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RE:QUEST

A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith

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Christian Attitudes to Weapons of Mass Destruction

What does the Bible say?

Christians have different views about war. This is because of their interpretation of the Bible, what their church denomination teaches, and their own personal conscience. However, the vast majority of Christians would favour peace over conflict. They consider the taking of life to be a very serious matter, therefore, many Christians are against the use of weapons of any kind, particularly weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The majority of Christians are against the use of WMD as they kill so many people, including innocent civilians; men, women, and children. God created humans in his image, therefore, all life is sacred and should be cherished, not destroyed.

Christians are also concerned about the damage to the environment that WMD cause. An atomic bomb has the power to wipe out whole ecosystems, destroying what God has created. They feel that the use of WMD compromises their God-given role as stewards of the earth. They believe they will have to face God to be judged when they die, to account for how they treated people and the earth, so work they hard to conserve the earth, not destroy it.

Christian Teachings on WMD

Turning to the Bible for guidance sometimes leads Christians to interpret the solution to moral issues in different ways: certain sections seem to suggest alternative views. Arguably, nowhere is this more true than in the consideration of WMD. A key text on this issue can be found in Deuteronomy 20.

This passage offers arguments both for and against the use of WMD.

AGAINST:

'When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves.' Deuteronomy 20:13-14

Here. God tells the Israelite army to kill any of the men but to leave the women, children, and livestock alive. This might be used to suggest that WMD are not acceptable in God's eyes.

FOR:

'However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you.' Deuteronomy 20:16-17

This shows God telling the Israelites to destroy everything within the city they are attacking, suggesting that WMD are acceptable to God in some circumstances.