In the fall of 2001, after I met with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, I reported to you how much the secretary’s understanding of just war impressed me. Every attempt was being made, I was convinced, to fight a just war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The week before Christmas, I was called back to the Pentagon. The stakes just got higher, with war imminent in Iraq.
As I look forward to 2003, that phrase is the one I’d use to describe what I see. The world is a dangerous place, and now the stakes are higher. Let me give you three examples.
Iraq and international terrorism present a far more complex set of problems and risks than Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein has stockpiled chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Terrorists want such weapons and intend to use them. President Bush has threatened a nuclear response if the Iraqis use weapons of mass destruction. Would we make good on that threat? What secondary effects would that have on innocent civilians? These are excruciatingly difficult questions that I’ll be talking about in the days ahead.
The stakes are higher elsewhere as well. AIDS continues to ravage Africa. Of the 34 million cases worldwide, 24.5 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa. More than 19 million have died, and that has left economic devastation and more than 13 million AIDS orphans. AIDS cases are now increasing in China, India, and the former Soviet Union. Their populations — their economies — could be devastated. And I don’t need to remind you these are nuclear powers.
At home, this January marks the thirtieth anniversary of ROE V. WADE, the dreadful Supreme Court decision that found a “right to privacy” in the Constitution and used that right to legalize abortion-on-demand. Human dignity was dealt a horrendous blow.
Today, however, the stakes are higher. Cloning and the biotech agenda are even worse news for human dignity than abortion. Not only are we taking upon ourselves the god-like prerogative of ending human life as we choose, we are attempting to appropriate the prerogative of making human life as we choose. And now, the Raelians, a pro-cloning religious group, claim that a cloned child has been born.
As Bill Kristol and Eric Cohen of THE WEEKLY STANDARD wrote, “Our elected leaders need to intervene — now, not later — by enacting at least a moratorium on such morally questionable experiments.” The stakes are so high that, from my point of view, a total ban on cloning should be the first priority of the 108th Congress.
All of this makes many Christians want to simply build the church walls even higher, dig the moats deeper, and pull up the drawbridges. This is the least helpful — and least biblical — of all responses. We are called to be in the world, just as Jesus was.
This is our moment to offer Christian hope. On the cross, Jesus won our victory two thousand years ago. And He told us, “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you” — not to hide, but to engage the world.
The stakes have gotten higher, but this is our appointed moment. God calls us into 2003 to speak for peace in a world of terrorism and war, to minister to the sick in a world of AIDS, and to stand for the dignity of all human beings in a dehumanizing culture.
For further information:
BreakPoint Commentary No. 020920, “A Matter of National Security?: Just War, Preemption, and Iraq.” http://www.breakpoint.org/Breakpoint/ChannelRoot/FeaturesGroup/BreakPointCommentaries/A+Matter+of+National+Security.htm
J. Budziszewski, “Just War Revisited,” BREAKPOINT ONLINE, 17 December 2002 http://www.breakpoint.org/Breakpoint/ChannelRoot/FeaturesGroup/OnlineFeatures/Just+War+Revisited.htm (a response to the BreakPoint Commentary, “Fighting Fire with Fire”). http://www.breakpoint.org/Breakpoint/ChannelRoot/FeaturesGroup/BreakPointCommentaries/Fighting+Fire+with+Fire.htm
BreakPoint Commentary No. 020723, “Missing an Opportunity: AIDS and Christianity.” http://www.breakpoint.org/Breakpoint/ChannelRoot/FeaturesGroup/BreakPointCommentaries/Missing+an+Opportunity.htm
Nicholas Kristof, “The Next Africa?,” NEW YORK TIMES, 10 December 2002 (free registration required). http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/10/opinion/10KRIS.html
BreakPoint Commentary No. 021217, “Opening Pandora’s Box: Cloning at Stanford.” http://www.breakpoint.org/Breakpoint/ChannelRoot/FeaturesGroup/BreakPointCommentaries/Opening+Pandoras+Box.htm
William Kristol and Eric Cohen, “A Clone by Any Other Name,” THE WEEKLY STANDARD, December 23, 2002. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/016htlqv.asp
See the November 19 and December 3 “Worldview for Parents” pages for more links and information on the issue of abortion. http://www.breakpoint.org/Breakpoint/ChannelRoot/FeaturesGroup/WorldviewForParents/Fearfully+and+Wonderfully+Made.htm http://www.breakpoint.org/Breakpoint/ChannelRoot/FeaturesGroup/WorldviewForParents/Whats+the+Big+Deal+about+Abortion+Part+2.htm
Richard D. Westfall, “Turning America’s Moral Ship,” BREAKPOINT ONLINE, 23 October 2002. http://www.breakpoint.org/Breakpoint/ChannelRoot/FeaturesGroup/OnlineFeatures/Turning+Americas+Moral+Ship.htm
Visit the Council for Biotechnology Policy and Justice Fellowship websites for more information on bioethics and criminal justice policy issues. http://www.biotechpolicy.org http://www.justicefellowship.org
“Christian America” — This “BreakPoint This Week” special includes interviews with Mark Noll of Wheaton College and Marvin Olasky of the University of Texas and WORLD magazine. They discuss the idea of our country being a “Christian” nation — exploring what American history reveals about this topic. This CD also includes a speech, “Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State,” by American University professor Daniel L. Dreisbach. https://www.pfmonline.net/str_donation.taf?Site=BP_Item&Item_Code=CDE10