"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
Few things get me more riled up than the twisted lies that pass for patriotic language around war. Particularly when the language is stolen from the gospel and then inverted to express blackhearted malice disguised as nobility. The maggot ridden heart of these poisonous lies is the concept of sacrifice.
We opine poetically that soldiers are noble and virtuous for their "sacrifice". This is not the truth.
Soldiers do not sacrifice themselves. Soldiers do everything they can to ensure it is the other guy who dies. In no sense do they "lay down their life". They do exactly the opposite. They take up arms and defend their life with everything at their disposal.
This is not to say that there are not moments of heroism in war. Stories of soldiers risking danger to save buddies are exciting and inspiring - but in no sense do they qualify as a sacrifice.
But the word sacrifice does apply to war, in a very different sense. A sacrifice is a violent offering on behalf of the people from among their own possessions or people. The sacrifice being offered in this case is all of the victims of war: our own soldiers as well as the enemy, civilian casualties, and even the widows, orphans, destroyed economies, and broken veterans that are the aftermath. The one making the sacrifice is none other than the people of the nation, led by our priestly political leaders. The altar is our patriotic pride, and the purpose is appeasing the gods of fear and hate, and securing a fragile unity for our bloodthirsty tribe.
Steeping our war in these religious waters leads to an idolatrous brew so noxious it is literally anti-Christ.
I can't say this any clearer - you cannot follow the Prince of Peace while glorifying Mars. God in Christ has nothing to do with war. There is no just war. There is no righteous way to kill another person. There is nothing noble or sacrificial about taking up arms against your neighbors.
But sacrifice is at the heart of it. Human Sacrifice. The Tomb of the Unknowns is a modern Aztec temple with reddened marble steps. It is a charred altar with an insatiable thirst for human blood and still beating hearts ripped from chests in the name of false ideals. It is a monument of lies.
The lie that freedom is costly - it is not! It is the free gift of God's grace.
The lie that security is within our grasp - it is not! Our only security is in God and all grasping after security in this life is an act of useless violence.
And the lie which sustains the two above: that the cost of freedom and the means to security are sacrifice. God abolished sacrifice eternally by laying down his own life for friends rather than taking a single life in pursuit of his own freedom or security.
Since all sacrifice is ended we have no choice but to call war what it is: mass-murder. And the ones who commit it are none other than ourselves.