Does patriotism justify killing?

Patriotism has driven a lot of people who would normally never think of killing anyone, to kill. It has even become a cowardly act not to kill and die for one’s country.

But where on earth did such an idea come from? It’s not in Scripture. God doesn’t tell us to kill and die for our country. And he’s the one with the authority as to what should and shouldn’t be done for one’s country, because he was the one who created countries in the first place (Acts 17:26).

And it was never his idea to set country against country, nor did he ever hint that one country was superior to another, or that one race had his divine approval to treat members of other races as inferior or subhuman.

God’s purpose for creating nations wasn’t to have people make gods out of their countries either. According to Acts 17:27 God created nations “so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him.” So think how different our history would be if we’d done that and made him the God we seek, not national pride. And what if we’d concentrated our attention as nations on seeking God as the solution to our problems, rather than war or killing those who oppose us?

And God did give us an example of what happens to nations that trust him. The nation of Israel in the Old Testament wasn’t the greatest example of a nation that trusted God, but when they did trust him their problems evaporated and their enemies were crushed, and often without one Israelite being killed or any Israelite having to lift a finger in self-defence.

But what nation since has ever trusted God enough to see if he’ll do that for them too? What if before World War 2 the millions of Christians living in Britain and Germany “sought God and reached out for him” to solve the impossible situation developing, rather than stirring up people’s patriotic fervour to the point they’d do anything for their country, including sacrifice their lives for it, and kill innocent people?

God proved again and again to Old Testament Israel that he could be trusted to resolve their impossible situations, and against enemies with massively superior numbers and much better weapons. So he was justifiably furious when Israel did not seek him as their first choice for solving their problems, preferring instead a patriotic call to war and killing, just as Christian nations did before and during World War 2.

The result of that kind of patriotism, though, has always been the unnecessary death and suffering of millions of people. When will we ever learn?

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