War is Anti-Christian because it is Immoral
By the Late HERBERT H. BOOTH.
As a Christian, you know, of course, that morality is one thing and Christianity is another, that there is an important distinction between them. Morality is not always associated with religion, because there are some religions which, in their ideals and practices are exceedingly immoral. But it is possible to be an ideal man from the standpoint of morality, and yet know nothing of the saving power of Christ in the heart. It is true, therefore, that you may have certain kinds of religion without morality, and you can have morality without Christianity, but it is equally true that you cannot have Christianity without morality. Everything, therefore, that is immoral is essentially unchristian.
War is immoral, therefore it is unchristian.
Any system, any avocation, any amusement, any profession which invites or encourages or necessitates wrong-doing cannot be Christian.
War does all this, therefore it is unchristian.
Any agency, call it what you may-for whatever purpose it operates-which compels men and women to cross the barriers established by God, the conscience, the Bible, as the boundary lines between what is right and what is wrong, is immoral and is therefore unchristian. Any profession which obliterates the lines of demarcation between what is honourable and what is dishonourable; what is just and what is unjust; what is merciful and what is cruel; what is conducive to health and what is productive of disease; what is pure and what is impure; what is helpful to life and what is destructive to life. Any pursuit that does all this is immoral, and must therefore be unchristian. War does all these things, therefore war is immoral and unchristian.
Any profession which throws a cloak of respectability over what is disreputable; which gives sanction to what, under the circumstances of well-ordered society would be ostracised as contraventions of well-established law; which imparts an eclat of heroism to deeds which, when judged by the standards of justice would be regarded as outrageous crimes; which offers rewards for accomplishments of a nature which would bring an ordinary citizen to judgment, to gaol or to death-any profession of this kind is immoral in the highest and most dangerous degree.
The profession of war does all this, therefore war is immoral and unchristian.
Let us see if we can prove it.
IN THE FIRST PLACE, THEN, I CHARGE IT AGAINST WAR THAT ITS RULES AND STANDARDS LEGALISE AND PROFESSIONALISE EVIL.
The very standards of this system are destructive of high ideals. Hence it must demoralise and deteriorate any Christian having anything to do with it. No profession can be better than its doctrines. It is in the truest sense what it teaches. Its ethics are its essence. The truth about it is just what its tactics display. If it is a system of lies, it is a lying thing. If it is a vocation of refined deception, it is a deceitful thing. If it is a calling which teaches how to spread destruction most efficiently, it is a destructive thing. If it is a science which produces the cruellest, and most irresistible instruments for smashing men's bodies or taking their lives, then it is a cruel and murderous thing.
Lies, deceit, destruction, cruelty, murder-these are not the standards of morality. How, then, can they be the standards of Christianity and how can a Christian extol himself beneath them?
A BRITISH FIELD MARSHAL ON THE WITNESS STAND.
Let us call one of the most respected and successful soldiers of modern times to the witness stand and hear what he has to say about the standards of his profession. It is not necessary to listen to his voice, which is now silenced in death, because we have his words in writing. To have such documentary evidence is an advantage as all lawyers will admit, because what is written cannot be wrested from its obvious meaning, nor can it be refuted. Let us then read from one or two of the editions of a handy but very crowded and comprehensive little book, called "The Soldier's Pocket Book for Field Service," by Field Marshal Viscount Wolseley. Viscount Wolseley was the soldier's idol. His pocket book became the constant companion of all who desired to excel in the service. Its statements have never been challenged, though they have been supplemented by others in books of the same kind.
One of the first assertions which attracts our attention from the pen of this illustrious advocate of war, who, I believe, was a much esteemed member of the Established Church of England, is on page 169, and reads as follows:-
"As a nation we are bred up to feel its disgrace ever to succeed by falsehood. The word spy conveys something as repulsive as slave; we will keep hammering along with the conviction that 'honesty is the best policy.' These pretty little sentences do well for a child's copybook, but the man who acts on them in war had better sheathe his sword forever." Since, then, the principles of honesty are vital to Christianity and since Viscount Wolseley says: "The man who acts on them in war had better sheathe his sword forever," you cannot be a Christian and a soldier at the same time-'put up the sword.'
DEVILISH DOUBLE DEALING.
So far then, Viscount Wolseley's testimony is most helpful to our case. Let us continue the examination:-
"Spies are to be found in every class of society, and gold, that mighty lever of men, is powerful enough to unlock secrets that would otherwise remain unknown at the moment. An English General must make up his mind to obtain information as he can, leaving no stone unturned in order to do so." The inference would seem to be that a General is to use British gold without stint to bribe men to LIE and to DECEIVE in order to get information about the enemy. But the most important piece of the Christian's armor, that without which all other parts would be rendered useless, is "the girdle of truth." It is quite evident, therefore, according to Viscount Wolseley, that this "armour of God" is no suitable equipment for the soldier. But let us read on:-
"It is important that spies should be unknown to each other. Care should be taken to make each believe that he is the only one employed. Some serve for patriotism, others for money, some receive pay from both sides; if such a one can be depended upon he is invaluable."
Think of it! A double-dyed traitor actually taking pay from the enemy while posing as their agent, giving them false information and all the time using the confidence thus obtained to get facts for the use of his real masters in the opposing camp! When a field marshal waves his staff approvingly over the head of an expert deceiver of this kind and calls him "invaluable," one feels justified in concluding that the profession which sets so high an estimate on the services of such a scoundrel must be a pretty low-down affair. Perhaps this esteemed military authority forgot those words of the Lord by the pen of the Psalmist, "He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house; he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight," and, probably, overlooked one of the last solemn sayings of the Bible: "All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone."
Out of the mouth of one of the greatest soldiers of modern times we judge war. Viscount Wolseley's book is crowded with careful, minute instructions, urgent incentives to acts, which are against the laws of God and the acknowledged safeguards of society.
SYSTEMATISED LAWLESSNESS. It is not the only book of the kind. There are others. Study them as I have, and you will discover that these codes of military rule and procedure set their seal of approval to just about everything the civil law under which their authors were born and live, condemn as viciously immoral. They throw a gloss, which they call "heroism," over conduct which, when judged by the Bible and at the bar of conscience, is cruel and villainous. Their pages are crowded with sickening and dehumanising instructions. They explain the exact ranges, the precise elevation, the proper speed which when shooting, will accomplish the most slaughter. "Aim low and shoot slow," is one of the dictums. They explain the bloody-thrust of the bayonet, "first forward, then upward." "The points at which the attack should be directed," they tell us, "are, in order of their importance, stomach, chest, head, neck and limbs." They tell us the bayonet is best used with a "ringing cheer" and in the dark, where men cannot be unnerved or their mercy appealed to by the pitiful anguish of those whose lungs or bowels are pierced. They show the best way to burn bridges, homes and villages along lines of retreat. They give careful advice about dead-houses, urging that they should be "in a retired spot so that funerals can take place without attracting attention," and the men left behind may not be too constantly reminded of the loss of their comrades. They explain how to pursue a fleeing and panic-stricken foe so as to "hammer him with guns, charge him with cavalry; and keep pushing him and hitting him from morning until night," and they show how if the flying enemy is "shattered" the troopers may find it safe to dismount and resort to "cold steel."
All I can say is this: If you want to know how a dirty, sneaking, slimy, murderous, treacherous, lying, spying, merciless set of practices can get themselves hidden aAvay under the military glory which goes with the razzle-dazzle of plumed helmets, gold buttons and spurred heels, then read the instructions to soldiers and the "tactics of war" written by these "army experts." Their utterances tally to a nicety with the expressions of another great general when he said "war is hell." It is more than hell, it is everything that is hellish. It is victory by villainy. Mind I do not dispute that the governments of ungodly nations have a right to resort to it. Since they reject the Gospel and teachings of Jesus, it is only logical they should do so; but the Christian does not employ hellish methods for getting people into heaven.
-"Saint and Sword."