A Just War
Christians are against fighting as God wants everyone to live in peace, but sometimes it is the only option, such as to fight evil and defend the weak. Thomas Aquinas came up with a set of conditions for a 'just war':
- the war must be started by a proper authority, the government of ruler, not independent groups
- the reason must be just, and should not be for greed or revenge, but a sincere attempt to make the world a better place
- everything should be done to make sure that good, rather than evil results from the war. Peace should be restored
Later these were also added:
- war must be a last resort, and every other way of solving conflict been tried
- the force used must be enough to win but no more than that. People who do not present a threat should not be attacked, and unnecessary cruelty is wrong
Violence and Pacifism
Some Christian groups refuse to fight in wars, such as Quakers. They believe that it is always wrong to fight and are called pacifists. When they refuse to fight in a war, they are called conscientious objectors.
The Bible teaches different things about war. Some were called to fight for the nation of Israel in the old testament, but other texts look forward to a time when there will be worldwide peace.
'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.'
Treatment of Criminals
Christian punishments have four main aims:
- Deterrence - it acts as a warning and puts others off offending
- Protection - it keeps the innocent safe
- Reformation - it gives criminals a chance to before a better person
- Retribution - the punishment that the criminal deserves and so others can see they've paid back for what they've done.
Jesus taught 'Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?'
When a woman was bought to him for a crime punishable by death by stoning, his enemies asked him what to do in hope he would contradict the law. He replied 'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.'
As Christians believe that all humans are loved equally by God, any unfair treatment because of who they are is seen as unjust. They have therefore worked to produce 'social justice'.
The Bible teaches to help those who are poor and weak fairly, despite a different origin, race or social groups. Christians often join groups that work to help people who are mistreated in some way.
Leviticus 19:33-34 'When an alien lives with you in your land, do not ill-treat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself.'