Why is war bad? Not, according to Augustine, because it involves people dying: they'd die anyway, so suck it up and stop being so chicken. No, "the real evils in war are violence, revengeful cruelty, fierce and implacable enmity, wild resistance, and the lust of power”, and often the reason people go to war in the first place is precisely to stop other people who are being cruel, violent, and lusting after power (a variation on the argument that it was ok to go to war with Germany/Iraq because Hitler/Saddam were such baddies). That's why, when Jesus and John the Baptist met soldiers, they didn't tell them to give up their soldiering: they recognised that what they were doing was lawful and meant to defend public safety. What really matters, according to Augustine, are the reasons people have for going to war. It's all about the heart-attitude, although because leaders only have power if God allows it, it's even ok to go to war for an ungodly king (and presumably for one whose heart attitude was less-than-perfect): he wouldn't still be king if his ungodliness was if God wasn't ok with him being king, he wouldn't still be wearing the crown that allows him to despatch soldiers. When Jesus tells us to 'turn the other cheek' he's talking about an inward disposition, not bodily actions. Even though the kingdom of God is not of this world, when Jesus-loving armies go to war and kick pagan ass, it totally resounds to the glory of God.
Task for you, dear readers: can you spot the holes in these arguments?
Photo credit: Bongo Mongo