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Former Congressman Ron Paul
Associated Press/Photo by Ben Margot, File
Former Congressman Ron Paul

Ron Paul's sword

Military

On Feb. 2, Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL and author of the best-selling autobiography, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, was shot and killed by Eddie Ray Routh, a Marine purportedly afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. The shooting took place at a gun range. 

Two days later, former Congressman Ron Paul wrote the following on Twitter: "Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that 'he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.' Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense."

As expected, an online volcano erupted. Some called Paul's remarks an attack on the military and disrespectful to Kyle's family, while others said some veterans have treated PTSD by going to a gun range. 

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Paul referenced Matthew 26:52. After Christ finished praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas and "a great multitude of people with swords and clubs" came to arrest him. A servant of the high priest laid hands on Christ, and Peter cut off the servant's ear. "Put your sword in its place," Christ said, "for all who take the sword will perish by the sword." 

We know that God forbids unlawful killing, not all killing. According to John MacArthur's Study Bible, Christ's words are a restatement of Genesis 9:6: "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man." In the context of the garden, Christ was speaking against vigilantism: Peter was taking the law into his own hands. Christ came to fulfill the Father's will, and that will included His arrest and His death on the cross, which was necessary to pay for the sins of those He came to save. His disciple's "defense" with the sword, or any intention to kill the men who came to arrest Him, was not justified.

In response to the criticism, Paul offered this explanation on Facebook:

As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend's violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad event. My condolences and prayers go out to Mr. Kyle's family. Unconstitutional and unnecessary wars have endless unintended consequences. A policy of non-violence, as Christ preached, would have prevented this and similar tragedies.

I'm wondering, along with everyone else, whether Ron Paul, a military veteran, considers all killing in warfare unlawful, or whether his view is limited to what he calls "unconstitutional and unnecessary" wars. Is Paul saying Kyle's murder, though sad and tragic, was to be expected because he was a sniper? Regardless, Kyle didn't seek vigilante justice or murder people. He performed his duty as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Routh, on the other hand, committed an unlawful killing. 

If Paul believes Christ preached a policy of non-violence, why did he join the military?

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications

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