One of the great teachings of Jesus Christ is the separation of Church and State. The issue came up many times in His ministry and during the life of Paul. Christ’s enemies raised it directly to Him in Matthew 22:17-21. Jesus’ response was, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” Secular rulers have often tried to use the Church to validate what they did. A classic example of how far astray things can go is blessing nuclear bombs.
Vladimir Putin has made the Russian Orthodox Church an arm of the state, and for some time now, he has had the priests blessing nuclear bombs. They do it by splashing “holy water” on the nukes. Previously the Church was doing the blessing on all arms as well as seeking divine protection for soldiers. A church commission has been set up by the Russian Orthodox Church to investigate whether weapons of mass destruction should be included in the blessings.
The Russian military is building a cathedral in a military park outside Moscow, further emphasizing the close connection between the state and the Church. Jesus did not confront the Roman authorities of His day. Paul taught the importance of Christians being subject in civil life to civil authority (Romans 13). The idea of Christians blessing war and destruction flies in the face of all Jesus taught.
Atheists can justifiably complain about abuses like this one, but we must separate what Jesus taught from what various denominations teach and do. We can defend everything Jesus taught and show its wisdom, but blessing nuclear bombs is not defensible.
One thing that seems to never go away is the incredible stupidity of human beings. Every day we see people do things that not only don’t make sense but in many cases are clearly wrong. Scientific American (March 2017, page 10) has some data that shows just how close the world has come to annihilation due to the failures of humans to manage nuclear resources wisely.
The article states that both the United States and Russia have about 900 nukes ready to launch. In 1983 the Russian detection system said the U.S. missiles were on their way. A Russian military officer had a gut feeling that it was a false alarm, and didn’t push the button that would have plunged the world into a nuclear war. It turned out he was right. In 1979 a similar situation developed in the United States which activated ballistic missiles and nuclear bomber crews. Satellites could not verify the alert, so the retaliation was not ordered. It turned out that training software which had a simulation built in had found its way into the alert system. In 1974 during his impeachment proceedings, President Nixon said to reporters: “I can go into my office and pick up the telephone, and in 25 minutes 70 million people will be dead.” There were those who were worried that he would do just that.