If You’re Wrong about War, then Maybe Sex Also

Alan Jacobs picks up slack for Jamie Smith’s argument that modern Christians should not reduce orthodoxy to heterosexual sex (about which I tend to agree). But he loses me when he seems to agree with the analogy between sex and pacifism:

the grammar of credal orthodoxy is a generative one, from which the whole of Christian ethics emerges. But it does not inevitably do this in obvious ways, ways that Christians are generally agreed about. Smith’s example of pacifism is a telling one. For the Christian pacifist, the very heart of the credal grammar is that in Christ God is at work reconciling the world to himself, and that therefore the whole life of the Church is to participate in that reconciliation, which enjoins a steadfast refusal of armed conflict. For the Christian pacifist, the Christian who believes that wars can be just has simply failed to grasp that credal grammar. And yet most Christian pacifists do not say that just-war Christians fall outside the scope of orthodoxy. And I think they don’t say this because they recognize the difference between grammatical rules that are explicitly stated and the consequences that implicitly follow from those rules.

What Bible (or Christian tradition — think popes reigning over Papal States and emperors executing justice in Caesaro-Papist manner) are these guys reading?

Since when does the religion of the Bible oppose armed conflict? Redemption in the OT sure seemed to rely on a fair amount not merely of just war but jihad. Jesus redeemed his people by shedding his blood to the emperor’s sword. Jesus will return in judgment and from reading Revelation it does not look like Quakers will be in charge. And then there is Paul’s instruction that God ordains the emperor’s use of the sword.

With friends of pacifism like this, I’m not confident orthodoxy — even limited to Nicea — has a chance.

25 thoughts on “If You’re Wrong about War, then Maybe Sex Also

  1. Yeah, I really don’t understand “Christian pacifism” at all. Do these folks not realize Jesus said to render unto Caesar AND render unto God? Pacifists seem to think that because we are in Christ’s eternal Kingdom, we can no longer participate in a temporal, earthly kingdom. Certainly our first loyalty is to the Kingdom of God, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have ANY loyalty to an earthly kingdom. The two are not mutually exclusive. At least not entirely.


  2. Vae,
    But loyalty should not be blind. And participation in the temporal kingdom can also include challenging Caesar when his decisions are morally wrong.


  3. Curt – of course loyalty should not be blind – Paul makes that clear. If by “challenging Caesar when…morally wrong” you mean speaking prophetically to inherently sinful policy (e.g. legal elective abortion), then I agree. If you mean civil disobedience or violent overthrow or something else, then I disagree. We must submit to authorities unless they order us to do something sinful, even if we don’t like the leader and their decisions in general.


  4. Vae,
    I oppose violent overthrow, and everyone else who shares my view should have also opposed the American Revolution.

    As for Civil Disobedience, that is exactly what the Apostes did when they were prohibited from preaching the Gospel again. Now are you telling me that preaching the Gospel when it is prohibited is the only time Civil Disobedience is practice in the Scriptures? And, btw, that is exactly what you are saying at the end. Should we be silent when there are people in our nation who are treated unjustly by the powers that be?


  5. Curt, “participation in the temporal kingdom can also include challenging Caesar when his decisions are morally wrong.”

    Exactly what Peter and Paul said.



  6. D.G.,
    First, they didn’t say it was wrong. They simply had certain urgencies because of the times. Second, didn’t John the Baptist challlenge Herod? And didn’t the OT prophets challenge the different kings of Israel?

    So what that Peter and Paul didn’t mention that. What should Chritians do when the head of a nation is pursuing immoral policies? Or such a thing impossible in 2KT?


  7. Curt, All policies are more or less immoral. Why? It’s a fallen world, or haven’t you heard.

    The funny thing about the prophets is that God commissioned them. You? Do you still think God is speaking to you? In tongues?


  8. D.G.,
    All policies are more-less immoral so no policies really stand out which would require us opposing them? So emancipating the slaves is as immoral as instituting slavery? And dismantling Jim Crow is as immoral subjecting Blacks to it?

    Oh, btw, if the world is fallen and all policies are more or less immoral, then certainly that also applies to individual behaviors. So keeping sex within the confines of a monogamous marriage is as immoral as sleeping around?

    If only you would quit your elitism and stop playing games, we could actually have some decent discussions.


  9. D.G.,
    Again, it goes back to the questions I asked:

    1. So emancipating the slaves is as immoral as instituting slavery?

    2. And dismantling Jim Crow is as immoral subjecting Blacks to it?

    Would love to further discuss the issue with you but can only do so when you answer those 2 questions.


  10. Curt, whoever said that? You’re such a black and white tribalist. And you say you fear the either-or conservatives out there.

    Watch out for log in your own eye.

    I personally oppose slavery. I don’t see it condemned in Scripture. So it’s a personal conviction. I also think that a way to emancipate slaves exists other than war. You’re comfortable with 700,000 dead?

    That’s right. You had a thing for Communism.


  11. D.G.,
    Too many times, you don’t get your facts straight. First, I am Socialist, not a Communist. But even in saying that, there many different forms of socialism.

    But note that you answered neither question. Rather, you pivoted like a politician. Why do you pivot so much? Only you know.


  12. Vae,
    By oppose I mean the following:

    1. strongly disagree with

    2. speak out against

    3. protest against if given the opportunity

    4. and would report to the government specific attempts made by those who are trying to violently overthrow the government of which I become aware.


  13. D.G.,
    No, you didn’t call me a socialist. You wrote:

    That’s right. You had a thing for Communism.

    BTW, I have no problem condemning the mass killing of people by the Soviet Union, China, and what any other nation has done so whether they do that in the name of Communism or Socialism or in fighting against Communism or Socialism.

    But more importantly, you have refused to answer the two questions I asked before. And that is after you wrote the following:

    Curt, All policies are more or less immoral. Why? It’s a fallen world, or haven’t you heard.

    But you refuse to answer the questions. All you have said is that the Scriptures didn’t speak against slavery so all you can muster are personal objections. So I will ask one more time:

    1. So emancipating the slaves is as immoral as instituting slavery?

    2. And dismantling Jim Crow is as immoral subjecting Blacks to it?


  14. Curt, wrong:

    You’re killing me. The economy hasn’t relied on slavery for over 150 years. But that hasn’t stopped your b-wording about the economy.

    Any chance to grandstand for socialism, you’ll take it. The abolitionists favored capitalism, dude. Free labor, free soil, free men. Nothing collective about that.


  15. D.G.,
    Yes, the economy partially relies on slavery whenever workers that contribute to the economy are trafficked. And the trafficked workers whose labor we benefit from work both in the US and in other nations.

    BTW, do you honestly think that opposition to the trafficking of workers is the concern of socialism alone?


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