I'm okay with that though for the intended purposes of this post.(2) My point in all this is not to explain the relationship between those three political sovereigns (or two - again I'm still unclear on the details), but my point is simply to ask, from a Biblical perspective, how should the U.S. be involved?
Should the U.S. impose sanctions against Russia?
Should the U.S. send aid to Ukraine?
The answers to those questions will, in part, depend on how we define the U.S.
Should the U.S. (as in the U.S. government) impose sanctions against Russia?
Should the U.S. (as in private American citizens) send aid to Ukraine?
Here is where it gets a little more sticky.
But regardless of how we're defining the terms and how sticky the situation is, as Christians, we still need to think of it in terms of Christian ethics (that is, in terms of what we ought to do regarding the situation according to God's Word and the Lordship of Christ in our lives). And indeed, we ought to do something...
But what is it that we ought to do?
Well, before we go off and choose a side, I think it's pretty important to realize first that the situation genuinely is hard to untangle.
How many of us really know all the history regarding Russia, Ukraine, and/or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea? And remember, if you don't know the history, you're not doing yourself any favors by rushing off to dogmatically say who is in the right and what we should do about it (see Prv. 18:17; 19:2).
Further, even if you know the history in its entirety, we still have to answer the question, as Christians, regarding how the situation involves us as American citizens over in the United States.
A situation like this calls for wisdom. And there is this one wise saying written some time ago regarding situations like this:
Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.
If you've never taken a passing dog by the ears I wouldn't recommend it. This proverb is warning us not to meddle in an argument that is not our own because of the drastic consequences that would follow that kind of foolishness.(3)
But, many protest, do we not have an obligation to love our neighbors?
We certainly do (Lk. 10:29-37) including even our enemies as well (Mt. 5:43-48); but let's keep at least two things in mind here: (1) God does not contradict himself; so avoiding an argument that is not our own in no way is in opposition to loving our neighbor; and (2) we have an obligation to love our neighbor; we do not have an obligation to force others to "love our neighbors," which would actually be a contradiction itself.
So what am I saying?
Well, if you study the issue (Prv. 18:17, 19:2) and come to the conclusion that one side is clearly in the right and is in need of our help, then definitely - love your neighbor. And by that I mean you, you, give yourself to aiding your neighbor - whether that means sacrificing financially to give them aid, volunteering to join their army and physically fight for their just cause, or whatever else might be the case in which you are freely giving something of yourself for the benefit of your neighbor (1 Jn. 3:16-18).
That is loving your neighbor.
What is not loving your neighbor is to ask your congress or president (or approve of them if or when they do) to force others (that is, your other neighbors) to give of themselves by sacrificing financially, sacrificing their children or their own physical bodies or even lives, or anything else that might be the case in which others are forced to perform what would otherwise be considered an act of free-will mercy.
You see, we do have an obligation to love our neighbors - all of them. So if we come to the conclusion that one neighbor is in genuine need of our help, and we can do something about it, we are indeed permitted - even commanded - to help them. But we are the ones who have the call to live that out. We are to go and help our neighbor at that point.
What we are not permitted to do is to go over to yet another neighbor and demand (with threat of force) that they go and help our mutual neighbor with the same zeal we ourselves have (especially if all the while we go back to our own home and just watch for updates on the news). That is not the command, and that is not loving our neighbor. Yet that is what happens when congress or the president authorize sending government aid or sending troops.
So what is loving our neighbor in the current Crimean crisis?
Assuming we don't know the history, or even if we do know the history we understand that the argument is not our own so we are not to get involved, there are still ways in which we can help.
We can, as a church, continue to send missionaries to Ukraine, Russia, and the Crimean region. If we're called by God, we can go over ourselves as missionaries to Ukraine, Russia, and the Crimean region. Whoever we are and wherever we're at we can pray for all the people involved in the crisis; we can pray for the missionaries that are over there and the fellow believers in Christ who are already over there in their own established churches.
This also entails personal sacrifice on our part. We have to sacrifice time when we pray for those mentioned above. We have to sacrifice financially by supporting missionaries there. We have to sacrifice with our physical bodies and/or even our own lives if we're called as missionaries over there. But the point is, all these are personal sacrifices and willful acts. That is true love toward our neighbor.
So back to the original questions:
Should the U.S. (as in the U.S. government) impose sanctions against Russia?
I would say that the U.S. government has no right to do so. The argument is not ours. Regardless of what our personal feelings or thoughts are on the subject, the U.S. has no jurisdictional say in the Crimean territory. And I'd have to agree with my good ole friend Ron Paul that imposing sanctions is at least to some degree an act of war.
Should the U.S. (as in the U.S. government) provide aid to Ukraine?
Again, the U.S. government has no place in this argument and should stay out of it, lest we be like one who takes a passing dog by the ears (Prv. 26:17) and suffer the consequences.
Should the U.S. (as in private American citizens) provide aid to Ukraine?(4)
Well, in a sense, yes - in that private Christian American citizens should pray for the Ukraine people, the Ukraine Christians and churches, the missionaries in Ukraine (as indeed we're called to pray for all the saints - Eph. 6:18). The individuals who are called by God to be missionaries in Ukraine should stay their course, and the churches supporting those missionaries should stay theirs. But the same should be done for Russia too. There are believers in Russia, churches in Russia, missionaries in Russia, and unbelievers who need to hear the gospel in Russia as well.
As for the Crimean crisis, it really shouldn't make a difference. The Great Commission still needs to be the marching orders of the church (5), and the people in the Crimean region need to become disciples of Christ. Until that happens, regarding the geo-political matters, if it's not our argument as U.S. citizens, we really need to stay out of it.
I find it quite interesting that as a nation we want to tell Russia and Ukraine what they can and can't, should and should't do, as if we have the moral high ground, when in our own country we murder over three thousand innocent children a day and ballyhoo our sexual corruption. Perhaps as a nation, instead of reaching for that "love your neighbor" text that we so often want to use as justification for imposing sanctions or sending troops overseas, we should instead turn to the text on humble self-reflection:
How can you say to your brother,
(1) I realize I may have inadvertently "chosen a side" here by possibly recognizing an illegitimate political sovereignty over there. My intention is not to choose a side but simply to be forthcoming about my ignorance on the topic, an ignorance I believe many Americans share.
(2) I'm not excusing myself here. But truly, learning the geo-political history of Europe is quite the task - especially given that my formal history education consisted mainly of North America, that is, the part that came to be known as the United States of America, beginning with Christopher Columbus, jumping to 1776 and progressing to the Civil War, and then jumping to the Holocaust. Sadly, my state-funded history education pretty much ended there...
(3) I realize that as a nation we might already be somewhat involved because of our meddling in the first place, which presents further problems with the situation. However, if that is the case, I'm not sure how continued meddling is the right thing to do.
(4) I clearly by-passed the "Should the U.S. (as in private American citizens) impose sanctions against Russia?" question because it simply doesn't make any practical sense. I don't see how there could be a way it could happen, even if someone wanted to impose personal sanctions.
(5) Of course in that, the Great Commission is not simply evangelizing but discipling the nations to the point of all believers bringing all life's issues under the Lordship of Christ - including that of the civil government.
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