The issue of Jesus guns reminds me of the sniper in the film Saving Private Ryan. The boy is from the deep South and quotes verses from the psalms as he pulls the trigger. "Bless the Lord my Rock, who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight."Click. Bang. Pop goes the weasel.This line of argument cuts sharply against the grain of a large swath of Catholic sentiment today, not to speak of the sentiment of general culture. Yet those acquainted with the Catholic tradition of natural law and moral reasoning about the just use of coercion, lethal force, and warfare will know that there is nothing exceptional about Fr. Nongenecker's line of thinking here. Prof. James Turner Johnson of Rutgers University, probably the leading authority on Just War Theory today, makes the startling and counterintuitive claim that we ought to thank God for smart bomb technology, for example, because it allows our military to reduce casualties among noncombatants (one of the criteria of a just war). C.S. Lewis's essays "Learning in Wartime" and "Why I am not a Pacifist" in The Weight of Glory are a good, accessible entrée into the traditional ways of understanding such issues.
It has been suggested that gun sights should not feature Bible verses and weapons should not carry religious encouragement. The gospel, we are told, is all about love. That's right, and at the end the loving person gets tortured and crucified naked in public, while his buddies deny him, run away and one hangs himself. I'm afraid the the gospel is not all puppies and kittens and Jesus carried me on the beach when I only saw one set of footprints.
The fact of the matter is that as we will always have the poor with us we shall always have the war with us. This being the case, we had better make the best of a bad job and ensure that as much as possible the wars we fight are just and that they are fought in a way that is just and avoids all killing as much as possible. In order to do this the military need to have a set of ethics and rules of engagement....
If there is going to be war, then I would rather have soldiers who had faith and standards of morality and a sense of there being such a thing as right and wrong and justice in the world, and it is Christianity that helps to make that alive and relevant in people's lives. So Bible verses on weapons therefore makes rather a lot of sense to me. So does lessons for soldiers in ethical standards of warfare, how to avoid killing and how to treat prisoners well. If that is the case then there is a strong argument for considerably more religion in the war place than less.
[Hat tip to J.M.]