We need not look too far back in history to see some of the truth of this: the Armenian Genocide, the Iran-Iraq War, the perennial wars between modern Israel and her Arab-Muslim neighbors, and of course the Holocaust.
But then, there are the recent wars and massacres which were not religious, per se: World War I, Japan’s crimes in World War II, Holodomor and Stalin’s other purges, Mao, Pol Pot, and the Rwandan genocide. (One might label the forgoing as tribal wars.)
From a Christian perspective, however, I ask this question: why wouldn’t most wars be religious in nature? Since the successful temptation of Adam by the Enemy, that Enemy has been trying to con as many of us as possible in as many areas as possible, the primary one being the nature of God and the nature of our relationship with Him.
And, if we human beings are still prone to being conned, it seems to me that the con would be in this manner: adapting a religion or world-view that puts self before anything and anyone, including God. Or, overtly, considering oneself to be God. I’m not only referring to religions outside of Judaism and Christianity, but sects “within the fold,” such as Liberation Theologies and Prosperity Doctrines. I-deologies.
Our Enemy got thrown out of Heaven due to his pride and it seems to me that pride is the primary lure he uses to blind us to the true nature of God and, therefore, blind us to our own sinful nature. After all, it’s easy to love ourselves, but it takes a lot more work to “love God and love our neighbor as ourselves.”
So, when self is primary—when self is worshiped–it’s a lot easier to view others as secondary or of no account whatsoever. If that’s so, then we might be able to say that all wars are religious in nature, even when one side has an objectively righteous grievance. That’s not to say that war is wrong; it is a byproduct of this world since the Fall and this world belongs to the Enemy. This means that some individual or group somewhere is always on offense in the name of “god” or on defense against the former.
It’s always about God—or about god, depending on which one you’re serving.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!