WAR AND HUMAN LIFE

A Christian man who fights against the enemy in war situations may have difficulty at the time of his actions with the thought of human life as a supreme value, and the man created in the divine image. What advice does the Church give on how to treat the enemy?

The social conception of the Russian Church mentions that in the church iconography St. George is depicted with a white horse having under the hooves defeated a black dragon. This contrast and distinction of the colors transmit the symbolism that the evil and the struggle against it should be quite distinguished since it is important to fight against sin and not to communicate with it. The heart of a person should not be under the power of negative feelings and under the desire to humiliate or destroy someone.

By the observation of the moral state and conduct of warriors is possible to see if the war is a feat or robbery. For the Scriptural reasoning of this fact, the social conception of the Russian Orthodox Church quotes from the book of Sirach: “Do not rejoice over a man’s death, even if he was the most hostile to you. Remember that we are all going to die” (8:8). However, these words of the book of Sirach do not exist in other Bible translations as, for example, in the King James Version or the Armenian Bible. But the Bible says: “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see [it,] and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him” (24: 17-18).

In defeating the enemy in the war, one should rejoice not for the destruction of a man and human life but for the victory of good and justice. There is a difference between the intention and inner attitude by which the human faith, the value system, the tendency to the evil or to the good is expressed.

With the zeal for the Scriptures, the Jews consider as very important the above-mentioned words of Proverbs. Although there are many victories in Jewish history, the Jews have no celebration of victory. The Passover is, for example, a feast of exit and freedom from Egyptian bondage, and not the feast of the Israeli victory over the Egyptians.

Moreover, by raising a cup of wine on the Passover night and rejoicing at getting rid of slavery, the Jews, however, spill ten drops in remembrance of their enslavers, of the ten plagues that harmed the Egyptians (Exodus 7: 14 – 11:10). By doing so, the Jews also express regret over the death of the Egyptians who persecuted them and drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.

According to the Jewish Talmud, which is the voluminous collection of legal and religious-moral clauses, when the Egyptians, who were pursuing the Jews, drowned in the Red Sea, the angels wanted to sing a praise song dedicated to the Creator’s justice. But God said to them: “My creatures are drowned in the sea, and you want to sing praises”? These words condemn those who rejoice over the destruction of the enemy.

And the attitude of Christians towards the wounded and captives of the adversary is based on the teachings of the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Proverbs, and the apostle Paul’s words: “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Proverbs 25: 21-22, Romans 12: 20-21).