In the news this week was the announcement that the US is increasing its weapons sales and military assistance in the Middle East. Egypt and Israel will be receiving more military aid and Saudi Arabia will be permitted to buy more weaponry. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "It's important that Saudi Arabia, which has been an ally of the United States for decades, be able to defend its interests in the region." The plan seems to be to restrain your enemies by arming your friends. I can't help but wonder what would Jesus do if he were Secretary of State?
As Secretary of State, Jesus might tell the Saudi leadership to "love their enemies" and to "turn the other cheek." Since having military equipment can encourage violence, he may have said "no" to future sales and asked the Saudis to get rid of the weapons they now have.
Jesus may have told them to look for ways to do good to those who oppose them. (There are Christian groups - like the Amish - who would agree with this view.)
On the other hand, Jesus may have agreed to the weapons sales. In fact, he may have encouraged the Saudi's to buy weapons, even if doing so meant their people had to do without other comforts.
The truth is that Jesus' teachings here are more complex than many suppose. After the Last Supper, Jesus told his disciples that they were going to have to be more careful when they traveled. While previously they had not worried about money or security, now they were to pack both money and a sword.
This is so important, that Jesus reiterated, if they did not have a sword, they were told to sell their coat and go buy one. "No need," the disciples said, we have two swords right here (Luke 22).
Who knew that Jesus' disciples were going around armed? And even more of a surprise, Jesus had not disarmed them. Rather, he appears to be encouraging the disciples to bear arms. (Now to be fair, some scholars suggest that Jesus was speaking symbolically here.)
Do we "turn the other cheek," or do we "buy a sword" (or "sell a sword" - as Condoleezza Rice has done). Since Jesus taught both, there is probably a time and place for both.
This is consistent to what the rest of the Bible teaches, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." The question becomes then, what is the most loving thing to do for the most people in this particular situation?
Arming a friend may be the most loving action for both friend and foe.
Take a look back in history. In September of 1939 Germany invaded Poland and started a war that lead to 55 million deaths, including 10 million Germans. If Poland - and the other neighbors around Germany - had been stronger militarily, World War II may have been avoided. The war led 10 million German deaths, countless German refuges and a division of the German soil that lasted 44 years.
The most loving thing that Poland could have done, for Poland and Germany, would have been to be strong enough to oppose the Nazis. Sell arms, or not to sell arms? What would Jesus do?
The most peace loving plan might well be to sell the arms to Saudis and otherwise provide military aid to the peaceful nations of the Middle East. In a fallen world, this may be the best plan - and the best way to prevent a World War III.