About five years ago, the evening news aired a report that showed that the sights used on military weapons had references to Bible verses built into them; there were ten verses and both John 8:12 and 2 Corinthians 4:6 were among them. There was quite a bit of an outcry and that soon changed. Faith and fighting, however, still go hand-in-hand. Many Biblical metaphors are that of the warrior: ‘I have fought the good fight’, ‘the weapons we fight with’, ‘you may fight the battle well’, ‘like a good soldier of Christ Jesus’ etc. So it should come as no surprise that believers believe in the spiritual values of battles and warfare particularly in the spiritual sense.They should be careful: when everything is about war then there is no room for peace.
One who believes that they are in a war against spiritual powers might well recall a line from Narnia: “Numbers don’t win the battle – but they surely do help.” Something to that effect anyway. In a world with billions of unbelievers – adherents to other religions and non-religious individuals – there’s only a few ways to be certain that you have numbers on your side. One method is the conversion of existing individuals and another method is to raise the next generation of warriors to carry on the battle. The problem with conversion is that you have to spend time discipling a person into your teachings and unlearning what they might have learned pre-conversion. At least when you raise the next generation you can be certain that their background is spent fully immersed in your teachings. They can be made ready to join in the fight at a younger age and hold out at the front lines far more quickly.
So when you are mobilized to take up the cause by challenging Evolution, you can send out your arrows – high school and college students – to pick up the Christian banner and challenge the enemy in fairly short amount of time where it does the most damage. Discipled converts are usually far too old to battle the system from the inside and can only play a support role from the outside. And when you’re sent to battle against the latest supreme court decision, you can count on the young adults who were schooled in complementarianism to stand against the tide of change by living out their gender roles in a Biblical way. Whereas older converts may have missed the golden window in their partying days because they don’t make good examples for the children to follow.
That’s the problem when Christians view everything spiritual in terms of warfare and battle.
So long as people only have so much value as they are a weapon to fight against worldliness and stand up for Christian beliefs, a system will exist that diminishes the value of people who are ‘useless’ as weapons then they are just people who don’t matter. The younger they are, the better ‘weapon’ they happen to be – as they get older their usefulness declines. Yes, the Bible does use battle metaphors, and it uses farming metaphors, and it uses management metaphors as well. I just don’t think that the approach Christianity has taken over the last few decades has improved Christian morality. In fact, I think it has done quite the opposite particularly when it is pushed to an extreme.
I think a lot of young people are sick and tired of it all though. After decades of Christianity + Republican Party a lot of people are having a hard time seeing Jesus’ blessing being applicable to the current front-runner. After decades of Christianity + America a lot of people are wondering about all those other countries out there. So they’re not signing up to go through boot camp to be sent to the front lines – and in the process they’re discovering the Jesus that exists outside of the version that they were taught. The Jesus that challenged the Pharisees and calls us to challenge our own religious leaders for they cannot see their hypocrisy. The Jesus that calls us to care about the down and out, the immigrant and the illegal because they are people searching for help and for something better. The Jesus that only gets on the nerves of the politicians because he challenged people to to be selfless servants. This Jesus that calls us to fight against ourselves first and foremost and not to harm others. To be sure it’s a difficult balance, but I think the message of a pacifistic Jesus gets lost by the leaderships tendency to emphasize fighting for the Christian cause. Jesus knew when not to fight – and that was almost all the time. Christians could learn a lot from a guy like Jesus if they were willing to take him at his word: ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.‘