Just War Theory is The Best Point of View

Topics: NonviolenceWar

In one of her books, St. Teresa of Calcutta wrote, “We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion.” And while Mother Teresa was a incredibly holy woman of much wisdom, but I believe that she fails to grasp the value of violence motivated by justice. While pacifism is attractive on the surface, I believe that the just war theory is the best outlook. In his article, “The Church and Nonviolence,” John Dear makes an emphatic argument for pacifism as the superior moral viewpoint for Christians.

He arrives at this conclusion by looking at Scripture. In his view, Christ lived and preached radical nonviolence, and we as Christians should seek to be like Christ in all things.

And part of this view, is completely justified. Christ was radically nonviolent in action. Despite being rejected and rebuked by crowds, he never so much as blinked an eye. When he knew that Judas would betray him, he didn’t prevent him.

He complied with the soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemani, even instructing Peter to put down his sword. He did not put up a fight as he was unjustly tortured and killed. And yet, despite Christ’s inaction and nonviolence, Dear points out that death does not get the last word–Christ is resurrected from the dead. “Resurrection means having nothing to do with death, having not a drop of violence in you” (Dear).

Dr. Schlabach wrote an article advocating for peace and pacifism in a world that embraces the just war theory.

Get quality help now

Proficient in: Nonviolence

4.7 (657)

“ Really polite, and a great writer! Task done as described and better, responded to all my questions promptly too! ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

He, like many theologians, question the very existence of any so-called “just war”. And he believes that the Church plays a major role use of just war to advance militarism and ignore the potential of nonviolence. Just war “overlooks and even undermines alternative approaches” (Schlabach). Schlabach argues that when we are so quick to justify our own violence, we fail to exhaust every possible option: diplomacy and peace-building. “We should no longer damn nonviolence with faint praise by recognizing it only as a heroic witness for saints, or as a tactic we recommend to protesters only when we fear their desperation will turn violent and upset our comfortable lives.” Further, Schlabach summarizes Pope Francis’ view on peace: “Francis implies, nonviolence must become normal and natural to us—must become our very ‘style of politics.’ We must recognize its potential and indeed its power not just in private life, but for civil society movements, and in public life and governance itself” (Schlabach).

This pacifism should be creative; it must be built as a new political theory. There are a couple more arguments for pacifism over just war that I think are adequate. I think a worthy argument against the just war theory, for nonviolence, is the responsibility that just war places on those who determine it. Whose responsibility is it to determine whether a cause for violence is just or not? Only God knows true justice. Arguably, our views are ultimately subjective. God is truth. He is the only truth, and all other truth comes from him. Another argument for pacifism that I find competent (and yet unconvincing), is one that I am rather surprised that Dear did not bring up (probably because it is not convincing), is found in Scripture. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’

But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Mt 5:38-39). This seems so clear–when someone aggresses against you, you must not act in return. Violence does not justify violence. This viewpoint is furthered in Matthew’s Gospel in the beatitudes, where Jesus lifts up those who are persecuted and the peacemakers. After all this, I remain unconvinced by pacifism. I do believe that just war exists, and must be allowed in the view of the Church. On a personal level, I will be the first to admit: I come from a personally biased background. Military service is common in my family. Closest to me, my oldest brother spent two years of my childhood serving our country in Iraq. War is the worst. It is not the optimal situation for anyone. But I refuse to believe that my brother, or anyone else, would sacrifice their own lives without sufficient and just reason. It all must be to further the common good.

While it is well-formulated, John Dear is not entirely reasonable. “So for the Christian, there is no such thing as a just war. War is never justified. War is never blessed. War is the mortal sin. War always leads to further wars” (Dear). I feel that Dear is a bit over-selective when it comes to the Scripture he considers. Christ never used violence to defend Himself. However, Christ uses a lot of “violent” imagery when addressing how we are to combat sin–“I did not bring peace, but a sword”. Also Jesus tells the apostles to sell their cloaks and buy a sword. While it is true this is imagery and speaking in metaphor, I still think He’s saying in a way, be ready to defend justice–which at times would include aggression.

Another issue that I take with Dear is his simplistic and infinite view of humanity. He employs Christ’s resurrection as proof of God’s views on nonviolence. Since Christ was nonviolent, even to the point of His death, it seems that Dear believes Christ was rewarded with resurrection. And as Catholics, we do believe that we have eternal souls that will live on passed this earthly world. But I think that this view of death is better than violence ignores the grave value of human life. Human lives are worth living, and worth protecting. If someone were threatening someone that I loved, I would fight for them. That is what just war is; it recognizes that there are some things that are worth fighting for.

But as far as pacifism goes, I think that Dr. Schlabach is closest to the truth. While he questions the existence of just war altogether–he also points out the necessity of positive alternatives. Violence must never be thing that we jump to–it is never the first solution. As a society, we must work to come up with creative solutions to the problems that are driving divisions in our world. But how do we do that when there are no foundational, shared values? It is never in the best interest to compromise for evil. What is the cost we are willing to pay in order to maintain nonviolence? Where is the line drawn? The “war is never justified” viewpoint leaves me with more questions asked, than questions answered. Justice and mercy must be in balance. I believe that it is the duty of all people to preserve justice, when necessary defending themselves and others. Just war is the only possible answer.

Cite this page

Just War Theory is The Best Point of View. (2021, Dec 26). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/just-war-theory-is-the-best-point-of-view/

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7