Go to War or Stay on the Sidelines?
By Mitchell Powers
Ukraine has recently been fronted by a mass of Russian forces at their border. The tension of the Russian confrontation has been felt by both Europeans and NATO allies, such as the United States. The situation across the globe is one that begs many questions of previous global wars, crossed political views, and an intersection of varied religious-cultural views.
Currently, in Russia, there are over 70 Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) positioned in Russia’s southwest sector, the area which borders Ukraine. Each BTG is equipped with about 600–1,000 troops and associated artillery. That is four times the manpower than was used in the 2015 Ukraine-Russia confrontation. 
With Russia heavily equipped, prepared for advanced operations, and with “activated units [on] every corner of its territory,” many have asked if this could turn into war. 
Choosing between fighting and defending or not reacting and seeking peace is difficult, nuanced, and poses several challenges. However, according to Bridget Moix, a writer for the Religion News Service, “the path to another endless war is being laid. Russian forces are massed on the border, ordinary Ukrainians are arming themselves and the United States is preparing to send more troops to Eastern Europe. But war is not the answer, and never inevitable.” 
Many religions teach of higher morality in abstinence of stealing, lying, or murdering; however, other religious perspectives do not share a clear pacifist answer like Moix proposes. In fact, the Christian message portrayed in the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, is quite complicated on the matter. Narratives in the Old Testament depict a God with a nation in war, bloodshed, and in conquering land. It also depicts a God honoring those in good judgement who protect their family, and children—especially when protecting those that are the least of them.
Conversely, in the New Testament, the revelation of God in Christ suggests that the character of God is pacifist, and ruthless in love, that Jesus would lay down his life to save others. The Bible, in its literary genius, presents both makeups of God’s character to suggest that God is both judging justly, and freely loving—in pure complementary function.
God created us in the image of Him.  That is, that we live like Him. So, on the topic of global war, protecting sovereign nations, staying home, or playing it safe, one might want to ask the question: How would God work out His just judgement and freely given steadfast love at a time like this?
- The Economist Newspaper. (2022, January 31). How big is Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine? The Economist. https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2022/01/31/how-big-is-russias-military-build-up-around-ukraine
- Moix, B. (2022, February 4). The choice in Ukraine is simple: Peace, not war. Religion News Service. https://religionnews.com/2022/02/03/the-choice-in-ukraine-is-simple-peace-not-war/
- Genesis 1:26 NIV.