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Summary: The United States of America is on the verge of war. This country that we love so much is in the middle of a great conflict over whether or not we should go to war against Iraq. On the one side there are those who believe it would be immoral for us to g

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As I stand before you this morning, the United States of America is on the verge of war. This country that we love so much is in the middle of a great conflict over whether or not we should go to war against Iraq. On the one side there are those who believe it would be immoral for us to go to war, and on the other side are those who believe that there is justifiable cause for us to go to war.

All across our world millions of people have been demonstrating as pressure as pressure mounts to come up with a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis. Religious leaders, rock stars, movie stars and media personalities have entered the fray. Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are making their voices heard. It seems that everyone has an opinion to express. It is a very difficult and tense time as the people of the world watch and wait to see what will happen.

I speak to you this morning realizing that there are sincere people on both sides of this issue and that the issues are extremely complex. This morning I want to try to give a biblical perspective concerning the issues of war and peace.

I have personally struggled with the ethical issues involved. If we invade Iraq, what about the innocent people of that country who will suffer and die?

What about the hate of my country, your country, the United States of America, that will be generated by a war? This is a hate that may well continue for years to come and affect the generations after us.

What about the loss of life of our soldiers that we most certainly will incur and the resulting loss of these people’s contribution to the world? What about the scars, physical, emotional and spiritual, that will affect the lives of those who fight the war — on both sides?

What will this war do to our nation’s soul? What about our fellow believers from other countries who will die in this war?

How does my belief in the sanctity of human life affect my beliefs about the justification for war?

Many of us have loved ones in the military now. What if they die in battle? My son is over there in harm’s way as we speak. How will I feel if he loses his life to a bullet from the enemy, friendly fire, or God forbid, as the result of chemical or biological weapons?

There are many questions about this war that haunt me. At heart, I am an idealist, one that believes we must always fight for what is right, but at the same time I have to face some very grim realities. These are realities with which we must all grapple, whichever side of the issue we are on.

The first reality we need to face is the reality that there is evil in this world. I have been amazed as I have listened to some of the talk shows on radio and watched them on television. So many people call in and actually believe that if we just try hard enough we can negotiate with Saddam Hussein and get him to destroy his weapons of mass destruction. They believe that if we just give him what he wants, or make our case patiently and clearly enough, he will understand and will ultimately cooperate.

Whatever our position on war is, we must understand that there are some people who are truly evil, people who are determined to abuse their power even to the point of using instruments of death to accomplish their purposes. Whether we believe we should go to war or not, we cannot escape the reality that there is evil in this world, and the fact that there are some people with whom you can never negotiate.

The vast majority of Christians have always understood the reality of the existence of evil in the world. Most have held to the belief that war should always be the course of last resort, but that sometimes there is no other option left.

I think we would probably all agree, as Christians, that war is never something good, and should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary in order for us to protect our nation and other nations from a worse fate.

Before World War II the world did not take seriously the evil of a man named Adolph Hitler. The nations of the world engaged in a policy of appeasement, peace at all cost. At that time in history, there was a man named Neville Chamberlain who was the Prime Minister of Great Britain. He understood that his country was still tired and weary from World War I, and he wanted to avoid war at all costs.

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