Christians generally believe that war is wrong and that God wants everyone to live in peace. However, most Christians also believe that war is sometimes necessary in order to overcome the evil; but it is not as bad as whatever might happen if the enemy were allowed to win. The teaching of the Bible contains different views about whether or not war is right, and Christians have to try to decide which view they think is the right one in their own situation. Sometimes it can seem that all kinds of fighting are wrong, but at other times it seems necessary to defend the weak and resist evil.
In order to determine whether war is a diplomatic solution or not, a Christian monk called Thomas Aquinas decided that there should be guidelines for people to follow. The guidelines he made have become known as the ‘Just War Theory’. According to Aquinas, a war is only ‘just’ or ‘fair’ if it meets the following conditions:
* The war must be carried out by a proper authority such as the government or the ruler, and not by independent groups.
* The reason for war must be just. It should not be for greed or revenge, but a genuine attempt to make the world a better place.
* The cause of the war must be to try and establish good or correct evil.
* The war must be a last resort.
* The force used in the war should not be over the top and directed at military people instead of civilians.
Christians today still use these guidelines when deciding whether to support their country’s decision. Many Christians believe that it is acceptable to go war as long as the criteria of the ‘Just War theory’ are met.
However some people are firmly opposed to any form of warfare in any circumstances. These people are called conscientious objectors because their conscience tells them to object to war. During a war, these people refuse to fight as soldiers or work in the production of arms, but instead aim to promote peace in other ways such as nursing. The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quaker movement, holds this view. Quakers strongly believe war is never acceptable under any conditions.
I believe that war should try to be avoided at all costs. However if all the ‘Just War Theory’ criteria are met, and war is absolutely necessary, it must be accepted. Otherwise, some people would go to war and destroy other people who refused to defend themselves in war.
(c) Capital punishment is unacceptable in 21st Century Europe
Most Christians believe that capital punishment is unacceptable in 21st Century Europe. This is because no religion sees it as acceptable to one take away someone’s life. This is because they believe in the sanctity of life.
There are also many other arguments against capital punishment such as the miscarriage of justice. This means an innocent person may put to death and this has happened before. There are also alternative ways of making someone repay the debt that are much more useful. For example, we could give them unlimited community service. These prisoners can be used as a resource. However most Christians believe should not use the death penalty because Christianity teaches forgiveness and therefore we should try to reform the criminal instead of punishing this. If we kill the criminals, they do not get a chance to learn their lessons. Most murderers also are also not likely to kill again as 80% of killers and victims know each other.
These Christians are also aware of the fact that killing people who have died for their political beliefs are turned into martyrs. This can result in more deaths as the martyr may have many dedicated followers. We also have to find someone to carry out the execution and this cause psychological damage to these people. Finally, there is not always a huge amount resolved from executing someone. The victim’s family may not actually feel better as a result of the death penalty.
Other Christians are so appalled by some crimes committed that they feel capital punishment can be accepted in the 21st Century in Europe. This is because they feel the only punishment worthy for taking someone’s life, is to take the criminal’s life. This is the theory: ‘a life for a life’. These people also believe that many murderers should not be given the chance to be reformed or rehabilitated as it is a privilege they do not deserve.
These Christians may also feel that putting someone in prison for the rest of their life is crueler than executing them. The death penalty is also a cheaper solution. Also, if we have the death penalty in our society, this will act as the ultimate deterrent and a decent form of protection of the society against dangerous criminals. This is the opinion of most societies, as almost every ancient society practises the death penalty.
I believe that we should have the death penalty today. However I think that it should very rarely be used and when the decision is made, we should be 100% sure that the criminal is guilty of the crimes they have been accused of.