I confess I don’t quite know what to think about the current situation in Syria and our nation’s possible involvement in it. Our nation’s leaders are considering a limited military intervention because there is convincing evidence that chemical weapons are being used against the people. Internationally, many nations have agreed that the use of chemical weapons in war is not allowable. Somehow, it is crossing a line that is not to be crossed.
As a Christian, I find myself looking at the situation through a particular lens. The lens through which I see the world is one that asks me to forgive and to love my enemy. The lens through which I see the world also asks me to free the oppressed and care for the least. Do the people being killed by their own government come under these categories? What does the Lord require of me?
I’ve read in a variety of news sources that such an intervention will unlikely end the current conflict, but will “make a statement” about the use of chemical weapons to the Syrian government and other countries that might be tempted to employ their use. Our president has been both praised and criticized for taking the matter to Congress. We are making a statement to the world about the necessary messiness of a democracy over and against the oppressive expediency of a dictatorship. So, we are having a public conversation about war.
There are Christians who believe it’s impossible to be a Christian without being a pacifist. There are Christians who believe one can support the use of military force and still be a Christian. Regardless of wherever we are on the continuum, I believe every Christian finds war regrettable and prefer it be avoided.
It is easy to play armchair foreign policy pundit and armchair ethicist. Our opinions shared in spoken speech and written word don’t cost us much. Whatever is decided in Washington D.C. will more acutely impact the people of Syria and the Middle East and perhaps members of the U.S. military. Perhaps that is for whom our prayers should be said.
There is no easy or uncomplicated solution, but that should not neutralize our capacity as Christians to seek peace and sustain hope. The best we can give to the world is the continuing hope of God’s vision for our world, a vision first prophesied by the Hebrew prophets, in which the lion and the lamb co-habitate. Accepting the inevitability of violence and war is giving up on God’s dream. I trust that God has not yet given up on us, so maybe it’s possible for us to not give up on God or each other.