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Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today
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Christian Responses to Issues Surrounding Conflict
Conflict: The opposition of individuals or groups that may result in aggression or fighting.
The Nature and History of Conflict
We live in a world that is, sadly, full of violence. The world has always known violence, however, weaponry - notably weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - has evolved making it much easier to kill lots of people in a single airstrike, making the world a much more dangerous place to live in today. Indeed, the United Nations has called it a 'new era of conflict and violence.'
Technological advances have contributed to the changing nature of conflict:
- People are able to acquire biological and chemical weapons more easily.
- The development of lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs), which can identify and engage a specific target without human guidance, has been developed. Where previously humans have based their decisions on a human moral system, LAWS are machines that don't have the capacity to consider a moral dilemma. They shoot to kill autonomously.
- The rise of cyber-attacks has been dramatic over the previous five years. These can undermine international peace and security, with the potential to cause substantial damage and loss of life.
Christians, like everyone, are concerned about the way in which violence is on the increase in the world, understanding that modern weaponry has changed the way conflict is waged today.
Christians follow the teachings and example of Jesus, who taught that peace was very important. They believe that where there is conflict, discussion and reconciliation should be sought to resolve any issues, not fighting.
Christians have different views about war:
- Some believe that war is acceptable if the conditions of a just war are met.
- Others believe that war is never acceptable. They are particularly concerned about the nature of warfare today, with WMD capable of killing millions of people in one strike.
All Christians disagree with terrorist activities. Responsible for causing the death of many people, Christians are completely against it as it usually involves killing innocent people. For example, the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017 resulted in 22 lives lost - some of whom were children - and hundreds being injured. Christians condemn this type of conflict.
'But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on one cheek, let him hit the other one too; if someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Give to everyone who asks you for something, and when someone takes what is yours, do not ask for it back. Do for others just what you want them to do for you.' Luke 6:27–31
Jesus taught that Christians should not use violence to resolve conflict. Instead, he tells them to take a peaceful approach. The final verse here is the Golden Rule: treat others as you wish to be treated. In other words, if you'd like someone to have a peaceful approach to you, then you should also do the same for others.
How have Christians worked to overcome conflict?
Because of their belief in peace as the ideal state, some Christians get involved in activities that promote it. There are organisations, for example:
Alongside these, Christians may be found holding special church meetings or candlelit vigils after violence has occurred. They might pray or share memories about the people who have died. An example of this was the candlelit vigil that was held in March 2021, in memory of Sarah Everard and all women affected by or lost to violence.
Christians may also offer help to those in their community when violence has occurred, giving practical and emotional support to those who need it.