By Charles Kiker
(This op-ed appeared in the June 6 Amarillo Globe-News.)
The possession and possible use of nuclear weapons is a spiritual, political and personal issue. It is a spiritual issue because life is a spiritual issue. The Ten Commandments state it negatively, “Thou shalt not kill.” Jesus stated it positively, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
It is a political, though not a partisan, issue. Republican presidents have worked toward agreements reducing the possession of nuclear weapons. Democratic President Barack Obama signed the New START agreement aimed at further reductions in nuclear weapons on April 8, 2010.
Several former Republican secretaries of state urged ratification of the agreement. The Senate gave the world a Christmas present Dec. 22, 2010, by ratifying the agreement in a bipartisan vote. This agreement, however, is very limited in its scope. It applies only to the United States and Russia, and, even when fully implemented, will only reduce nuclear weapons by 50 percent. Much remains to be done to eliminate the threat of nuclear conflict.
The church cannot control the state. But the church can bear witness to the state. This time at the anniversary of Hiroshima is a good time for that witness.
For me, the issue of nuclear weapons is deeply personal. On Aug. 6, 1945, my family had a very close and much loved relative who had fought in numerous battles in the Pacific. He was stationed on Okinawa, anticipating a ground invasion of Japan. He is still with us as of this writing. A ground invasion of Japan would have resulted in tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, killed and maimed. So my family and I experienced relief when Japan surrendered a few days after atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not long after that, I dreamed I had set off an atomic bomb in our barn. I was filled with guilt and shame at the destruction I had wrought.
Somehow, though not yet 12 years old, I realized that I was responsible — that my finger was on the nuclear trigger. I am still responsible. Therefore, as a Christian I will pray for and speak for the total elimination of nuclear weapons from God’s world.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Dr. Charles Kiker is a retired Baptist minister who lives in Tulia.