Slate interviews Josh Stieber, who decided during his tour in Iraq that he “would rather go to prison than remain in the military.” He got conscientious objector status instead, but the whole interview here is compelling. Money quote:
I thought back to all the stuff I’d heard sitting next to this guy in church, and I asked him, “Well, even if he is guilty, what about the idea of loving our enemies and returning evil with good and turning the other cheek? How do you reconcile all those teachings?” My friend said, “I think that Jesus would have turned his cheek once or twice but he never would have let anyone punk him around.” Hearing him say it that way just made it sound so ridiculous. Here we supposedly had faith in this guy who very clearly was punked around, and ended up living and dying with sacrificial love. From then on, I really had to face the fact that I couldn’t have it both ways. Either I was going to try to find this inward reality where sacrificial love was possible for a higher goal, or I was going to let self-defense be my ultimate value.
Read the whole thing.
Two of my best friends in high school went straight into the military after graduation—one into the medical corps, the other into the infantry. I never could have done it. Back then, I wouldn’t have done it because I was 127 pounds (not that that’s changed much) and more interested in religion (surprise, surprise) than national security. But now, I resonate with everything this guy is saying.
I am also continually amazed at Christian folks’ ability to circumnavigate the Sermon on the Mount. Man.
(Hat tip: The Daily Dish)