Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Give us this day our daily weapons.

Reacting in part to recent missile tests by Iran and North Korea, President Obama and a unanimous UN Security Council last week endorsed a sweeping strategy to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and ultimately eliminate them. Is nuclear disarmament a religious issue? Is it a pro-life issue? Is support for nuclear disarmament a moral imperative? Should we pray for nuclear disarmament?

Nuclear disarmament is one of the first things people who identify themselves as Christians should be praying for. This issue is most certainly a religious one, but further than that, it is a human one because our very existence is on the line.

As a fourth year student at seminary, I have been through the ups and downs of a thriving and dried up prayer life (sometimes simultaneously). The one consistent aspect of my prayer life, just as in the prayer lives of many Christians before me and across the world, has been the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus teaches his followers to pray in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Even when I had nothing to say to God, and in my opinion, God had nothing to say to me, I recited the Lord’s Prayer. With every recitation, I believe that I was praying for nuclear disarmament.

Many biblical scholars believe that the Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect prayer that can be recited because it covers all the bases, so to speak, that one needs to cover when one prays. It covers the spectrum from praise to thanksgiving to asking for forgiveness, all in one little prayer. But what does all of this have to do with nuclear disarmament? Let’s dig in.

Although there are many moments in the Lord’s Prayer where one could surmise that Jesus could have been talking to us right now, the crucial moment in this prayer comes in the second half. And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. In this petition of the prayer, the person praying asks God to forgive citing our own acts of forgiveness as a model. That’s pretty heavy stuff. This one small sentence shows us that how we act towards each other is how we hope God acts towards us when it comes to forgiveness.

And what if God had nuclear weapons? If God had nuclear weapons, that would mean that God knew there would be a point where there was no turning back, where forgiveness could be completely out of the question. That would mean that there could be a point where God would say: “Forget the little children! I hate my creation! I want to destroy everything I have made! I can no longer forgive you!” And I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty scary.

The God I pray to is one that I am confident does not reach that point of no return, the point where the red button is pushed and the bomb is released upon unsuspecting and innocent civilians. So, we too must take heed to the prayer of forgiveness. Nuclear disarmament is the truest form of forgiveness because it is preemptive forgiveness. Just as we in the Christian faith believe that Jesus died for our sins years before we took our first breath, so too must we learn to forgive those who sin against us, because that is the only option for life.

Our world is a scary and unsettling place which becomes even more scary and unsettling when one thinks of nuclear weapons in the hands of mortals around the world. As religious individuals, our call to duty is to arm ourselves with our weapons of mass destruction: love and peace, for they will be the most disarming of them all.


Fred said...

Good job on a tough subject. No question that nuclear disarmament needs to be a priority for a Christian. Using the Lord's Prayer is a very persuasive tool. The why is easier than the how. The in-your-face problem right now, of course, is what to do about Iran. Pray for successful diplomacy. I'm certainly happier having the Obama administration in the mix rather than the former one.

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