“Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man” ( from Bishops at the second Vatican Council). This is saying that for a Christian nuclear war which indiscriminately destroys all in its path, is unthinkable and cannot be justified. Defending ones country does not justify immoral means, for example weapons which kill and threaten the world. Given this, could a Christian ever think that nuclear war is right?
No Christian would argue for nuclear war, but some Christians do agree to possessing nuclear weapons, as defence or as a deterrence but hope never actually to use them. Nuclear arms provide people with a false sense of security: you would have means of defence, but people become more insecure because of having them. This is because it makes people feel that because they have weapons they are safe which is not true, but also it makes people feel that they will be attacked which causes a great deal of anxiety.
Nuclear arms are a crime against the poor as well, the money that could be saving lives in third world countries, going towards medicine and hospitals, is spent on weaponry. This use of nuclear arms is encouraging poorer countries to spend their little money on weapons, creating huge debt. These third war countries need every penny they can get, and should not be spending their money on weapons, for defence! “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes….. ” (Matthew 25:35-36).
We should be following Jesus’ example by helping out the poor who need food, water, clothes, not leading them into war where they are either at risk of loosing their lives or wasting valuable money on weapons. Also young boys are being trained to kill and the majority of these already poor countries economy is being focused on military. The major arms industries are in the developed world, providing employment there and money earned from abroad, mainly from third world countries financed by borrowing money. Most war now happens in the developing third world.
In the “Just War Theory” created by Thomas Aquinas, it says that war should be fought for peace. With nuclear war, at the end of a bombing there may not even be a world left, because the effects are so extreme. For example, in Hiroshima the nuclear war has left damaging after effects which last from generation to generation. Children are still being born with cancer and deformities and it has left damaging effects in the atmosphere. Another of the just war theories says that war has to be proportional, using nuclear arms and blasting the world into eternity is not in proportion to establishing peace.
Some Christians who argue against nuclear war have not thought how the world get rid of all nuclear weapons for ever, because the technology remains, they can still be built again even if all the known weapons are removed. There are many different Christian responses, here is a Catholic and a Church of England response. A Catholic response to nuclear war is multilateral disarmament, and Pope John XXIII in a letter called ‘Peace on Earth’ called for everyone who possesses nuclear weapons to disarm and remove them.
A Church of England response is unilateral disarmament, where one country disarms it’s nuclear weapons, while trying to encourage other countries to follow their example. Their report was called ‘ The Church and the Bomb’. However this created a fear that other countries with more advanced weaponry would put the country in danger. This report’s recommendation was rejected by the General synod, which is the Church of England’s ruling body, who insisted that Christian Churches should agree that nuclear war is unthinkable but that it was either all of the countries disarming its weapons or none.
In Genesis we are called to be “stewards of the world”, and so have to look after the world, not destroy it and so we are told in the Bible that we should not be fighting a nuclear war that would destroy the world. Also, one of the Ten Commandments is ” thou shalt not kill” and a nuclear war will undoubtedly end up with many deaths. In conclusion, nuclear war causes immense suffering, deaths and destruction of the environment, it encourages hatred and greed and it is unjust. However will we ever be able to rid the world of nuclear arms now that the advanced technology is here?
Will fear of attack by stronger forces mean a reluctance to disarm? How will the developed world respond to the events of 9-11 and the fear that even small organisations such as terrorist organisations are now developing nuclear weapons. So as Christians what is our responsibility? The idea of “just war” could be supported, as this forbids nuclear war. But maybe most importantly, Christ’s great commandment at the last supper, that we “should love each other as He loved us “, which provides a way of relating to each other that if really understood, provides a way of defeating war?