Once again, it seems our nation is caught between a rock and a hard place. This time, it’s between Iraq and Iran, and the hard place is Syria.
Our nation is divided between those who lean into those old rock lyrics: “War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again!” and those who believe that even a pacifist must consider picking up a baseball bat if there is no other way to stop someone from savagely beating a child.
Or, in this case, hundreds of children, thousands of people.
By the time you read this, we will be farther down the road toward either more violence or leaning into a shaky, fragile truce with nations that have not proven to be trustworthy or hesitant to use poison gas on their own populace.
For our nation, a nation both war-weary and suspicious of being deceived once again, it truly is a hard place to be.
So what might be a suitable response for people of faith? Where is balance to be found between the mandate to love even one’s enemies, and to stand up for vulnerable neighbors lest they be destroyed?
The call to prayer is a most common faith response but certainly cannot remain the only one, nor can the call to violence be either quickly or blindly embraced.
A theologian once counseled that nations cannot be driven by the Christian gospel but by law. Those laws must both be national and international, lest the foxes of the world kill all the chickens, and the wolves destroy every sheep.
Agreed upon, just law is to act like a farmer or shepherd, a police officer and judge in standing up against those whose aim is to destroy.
So, if prayer is the first response, I encourage you to make them prayers for time, for cool diplomatic heads, for workable alternatives to violence, because violence begets more violence.
And if the strong enforcement of law becomes the next likely choice, plead for broadly supported, clearly defined action with focused, limited destruction, only as a last resort, and only if undertaken with truthful transparency.
War is not good for much, and even the Lord knows we, all the world over, are war-weary.Matters of Faith columnist Kim Latterell can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.