It is One Thing to Enlist voluntarily.
It is Another Thing to be Drafted against one’s Will.
Doing Stateside Reserves still leaves one open for Overseas Deployment.
Stateside Reserve training is usually on week-ends.
As one of the members of the committee that drafted the German statement, let me clarify some background:
It is true that as Germans we have a very painful history and therefore an extraload of responsibility when it comes to war and defense. We wanted to be sensitive to that history. Now to say that Germany would still be under the Swastika were it not for armed conflict is not the kind of responsibility that is sensitive enough, for it would only mean that acting responsibly is to point the barrel to the right face. I don’t see that as either reflected nor radical in the sense we are called to by Jesus.
The statement was NOT considered to answer all questions regarding violence and threats to life itself. And it certainly wasn’t intended as ready-made solution to political situations of conflict und tyranny. This is not an ethics of how to resolve every conceivable situation. Here is what we wanted to say in a nutshell: if more people acted nonviolently, the world would be a better place. So let it begin with me, Lord. Let me express it with the example of the actual U.S. gun-law discussion: we don’t claim to have an answer on what should be done when an attacker wreaks havoc and how to stop him. We however think that if there would be less or no guns around, it would result in less tragedies. And we want to walk forward. That is why we called it audacity. It is not the wide and easy road. It is the narrow one.
We didn’t mention the individual choice in matters of military service for one single reason: don’t state the obvious! If choice on ethical matters were not up to the individual, what kind of church would we be in the first place?
To Dennis Hofer who discovered the “other brothers (and sisters)”. Don’t rush to conclusions on who admitted to historical and current failures and what should have been done. The referenced statement “Schuld und Versagen” (2014) did actually what you said should happen (just a click away). Brothers from the Reform-Movement and the “Official” Church had a historical handshake in 2014 at Friedensau University. I would advise to research before passing judgment. Or at least ask.
To Charles Scriven. You have understood the spirit of the document. Ideals are not worth anything if they are not lofty and challenging. The cheap turn on the rhetorical question of what the curdish women or the Jews or whomever should do obfuscates examples of radical non-violence that actually changed the course of history (Gandhi, MLK etc.). As said repeatedly: there is no easy way out of the question.
The German statement is certainly a reaction to an all too non-chalant submissiveness to national identity and prowess that we perceive especially in the United States. The marriage of patriotism and christianity (Billy Graham being a good exhibit) is troublesome to us (see item 1). Just as Germans could be charged (as they are in this discussion) of being too romantic and pacifistic, the question in return is whether always (seemingly) being on the right side (being God’s own country) doesn’t blur one’s ethical compass in troubling ways. That is why we didn’t insist on non-combatancy alone (which can easily become complicity), but advised our young people to stay away from the war-machinery altogether, if that is possible.
I hope that clarifies some of the questions raised.
God bless you, friends