we should look at what God could mean. David was not such a great guy as we usually remember him. David committed countless atrocious sins and murder. An example of his bloodshed is in the murdering of Uriah after he had slept with Bathsheba. Another can be seen when David is living under Achish, the king of Gath when he is being endangered by Saul in Israel. In this time period David was constantly robbing and murdering many in the surrounding area so that they could not report the crimes to Achish (see 1 Samuel 27). David continued to do this over the span of several years. None of these horrific things were commanded by God (unlike Joshua who was commended for the wars he commanded), which is why God judged these as horrible acts. This is why David was not allowed to build the temple.
Con also cites Matthew 5:44 which says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. He also brings up "turning the other cheek" which is taken from the same dialogue, Jesus' sermon on the mount. The sermon on the mount is describing the life of a true follower of Christ. These are individual commandments targeted toward a specific group of people. The commands of an individual Christian and a secular government are not identical. If this were the case and these commands were to be followed by governments then there would be no laws that would be able to execute any sort of justice whatsoever. If we apply other passages from the sermon on the mount to how government should function like if someone takes your tunic, "give him your other cloak as well," society would collapse. This is why human governments are given the responsibility of executing justice as mentioned in round 1 with Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2.
I think I have adequately shown that God supporting certain wars is a consistent theme all throughout the Bible and that God has entrusted human governments with the responsibility of executing justice. I think I have also shown that con's verses do not fit contextually, nor with the consistency of the Bible as a whole.
We let the voters decide. Thanks for the debate!
No votes have been placed for this debate.
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.