In his first address after 9/11, President Bush called the acts of the men steering airplanes with our fellow Americans into the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania acts of evil. I don’t think any of us can deny this. So what did President Bush tell us to do? To continue our American lives. To continue our consumerism. So we bought houses we couldn’t afford. We used our credit cards to buy useless material possessions. We bought meals we didn’t need while people starved around the world. This was the American lifestyle that he spoke of, the one he called us to continue. The lifestyle, contributing with the financial devastation of 9/11 helped contribute to our present financial state as a country.
If that wasn’t enough, he then told us to go to war. If we take the New Testament seriously, then we ought to be frustrated of our American actions. It was Paul who taught the governing authorities spoken of in Romans 13, to follow the ethics and way of love described in Romans 12:
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Unfortunately, we did repay the evil act with the same evil act. We sent tanks, fighter pilots, and we killed far more innocent civilians, than they killed our soldiers. If we want to be American Christians, and have Christian American Leaders, then we need to abide by Christian ethics. Unfortunately, we did not live at peace with everyone. We did take revenge. We could have heaped the burning coals onto their heads, but we decided to respond to their evil with more evil. Violence does not solve the problem of violence. War is not acceptable solution, especially with murderers. Creating peace is the way of Jesus. Loving your enemies is the way of Jesus. Feeding our enemies and giving them something to drink is. Would we allow our government to go and kill Timothy McVeigh’s family, friends, relatives, colleagues to repay his evil bombing in Oklahoma City? Of course not. So why was it okay to go over and destroy Afghanistan and Iraq?
Richard Rohr says it so well, “If violence is a way to solve international problems, then it is a way to solve problems at home too. We can’t say it’s good here but it’s bad there.”