Syria: A War Against Uncivilized War?

The use of chemical weapons in Syria has shocked the world. As we debate what uncivilized warfare is, a plan is in motion that will end warfare altogether.

With the evidence that Syria used chemical weapons against its own people continuing to pile up, the words “civilized” or “norms” of warfare have entered the world conversation. Most believe the use of chemical weapons clearly qualifies as “uncivilized” warfare.

The latest incident, in which a reported 1,400 people (including women and children) were killed, has sparked debate over what exactly is a “red line” or breaching the “norms” of warfare. The evidence seems to be clear that a neurotoxin was present in whatever hit the victims. One of the doctors present in Damascus described patients with “symptoms including convulsions, excess saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress.”

Still, others have noted what seems to be the hypocrisy of making a distinction between acceptable warfare and unacceptable warfare. Most agree that the 1,400 deaths by chemical weapons are unacceptable, but does that mean the previous 100,000 deaths in Syria were acceptable?

The norms of warfare

Chemical or biological warfare and crimes against humanity are horrific and terrible.

Sadly, what is considered acceptable warfare can be just as painful, destructive—and deadly. How could anyone truly consider the following to be “civilized” warfare?

  1. Sniper bullets ripping through unsuspecting enemies from a distance—sometimes killing the victims instantly and sometimes leaving them suffering in agonizing pain or permanently disabled.
  2. Explosives with hot shrapnel removing limbs and arms.
  3. Weapons made for the explicit purpose of killing as many human beings as possible.

This is civilized? How can the “civilized” world continue if this is what is considered civilized? The truth is—it can’t.

Man’s standard versus God’s standard

The bottom line is that the problem isn’t definitions of warfare; the problem is us. Humanity has decided what is right and wrong, and that includes approved war tactics and taboo war tactics. Jeremiah 10:23 rightly states: “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”

Of course, crimes against humanity and chemical or biological weapons are horrific; but unfortunately, the concept that seems lost on many (except perhaps veterans) is that all war is horrific.

Return of the Righteous Judge

Jesus Christ is waiting to return to this earth and save us from ourselves (Matthew 24:21-22). He sees our wars and the ingenious ways we’ve devised to kill our enemies. The day He returns to set up the Kingdom of God on this earth, He will figuratively grab the collars of bloodthirsty humanity and in essence decree: “Stop destroying yourselves! Stop gassing children and bombing villages!”

Jesus Christ will have to wage war (Revelation 19:11) in order to stop war. But He will stop it and then will go about ruling mankind and teaching the way that will lead to true peace (Isaiah 9:7).

Yes, the end of warfare is coming, and it can’t come soon enough. One day, the terms chemical weapons and civilized warfare won’t even be in our vocabulary. We should be echoing the words of Revelation 22:20: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

As an approaching war with Syria dominates headlines, people from around the world will gather on Thursday, Sept. 5, to celebrate the Feast of Trumpets, one of the seven biblical festivals commanded in the Bible. To learn more about how this day pictures the first step toward the end of war, read "Feast of Trumpets: Alarm of War, Announcement of Peace."

(Photo by Narciso Contreras/CC BY 2.0)

About the Author

Eddie Foster

Eddie Foster

Eddie Foster was born in Ohio, and after living in several parts of the northeastern United States, he once again lives in the Buckeye State, most likely for good this time. He lives in the Dayton area with his wife, Shannon, and two daughters, Isabella and Marley. They attend the Cincinnati/Dayton congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

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