Thursday, May 15, 2014

When Was the Lord Consulted?

My men’s Bible study this week discussed the deception the Gibeonites foisted on the Israelites in Joshua 9. We noted that here Israel repeated the mistake they had made two chapters earlier, when they were defeated at Ai because of Achan’s sin: they acted without consulting the Lord.
The question came up: when do we have to consciously consult the Lord, and when can we act on principle, if not on autopilot? Surely we should pray about whom we marry and what church we attend, but do we pray over the color of socks we put on, or whether we buy chicken or turkey? If not all or nothing, how do we know where to draw the line?
We didn’t come up with an answer for where we draw the line, but we did agree that when it comes to matters of being yoked to others in covenant we should definitely pray, and of course the context of Joshua 9, war and political alliances, would indicate that we should pray when it comes to matters of war and politics. At that, of course, your intrepid reporter’s ears perked up. Matters of war and politics? Believers deceived into being yoked with unbelievers? Where have I heard that before?
How about during the Vietnam war?
Uncle Sam’s war against the Vietnamese was a total, indisputable failure: sixty thousand US soldiers and a million Vietnamese died for nothing. Uncle Sam told his subjects that the war was to protect our freedom, but, as I never tire of reminding whoever cannot get away from me before I say it, if the war was to protect our freedom, it would follow that our freedoms were lost when the war was lost. Yet the freedoms we have lost since that war was lost have been lost to those who sent US soldiers to Vietnam, not to the Vietnamese.
Christians in the US overwhelmingly supported the war precisely because they were convinced of its moral rightness. They believed Uncle Sam. Was Uncle Sam worthy of their trust?
Henry Kissinger, friend of every president from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama
My question: if Joshua was defeated twice because he didn’t consult the Lord, once by force and once by deceit, is it reasonable to ask if perhaps US Christians were defeated in the Vietnam conflict, once by the Vietnamese combatants and once by Uncle Sam’s deceit, because they never consulted the Lord before marching proudly off to battle? Put another way, when did US evangelicals consult the Lord before joining the US military and going off to Vietnam? I remember no such public consultation.
During the Vietnam War days we used to look back at the Nazis and pride ourselves that we weren’t like them. We wouldn’t get fooled like German Christians into serving a beast like Hitler. No, sir. But we should have been more humble. It wasn’t just the unthinking masses who were taken in. Even Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemoeller, men considered saints by many evangelicals today, originally supported Hitler. And today’s US evangelicals are putting themselves under the command of a man they voted against specifically because they consider him morally deficient. By what right do they look down on German Christians now?
The question needs to be asked: when did German Christians consult the Lord before throwing in their lot with Hitler? I’ve never heard of such a consultation taking place. And in the same way, US evangelicals followed the liberal Democrat Lyndon Johnson to war in Vietnam without consulting the Lord.
In 1920 conservative evangelical Christians followed the liberal Democrat Woodrow Wilson into alcohol prohibition. Did they consult the Lord before doing so? How did he respond? Or did they make the decision on autopilot like Joshua at the first battle of Ai? Was the rise of organized crime, smuggling, and bootlegging, which would have been impossible apart from prohibition, evidence of God’s blessing on prohibitionism? Or is it more likely that these things are, like the death of the thirty-six at Ai, evidence that prohibitionists had acted apart from the will of God?
Conservative evangelicals later got on the prohibitionist bandwagon again, this time with the liberal Democrat Franklin Roosevelt regarding prohibition of cannibinoids and opioids, even joining him in eschewing the Constitution, which had been amended to bring in alcohol prohibition but was now ignored to prohibit the threat du jour. Is the rise of deadly Mexican drug cartels during the prohibition years and their having to find other livelihoods in the face of pot legalization in the US a sign of God’s blessing on the War on Drugs, or evidence that prohibitionists were acting presumptuously all along? Again, when did US evangelicals consult God on the matter? How did he respond?
My main question, of course, is ultimately to today’s US evangelicals who have pledged their fealty to Barack Obama’s military and his various domestic armed bodies. Convinced that Osama bin Laden carried out 9/11 in cahoots with Saddam, a tyrant despised by his people who was hiding weapons of mass destruction ultimately aimed at our homeland, they proudly sent their children to Afghanistan and Iraq, only to find that Saddam had no WMDs, that his oppressed masses were willing to fight to defend him (or at least their homes) against “our heroes,” that (according to Uncle Sam, at least) Osama had lived for years in Pakistan under the nose of anyone with half a mind to turn Uncle Sam loose on him, and that Osama’s devotees have increased in number every day since the first US soldiers were deployed.
Like Israel’s battle against Ai and covenant with the Gibeonites, things didn’t go as planned. Could it be that they didn’t go as planned because the Lord’s support was assumed, but the Lord himself was never consulted?
What soul-searching did 9/11 call forth on the part of US evangelicals? In Billy Graham’s address to the nation of almost 1500 words the Thursday after 9/11, the word repent occurs all of once, here:
One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His Word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and we’re to turn to Him and He will bless us in a new way.
Far more typical of the sermon as a whole, however, is this:
We also know that God is going to give wisdom and courage and strength to the President and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory.
What kind of call to repentance is this to give to a nation that considers nothing more sacred than extramarital sex? Is this what the Bible means by “consulting the Lord”?
Is it really crazy to ask if in the over two hundred years of its existence our government—which killed thousands of Cherokee Indians on the Trail of Tears, killed hundreds of thousands of “its own citizens” to prevent them from seceding, killed thousands of Indians when stealing their land, killed hundreds of Hawai’ians and overthrew their government, killed thousands of Filipinos replacing the Spanish colonial government with the American “protectorate,” killed thousands of Koreans to establish a military presence and partition the country, and, as just mentioned, killed a million Vietnamese for no reason—would it really have been crazy to ask the Lord after days prayer and fasting if that government had ever done anything that would provoke just anger on the part of people in the Muslim world?
Would it have been crazy to ask if Uncle Sam—who planned at least one false-flag terrorist operation, who lied to his subjects about the sinking of the Lusitania to get the US into a spat between imperial powers in Europe, lied about the attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, knowingly deceived his citizens about the medical care it was providing, lied about the Kuwaiti babies being murdered in their incubators, lied about “no new taxes” and the New World Order, and lies unceasingly about his inflation of the currency—was really telling us the truth about 9/11 before encouraging our youth to become unequally yoked with unbelievers in the military—the marching cadence “Luke the Gook comes marching by, stick your bayonet in his eye!” comes to mind—and march off to war?
Instead, if my church is any example, evangelicals assume what they should be demanding that Uncle Sam prove: that soldiers who deploy really are defending us and our freedoms and not promoting the interests of those who are currently taking our money in taxes and using it to take our freedoms away. And following that assumption, they pray God’s blessing and protection on “our military” and refuse to even consider, let alone discuss, the possibility that that military is involved in at best an imperialist venture and at worst a cynical exercise in funneling tax money to armaments manufacturers who build weapons to fight a war that benefits them more from being fought endlessly than from being won.
Has anyone consulted the Lord on this issue? When? How did he respond?
It’s not enough to say that Islam is evil. Of course it’s evil. But how does the Bible tell us to deal with evil? “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Look at Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria today and tell me that evangelicals in the military are involved in overcoming evil with good.
On the basis of what specific counsel from the Lord are US Christians sending their children to kill instead of to evangelize the people of the Muslim Crescent? When did Jesus rescind the Great Commission and send his youth to the military recruiters?

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