Peace and Sword: Orthodox View
Throughout its history, humanity is looking for peace, but the war remains one of the most pressing and, alas, ineradicable problems, which it turns out today is as difficult as it was thousands of years ago. This, unfortunately, is natural, since the phenomenon of war lies at the very foundation of human history - the fall of man, distorting his nature and the subsequent murder of Abel Cain. Therefore, simultaneously with the development of society, technical means of warfare are developing, and wars themselves are becoming more bloody and cruel. In this situation, the question arises: Is war surmountable for humanity?
Tower of Babel
Non-Christian thought, despite constant setbacks throughout the whole history of resolving this issue, nevertheless answers it, as a rule, in a positive way. It offers various options for achieving peace, of which the most impressive is the model of a single world state. There is no one here and no one will fight, and any conflicts can be easily eliminated by the forces of insignificant police formations.
The logic of this option is captivating, and it is becoming more and more tangible in the life of the modern world. However, many do not even suggest what may actually come from this idea, although nowadays it is not so difficult to see that the new Tower of Babel is being built. Such a state will be absolutely slave-owning. To be convinced of this, it is enough to pay attention to how today the concentration of the power of the narrowest circle of people takes place right in front of the world. In whose hands are the media with which the necessary ideology is ensured, the atmosphere of social life, in whose hands are the banks on which the entire economic life is built — that and the authorities. In turn, the already narrow circle of rulers is becoming narrower in order to one day be crowned with a single leader.
Thus, only now we are beginning to really represent what the apostle Paul spoke about two thousand years ago, declaring a "man of sin", under whose authority all the peoples of the world will end up and peace will come, the worst of any war.
In this regard, it is interesting to draw attention to another process occurring in the world.Since the end of the 18th century, and especially in the 20th century, there has been a deliberate discredit of patriotism, the erosion of the foundations of traditional religion, the unceasing condemnation of any war, regardless of what caused it and what it is. Convicted of those who perform military service. This destruction of love for the motherland, for the Church, the idea of sacrifice in the name of his people, the destruction of the idea of a just, holy war prepares the ground for creating a single faith, one religion, one culture, one world state with a faceless mass of slaves and sovereigns of gods.
Wrath and do not sin ... (PS. 4,5)
Is there a criterion, in this case a Christian one, by which one could judge when the war is fair and when not? And can a war be fair at all? To answer this question, you first need to find out what makes the killing evil. Obviously, not in itself is death. Murder becomes evil only when it is committed out of hatred for man. Vladimir Solovyov said this well: “When killing, evil is not in the physical fact of deprivation of life, but in the moral reason for this fact — in the evil will of the murderer.”Therefore, to be killed, as well as to die from cholera, is not evil, because there is no morally evil act of will. But at the same time, malice cannot be confused with anger, for there is also righteous anger. Recall, at least, how Christ Himself, having entered the temple and seeing the trade there, made a whip and began to drive them out. And this is not an exceptional fact in the earthly life of the Lord. Evangelicals write about Christ: "And he looked at them with anger ..." He himself says angry words to the Jews: "Snakes, creatures of vipers, painted coffins, seemingly holy on the outside, and filled with all kinds of abominations inside ..."
We can give another example from the Sacred History, when soldiers came to St. John the Baptist and asked: "What should we do?" He replied: "Do not hurt anyone and be content with your salary." Of course, Leo Tolstoy could not accept such an answer, because the Baptist did not say to the soldiers: "Drop your weapon, stop fighting and shed human blood." In addition, we all know that many Christians in the first centuries remained warriors and even were warlords. They considered morally justified war, when it was necessary to resist the attacking enemy by force.Therefore, in the Church among the saints there were always a large number of soldiers. Take, for example, our Russian sacred calendar: there is approximately one half of the men among the men of all the ranks, from simple monks to bishops, and the other half are warriors. What is this - an accident? The question, I think, is rhetorical. No wonder the most glorious people in the history of Russia and in the history of other states have always been the military, that is, those who first gave their lives for the people and the Fatherland.
Murder ... for love
And yet - by what criterion can we evaluate this or that war?
First we give an interesting story from the "Three Conversations" by V. S. Solovyov. In the first conversation, there is a conversation in which the general tells the following case: "During the Caucasian campaign, when there was a war with the Turks in connection with Armenia, we slowly moved after the enemy, and once a huge Armenian village opened before us. We saw a terrible thing there: not only a completely burnt village, but carts to which the Armenians were tied, who did not manage to escape, but divorced bonfires under the carts — they were sadistically killed, but one picture struck everyone to the depths of their souls. to so that she could not turn her head. She was dead, she had no wounds, only her face was distorted.What happened? Literally, a pole was fastened in front of her, on which a naked baby was tied, apparently, her son, all blackened and with rolling eyes, and a grate with extinct coals lying around. It's clear what the monsters did.
Suddenly an Armenian got out of some dry well. Shouting that the Turks went to the nearby village. "How many are there?" - I ask. - "Forty thousand". And we had about five hundred people and six guns.
Nevertheless, we asked a shortcut, ”the general continued,“ and along this path, without reasoning, moved on. It turned out that our detachment came out just at the time when the Turks (there were about four thousand of them) were entering another Armenian village. Then a small detachment of Cossacks galloped toward them, while our main unit remained in ambush with disguised guns. The Turks, noticing the Cossacks, without hesitation, pursued them. We, having let them in, opened fire at the infidels with canister literally at close range, so we managed to make only two volleys. If the Turks were bolder and continued the offensive, then we would be in trouble. But they were frightened and began to retreat. Here we still made a volley with a canister and then everyone rushed at them.The Turks threw weapons, asked for mercy, but we chopped them all up, left no one behind. And now, gentlemen, I tell you: I do not have any good deeds, but until now, when I remember this incident, I have in my heart the bright Resurrection of Christ. I consider the only thing in my life to be a holy, truly good deed, which I then did! "
Obviously, it was a real feat, as the Russians were going to die. After all, they thought that there were forty thousand Turks there, and there were only about five hundred of them themselves. But, on the other hand, the Russians killed all the Turks, and no one was spared. Evil committed? Not! They acted not from the desire for evil, but from a deep sense of righteous anger, which is one of the essential characteristics of true love. The Christian assessment of the war remains the same here: murder is a crime when it is committed out of malice, envy, self-interest. In this case, the Russians killed, fighting and sacrificing their lives for the truth, for the truth that they saw, which they felt in their souls and which every person feels and understands.
Thus it turns out that from a Christian point of view, war can be sacred and military service is sacred when it punishes villains and rapists.
Another example of two different wars.What happened to the territory along which the "enlightened", "cultural" soldiers of the French army passed during the Patriotic War of 1812? Fires, death and destruction. And how was the Russian Orthodox army from Moscow to Paris? - As pure, innocent children: no atrocities, violence, harassment. War, therefore, must be judged not by the very fact of its existence, but by its causes, the main driving forces, its purpose and spirit. For example, it is enough to see what the army is doing with the civilians of the enemy in order to see what the war is like. Christianity calls: "Everything must be done out of love for a person. And if there is no other way to stop the evil of violence, as soon as with the power of a weapon, then do not dare touch those who are not the bearer of evil."
So, by what criterion can we evaluate when the sword is righteous and when it is evil and devilish? Christianity offers a dual criterion. The first is the absence of malice, which does not at all imply the absence of righteous anger, because, as we have seen, there is a very big difference between anger and righteous anger. The second condition, or rather the other side of the same principle, is love, which in social terms is expressed, first of all, in justice and selflessness.The Solovyev general said honestly about himself that he was not a holy man, but when he saw the abomination of violence, he was seized with righteous, holy wrath. And what are the sources of such anger? He is always associated with love for the victim, for the offended, for those suffering from evil power. Therefore, from a Christian point of view, the principle of using a sword is to help even those who are exposed to unjust violence risk their lives. This principle of sacrificial love for truth, truth, and holiness in our inter-human relations is fundamental to the Christian assessment of any military action.
But they filed a note asking: “How can you say that love is the main principle of a just, even holy war, if in the Bible we find God's command to Jews after their forty-year journey through the Arabian desert to go and destroy the original peoples of Palestine? And even completely destroy the old ones , women and children, leaving no one and nothing alive? " This is a difficult question. But I think the answer is that. If it is indisputable that God could find other means to destroy these nations for their lawlessness, for example, disease, civil strife, earthquakes, etc., and here the Jewish people are sent for this purpose, then the reason is apparently the following.It is indisputable that not every citizen is capable of carrying out a legal death sentence to a criminal. For this, people are elected with appropriate mental properties. So it is here: God is not an angel, not a pestilence, not a plague, but destroys nations with the hands of the Jews with the obvious goal to show them the sad reality of their spiritual state in which they were in spite of all the wonders during the forty years of wandering in the desert. By this, God would say to Israel: “Don't you really understand why you were chosen to do this terrible thing? Think and repent.” Such an appeal of God to the Jews passes through the entire Old Testament, and then the New, which contains the harshest denunciations of their cruelty, infidelity, etc. But the same appeal of God takes place to all other nations of the world when they find themselves in position and condition.
Is man the measure of all things?
What concept of the world does Christianity offer? It affirms a thought unprecedented in a religious environment, which until now has been rejected by non-Christian consciousness strongly and persistently. It lies in the fact that the state in which one is born, grows, develops, lives, acts and dies, in its very essence is abnormal, painful.
In Christian theology, two types of knowledge are distinguished: natural and supernatural. The first means nothing more than the idea of God, man and the world, which is composed of a person from the direct knowledge of the world and himself. It is characterized by the fact that, in the long run, all ideas even about the transcendental world it endows with earthly properties, its human traits.
It is no coincidence that the pagan gods themselves are so anthropomorphic. For without knowledge from God, man is the whole criterion. He is the norm. He has no other criterion and cannot have it! This view was very well expressed by one of the Greek thinkers, the great sophist Protagoras, when he said: "Man is the measure of all things." Well, great! And it seems there is nothing to argue, because you can't really jump over your head.
However, there is another cognition. Supernatural revelation differs from natural in that it gives a person knowledge that we cannot find here on earth. So, we nowhere, except for Christianity, meet the difficult and often protesting thought that our so-called natural nature is damaged, abnormal, although there is enough evidence of this Christian truth.Both human history and personal life directly testify to deeply unreasonable human activity. We ultimately do not the good, the sacred, and the true that we would like, what we dreamed of and what we were striving for, but for the most part just the opposite. Also, our abnormality is found in the feelings, desires, passions that arise with us, at first glance, for no reason at all. For example, the standard situation. Absolutely one man disliked the other. Why? What's the matter? Where does hate come from? For a superficial glance, these questions are unsolvable.
The priests say that in their practice there are such cases when a person comes and complains that he feels a deep dissatisfaction with life. They begin to ask him:
- Do you have family or financial difficulties?
- No, I'm fine.
- Health, maybe not in order?
- No, it's ok.
- So what's the deal?
- I do not know.
An excellent illustration of this phenomenon is provided by statistical data in the West, where, it turns out, more than half of the population experiences a deep dissatisfaction with life, anguish.Therefore, there are significantly more visits to psychiatrists than to other doctors. All these examples clearly indicate that inside a person there is something that he doesn’t even know about. In theology, this X is called original sin. This is not a personal sin, this is not an act of the will, no. This is the hereditary distraction of human nature, transmitted from generation to generation. This original sin largely determines our personal sins, which, in turn, give rise to social and interstate problems.
Conquer sin in yourself
But what is sin? Sin is a violation of objectively existing spiritual laws. As a violation of physical laws leads to sad consequences, and a violation of spiritual laws leads to similar results.
For example, medicine has long proved that everything that is called a sin in Christianity affects our psyche, nerves, and body in the most pernicious way. The church constantly reminds that spiritual processes, both positive and negative, taking place in the soul, affect the whole person, his mood, his relationships with others, his health.They also affect the health of society as a whole.
Therefore, Christianity asserts that as long as people do not learn to fight with their passions, that is, until evil is defeated inside a person, it cannot be defeated outside, because the spirit creates forms for itself. The commandments of Christ are not an obstacle to free life, but the objective laws of human existence, which, like the laws of the physical world, must be followed in order to be happy and healthy and to live in peace and not in war. Christianity takes nothing away from man. Paraphrasing Pascal's thought, one can say: Christianity, without depriving a person of anything vital, at the same time gives him the opportunity, even in the most difficult conditions of this life, to have what is called happiness.
In this connection, the example of the Optina elder Nikon (Belyaev) is very indicative. Being arrested, imprisoned in a concentration camp with a punker, where he fell ill with tuberculosis, in one of his deathbed letters he utters startling words: "There is no limit to my happiness! Finally, I understood what the Kingdom of God is inside you." That is, here on earth, even in the most terrible conditions, Christianity enables a person to find what he so often and fruitlessly seeks outside himself - happiness.
After all, when they say "the kingdom of God is inside you," they do not speak about wealth or glory, which are fleeting and inevitably taken away by death, but about the happiness that is in the soul of man and his eternal possession. Christianity says that without a change in the spiritual life of every single person, there can be no positive solution to any vital problems, including the problems of war.
Irini and Shalom
There are two concepts of the world that are fundamentally different from each other. In the Gospel, Christ says: "I give My peace to you." This world in the Greek language is expressed by the term "Irini", and means s-peace-seenie, peace of the soul that has achieved victory over its passions, over its egoism, and as a result of this - love for all.
Another understanding of the world is expressed by the Hebrew word "Shalom" and means the absence of war, a prosperous life, and material prosperity. “Shalom” is one of the central concepts in the Old Testament, and “irini” is in the New.
It is obvious that a person who has "Irini" becomes incapable of enmity with other people. In other words, “Irini” contains “shalom” and always gives birth to it, since people with the world-Irini cannot cause any evil to others.From here we see that Christianity looks to the very root of human problems, pointing to the source from which the anomalies of our life, in particular war, flow. The acquisition of "Irini" immediately, as they say, kills two birds with one stone: it, firstly, transforms the person himself, and secondly, creates a solid foundation for a lasting, fair peace between people, transforming the world around us.
To illustrate, let us turn to the well-known example from the Gospel, which causes many bewilderment and questions. Christ said: "They struck you on one cheek - turn the other one over." What is the Lord saying here?
The most elementary, so to speak, childish consciousness means by this the direct rule of life - they gave you one cheek - you give it to the other.
But in the Gospel, of course, we are not talking about a simple fact, but about the principle of relationships between people. Christ himself at the trial who struck Him did not turn the other cheek, but replied: "Why are you beating Me?" The Lord teaches how to solve one of the most difficult and most vital problems of life, how to relieve the tension and hostility that often arise between people. By the commandment about the cheek, Christ calls the disputants and the warring to take a step towards each other.Who will do it first? Naturally, one who is more humble, spiritually superior and more generous, who can condescend to the weakness of another.
In the case of “shalome” without “irini”, all human passions live and demand their satisfaction, receiving which they develop even more. In this lies the deepest mistake of all those who are eager for fruits, but careless about the roots. Man, giving food to his passions, fundamentally destroys the very foundation of human relationships. Passions are insatiable and, as they develop, they inevitably provoke invasive instincts. Therefore, the Church directs the thought of a person to his soul, calling out: “Man, at last, take care of yourself! And then you will do neither evil nor violence. "