Mark Nettum, Veteran, Retired. Does Matthew 13:24-29 Teach Nonviolence?

By Jon Kauffman

Mark has been my friend for almost 15 years.

I enjoy discussing Christianity and the military with Mark. He tells me what he thinks.

This seems right since it was about thirty minutes after I finished snow-blowing my driveway. Picture: © 2020 by Leon Kauffman

We agree about many things concerning Christianity. We disagree about the military. Mark told me a story that he feels helps justify violence.

Mark told me about an incident in Vietnam when an old woman was approaching a group of American soldiers. The woman had a shoulder yoke with two buckets. The soldiers discussed the possibility that the woman was coming to kill them. Many of the soldiers said they would not shoot her. The Sergeant shot the woman. Her buckets were filled with grenades and she was planning to kill them.

The Parable of the Weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

Was the old Vietnamese woman a weed? Is the US military in the business of pulling weeds for Jesus?

What was the old woman’s perspective? Perhaps she viewed the US military as a real threat? Perhaps she saw us as an invading military force who had killed her husband? Imagine. Maybe our US military had killed three of her sons? Perhaps her grandchildren where hiding in the trees when that area was napalmed?

Missionaries reached Vietnam before the US military reached Vietnam. Was the old woman a Christian? Jesus said, 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13.

If she was a follower of Jesus would Jesus want us to lay down our lives for her instead of killing her? How do we identify the “heathens” that we can kill? How do we know if the US government really is pointing us in the direction of enemies Jesus wants to kill?

Does Jesus really want us to kill those foreign heathen? How do we know when one of our government’s enemies is a follower of Jesus and someone for whom we should be laying down our lives?  Why should we not lay down our lives for our enemies if Jesus told us to love them?

When Jesus said we can show no greater love than laying down our lives for our friends I am confident Jesus was referring to those who were his followers. I am confident that Jesus expects us to consider those who are the friends of Jesus to also be our friends. I am also confident Jesus meant for us to love our brothers and sisters in foreign lands and that if we love them, we are also loving him.

I also strongly suspect that Jesus considers those who might someday become his followers to be his friends. What if we send someone Jesus loves to hell because we killed them? Would it be worth our dying so the person could someday become a follower of Jesus?

Are we invading foreign lands and killing followers of Jesus?

Maybe the old woman was the one trying to pull weeds?

See discussion about my conversation with Jason. What Do We Owe Veterans? Or The Last Native American

See Mark Twain’s take on war: The War Prayer by Mark Twain.

Mark Twain

See reasons that others have given to support violence by Christians: Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

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Copyright © 2020 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Author: Jon

Jon Kauffman graduated from Goshen College, earning a BA in Religion. Jon attended a Mennonite Church while growing up and currently attends the Salvation Army Church. Jon works as a drafter at TrueNorth Steel, Fargo, ND.

4 thoughts on “Mark Nettum, Veteran, Retired. Does Matthew 13:24-29 Teach Nonviolence?”

  1. “Perhaps she viewed the US military as a real threat? Perhaps she saw us as an invading military force”
    In both cases she would’ve been correct. The old woman had every right tom do the best she could to fight the green giants and weed them out of her country. The US military is, by its very nature, a tool of evil powerful corporations and a threat to world peace. It started with the founding of NATO, alienating the soviets, wreaking havoc on Korea and Vietnam and so forth and so forth. Since the end of WWII the US is in permanent warfare, invading many countries, killing millions of people – far above what the evil nazis could’ve even dreamed of – creating huge profits for the military industrial complex, fighting proxy wars … and none of them justified.

    Latest example: Syria. Only parties fighting ISIS there are the Syrian and Russian forces while US troops are slowing down the process, standing in the way, bombing their supposed allies, holding whole provinces at ransom and creating chaos and lies. And then it transpires ISIS is doing America’s dirty work, was never really to be opposed and only the stupid Russians fell for the call to arms.

    Is that what Christians are supposed to do?


  2. One of my seminary classmates was a fellow ex-Marine who had been a sniper in Vietnam. Never talked about it. But it took its toll. Lost his family. Died an alcoholic. One of the bright lights on the subject of war and Christians is Charles Spurgeon. Though thousands read his daily devotion and share his memes, few will ever see these quotes. Hope others will attempt to share them widely.

    Liked by 1 person

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