Die Liebe Und Der Hass Im Kriege (Love and Hatred in Wartime)

EA 15/16.

Additional Information
Author Eberhard Arnold
Date March 20, 1915
Document Id 0000000038_17_S
Available Transcriptions English German

Love and Hatred in Wartime

[Arnold, Eberhard and Emmy papers – P.M.S.]

[Draft Translation by Bruderhof Historical Archive]

Der Wahrheitszeuge, March 1915

EA 15/16

Love and Hatred in Wartime

By Dr. Eberhard Arnold

Part I

We are living in a tremendous, great time, and we cannot be thankful enough for what God has brought about by enthusing men for the fatherland and by lifting men's hearts up to God. A love has arisen in our nation which does not move in a sweetly sentimental way, but rather gives itself essentially in strength. It is a love of action, ready to sacrifice itself where one has received so much, a love which lays down its life on the altar of the fatherland, for the emperor, for relations, and compatriots.

But in the midst of this mighty, great time, this glorious exaltation, there slumbers a danger consisting in a misunderstanding of the power of the patriotic movement we are experiencing today.  It is the widespread idea that the strength of the national movement consists in hatred of the enemy, whereas all facts of life furnish proof that the strength of every movement lies in the highest manifestation of inwardness, which is love.

In a small frontier town in France there lived a German scholar who had become a cosmopolitan. He believed he had to encompass the whole world with his love.  He felt a member of mankind and wanted to live for it.  But he no longer felt a son of his fatherland and thought he had emancipated himself from its narrow confines.

Then the Great War broke out.  And he, who tried to love all nations in the same way, experienced the mad hatred of the French and English against the Germans.  In his purified mind he did not retaliate with a similar animosity and hatred against these outbreaks.  On the contrary, love rose up in him.  For when the furious invectives were launched against the children of his fatherland, he felt he was a German and that the Germans were his people.  Love awoke in him for the harassed fatherland.  Not hatred against the enemies, but love to his imperiled people, and the suddenly arising awareness how much he owed to his country drove him out of his cosmopolitanism home to Germany and into the ranks of the German soldiers.

The root of all strength and every patriotic movement as well is love, and not hatred.

What we owe to our country is love--the love which causes the whole nation to stand up as one man, to fill the post allotted to him by the fatherland.  Love gives the testimony which Mirza Schaffy has expressed (in "Faith and Life" 4) in brief and simple words: "Your hatred is your punishment."  Hatred is nothing but punishment.  It brings its own punishment with it.

Therefore we do not fear the hatred of our enemies which makes them demand our annihilation in blind fury.  For the roots of our strength do not lie in hatred, but only in love.

For love knows no fear.  "Perfect love casts out fear" (1. John 4:18).  Gottfried of Strasbourg was free of hatred when he exclaimed:  Higher yet man's worth is placed/When by hatred he is faced.

It is good that we are hated in the whole world, and we are thankful for it.  For hatred leads us to become freer of all tutelage, slavery, and servility, freer from everything before which we have so readily cringed and crawled.  We are being led to become aware of our own peculiarity, of our German inwardness, of the roots of our inward strength. *  The hatred of our enemies is a fortunate teacher.  What is all-important now is the deeper question, the main issue, namely:  What is the reason for this hatred?  Being hated for the sake of good--that alone will stand, will receive blessing.  Only being hated for the sake of Jesus, the Most High, has full promise.

Jesus says:  "Blessed are you when men revile (hate) you... on my account" (Matt.5:11).  Hatred is a fire in which one becomes hardened like steel, a fire which tries the gold.

            In the newspapers even the Red Cross was spreading the song of hatred:

            We have loved enough to date,

            Now at last we want to hate. (Leipzig News)

Poor fatherland, if this slogan were to find acceptance among us, and if wider circles would open themselves to this mood!  We shall lose the roots of our strength, if we believe that we have loved enough!

What we need is the opposite.  It is the great recognition:  We have never loved enough, let us love at last, love with the love of strength, with the power of action.  We too want to overcome our enemies, but not to annihilate them, but rather in order to carry the task of love and strength which we have for the whole world, hence also to our enemies.

But instead of this truth the lie of hatred is being proclaimed with all the means of language and music, and we are summoned to act out of self-destructive hatred, as Franz Meyerhoff has done:

            Let us go to the judgment place

            And swear an oath there face to face--

            An oath of steel, which no wind can toss,

            An oath for all who come after us.

            Consider the word, repeat the word;

            Throughout all Germany let it be heard:

            We will not let go of this our hate--

            Hatred on sea and hatred on land,

            Hatred of head and hatred of hand,

            Hatred of hammer and hatred of thrones,

            Hatred of seventy millions of souls.

May God protect us all from thus bringing His judgment down upon us!  May He save us from all the powers and dominions originating from the abyss!  This poem also demonstrates it!  Hatred stems from the assassin, the murderer from the beginning, the devil, as the father of lies.  It arouses our deepest sympathy if we hear such blood-curdling cries of the tortured souls of our compatriots.  We too feel with our fatherland the infamous crime that the same England has burdened itself with for which over decades we have had a feeling of high respect and kinship.  But we regret the misguided tenor of this song which believes that the strength of the patriotic movement is to be found in hatred, as though the better we learn to hate the more victories we should gain.

Strength and hatred are opposites and do not go together.  Hatred is a passion that weakens.  Feelings of revenge are weakening sensations which lead away from the innermost nature of our strength, and dissipate what we ought to gather.  Schiller is right when he says:  "When I hate, I am robbing myself of something" (Schiller: "Philosophical Letters").

Hatred is a loss of energy impoverishing me inwardly.  Love is the opposite.  When I give I do not lose, rather energy is strengthened and increases in me.  "When I love I become richer by what I love" (Schiller, ibid.).

And we who know God and know that the nature of God and of life consist in love; we know from experience that "he who does not love does not know God."  Hatred is the complete opposite of God's nature, of the love and power of the Most High.

The non-Christian poet Gustav Falke unmasks in a shaking way the deep hurt and true nature of hatred:

            Today I saw hatred--glorious, naked hate, defiant

            As I imagine the beauty of fallen angels must be,

            Wildness all over and rebellious pride.


            "What beauty is thine!" admiring I spoke.

            "Millions there are who adore me," he smiled.

            "Mine is the kingdom!"


            And I looked up and spied 'twixt night-darkened brown

            The vertical furrow of grief, deeply carved.

            "Why then this furrow?"

            Turning away he was silent.

            "Why then this furrow?"


            Softly, tormented came back the reply:

            "Because I am not permitted to love."

Love, however, is a power that enriches and can only grow and increase as it is practiced.

If we chose hatred, this furrow of grief characterizing the defiant, rebellious pride of fallen angels and satanic powers, we chose our own punishment and misfortune.  If we however chose love, we have the joy of experiencing an all-surpassing power of sun-like warmth, an exuberant happiness which has the right deed for every situation.

In the seriousness of a decisive hour in His life Jesus called His God the power.  "They will see him at the right hand of the power!"  And John, who was closest to the heart of Jesus, testified to the God of Jesus Christ as love.  "God is love, and he who abodes in love abides in God, and God abides in him." (1.John 4:16).  He who does not love does not know God.  God is strength because He is Love.

If we want to stand the test of this mighty world war we must be a people of love.

One can understand the abhorrence many feel at the slogan of love, because the great counterfeiter has succeeded in defaming love, presenting it in the caricature of a weakly good-naturedness and of murderous sensuality.  True love we can only recognize in God's sending of His Son.

His love was deed, was strength and sacrifice and action.  What the world calls love is either weakness or exploitation of the lowest kind.  Here the word is valid indeed:  "Love is fabricated and only hate is true."  Therefore Jesus called out:  "Not as the world gives it do I give it to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27).

What the gravity of the time demands is the opposite of the love that is chastisement; it is the love as it is in God, the love that is rooted and gradually revealed in the God who is power.  Nowadays, certainly, there are hard trials which love has to endure, for everywhere the war has torn apart those who were close to one another in heart.  The gravity of the war demands much, but it also bestows much.  It strengthens and deepens love.  Not only in cases where the harmony was broken, where harsh discord had torn love apart, has the war effected the new accord of hearts; but also the well-tried love that has known no such catastrophes will be deepened and strengthened by the suffering and the struggle.  Happy are the wife and the mother, the bride and the parents who hold firm and stay true in this cruel war!  For every test of strain means an increase of love.  For love signifies faithfulness.  Where there is no loyalty, there is no love.  Now is the time when love is being tested.  Faithfulness is an attribute of the German.  For fidelity comes from inwardness.  And inwardness is our proper calling.  The risk of caricature threatens only love that is disloyal.  There is an increase of depressing reports that frivolous love [not in accordance with the German ideal] and foul lechery are spreading once more.  Lessing says: "It is an unworthy love that has no misgivings about exposing its object to scorn."  May the war impart that to our fatherland, and we want to pray for it, that our soldiers, as well as our women and girls, acquire constant hearts and so stay protected from the devilish, bestial caricature of degrading love.

True love is strength.  Real love is deed, the act of helping, the complete submission of the whole man.

It is the perfect contrast to that sordid degeneracy of mutual desecration and degradation.  But no less is it the complete opposite of the second caricature that is called "love".  That indulgence and good nature that can say no to nothing, can refuse and reject nothing, that thinks it has to howl with the wolves, is the opposite of love.  That inane weakness, which is called love and yet is only a desire to please people and is lacking in character, has by its falsity brought the course of true love into discredit, no less than loveless sensual pleasure has done.

If we want to know what true love is, we can get to know it only in the person who has embodied pure and perfect love: Jesus.  His life was a fighter’s life.  It was the opposition to everything that was halfhearted and bad in the holy war for God.  Therefore he had to say.  "I have not come to bring peace, but the sword." (Matt. 10;34).  We know he did not mean the sword of steel that causes blood to flow, but his sword was the sword of the Spirit that causes the contrasts to clash most keenly.  He knew himself to be in opposition to the devout people who believed they could lay claim to heaven through holy customs, worship meetings and by giving alms.  He knew himself to be in opposition to all who believed they count as something before God because of their devoutness.  He knew himself in opposition also to the multitude that was groaning under sin, that was delivered up to sin unable to resist it, all too often not wanting to resist it.  He was opposed to the human element, only too human, that surrounded him; for he lived in God and was free.  He knew no sin, he was not subject to evil powers, and therefore only he was able to wage an unimpeded war against all wickedness.

And he conducted this war out of love and by the strength of love.  Jesus stood there as the man of love who was ready, for the sake of this love, to fight with his life at stake.  And his battle, his war was so hard, so bitter, that his last walk was a lonesome one.  He died forsaken, praying for his enemies, bleeding for his love.  Jesus died as the warrior of love.  If we want to know and understand something of the meaning of love's power and convert it into reality, we have to have Jesus.  That is why he rose from the dead, to give himself to us, so that we experience this love, the love that is might and strength, ready for any sacrifice, resolute to meet the highest as well as the lowest person, to bring him the whole truth, the truth in love.

For this Jesus came: to translate this perfect love into reality, as the strength of life in God, which it is.  God is love, because he is power.  God's might consists in love, God's love is might.  If we need power, we need love, and when we have love we have power.  Love is might, as all authentic might is love.

            Dante perceived it in the creation:

           But yet the will rolled onward, like a wheel

            In even motion, by the love impelled

            That moves the sun in heaven and all the stars.[Henry Cary's translation]

Yet we grasp the power of love more easily in the realm of personality.  Leonardo da Vinci's word is plain to us:  "The greater the man, the deeper is his love," the smaller the man, the more resentful is his hatred.  Jesus is the only man who has passed through the world with endless love.  The more we become one with Jesus, the more power we have, as he had power, or as Geibel expresses it:

            True love dwells only in noble hearts.

            Love that gives wholeheartedly

            Is richest when it loves;

            Love that speaks of sacrifice,

            Indeed, is not true love.

Love is powerful, love is action.  False love is love in word, a mere semblance of love, praising itself.  It is the deed of love that makes the man, that characterizes the Christian.  John, who is rightly called the apostle of love, reveals to us the root of love:  "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son"  (John. 3:16).  On this the power of love and the deed of love is based.  Let no one think he can force himself or others to love.  We are enabled to love only when we experience love.  It is said in the world,  "Love awakens love in return."  And the word of God reveals the kernel of truth in this statement:  "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us" (1.John.4:10).  As soon as God's love is poured into our hearts, we also can love.  The more God's love is our deepest personal experience, all the more will we be able to spread this experience in deeds of love.

We have perceived love in that Jesus gave his life for us and we have come to know his life.  He has come to make a dwelling within us.  He wants to bestow the power of love upon us by letting us see and know his love.  So we are enabled, and we are in duty bound, to stake our lives and to live in his love.

In this war, too, everything depends on love continuing in us, for it is love that brings us to give our lives for our brothers.  The soldiers who know that Jesus died for them will show the greatest endurance.  They will most confidently and serenely give their lives for their brothers.  There is no holier incentive for a soldier than the fact: Jesus died for me, so I owe it to give my life.  Our nation will be victorious, if the roots of our strength lie, not in hatred, but in love, if we have the impulse of love for our enemies.  At present the soldiers have to defeat the lies with fire and sword, but the driving power of our military action has to be the well-tried German love; more than that, it has to be the love of Jesus, which wants to bring love to England, to the peoples under England's yoke, and to all nations groaning for love.  Our mission to the world is tremendous, if we continue in love, but God has to take our mission away, if we are cold in hatred.

This war cannot be overcome by superficial peace treaties, but only by the victory of the life that is revealed in Christ's love.  Only then will God give us influence and a gateway into other nations, when we bring to them the love of God, the true love, not of the spoken word, but the love that is deed and strength.  If we have God, we have love; then we conquer, then we have power.  Love is power, and love is victory.

Also the tremendous tension of this world war has to be resolved by the victory of life over all the powers of destruction.

Part 2

All reflection proves love to be the source and essence of all strength.  That which brings out the strength necessary for the sacrifices of the war is love to the fatherland, or where the horizon is at its narrowest at least love for one's nearest and dearest.  It is love as deed and action which demonstrated this strength--a love such as Jesus demonstrated most perfectly in the deed He accomplished, in the sacrifice He made.

God is love.  Therefore "everything God commands and wants is love," (Luther), and therefore all hatred against the enemies can only be seen as an alienation from God, enmity against God.  We are gripped by a horror of the dark powers of the abyss when not infrequently we find among present-day war poems such gruesome aberrations as the following satanic summons:

            Now flare up, hate, and kindle,

            Burn on until death in me.

            If hating would be sinning,

            Sin a command would be!

At first sight it could be rejected as unacceptable when Luther throws quite a different light on love and hatred in war:  "Although it does not seem that slaying and robbing is a work of love, leading a simple-minded person to think that it is not a Christian work and is not becoming to a Christian, yet in truth it is a work of love nevertheless.  In the same way that a good doctor dealing with a wicked, widespread plague has to have hands, feet, ears or eyes chopped off and perish in order to save the whole body...  So also when I am looking at the task of waging war, how it entails punishing the evil ones, slaying the unrighteous and causing so much misery, it seems a completely unchristian work and altogether against Christian love.  But if I consider how it protects the pious, by sparing and guarding wife and child, house and farmstead, goods and honor and peace, it is evident how precious and divine a work it is, and I become aware that this too is a question of chopping off a leg or hand in order to keep the whole body from perishing.  For unless the sword guards and maintains the peace, everything in the world would perish through strife and discord.  Therefore such a war is nothing but a small, brief unpeace, preventing a perpetual immeasurable unpeace, a small misfortune, preventing a great (even greater!) Misfortune."  Luther,*** Erlangen, Edition 22, 249).

This shows Luther's conviction that a Christian would not act as a Christian and indeed would act against love, if he would deny the use of the sword to the legitimate governing authorities.  He emphasized that the Christian had no need of the sword for himself, just as he does all other works of love which he does not require (for himself), since a true Christian does not love and serve himself, but his neighbor (Luther, Erlangen Edition 22,66 and 43, 132).  It is love to one's neighbor protecting him from the evil of the enemy; but it is at the same time love to all men, when one punishes evil and helps to reduce it to a minimum.  God sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt.5:45) and He is kind to the ungrateful and selfish (Luke 6:35); nevertheless, it corresponds to this Spirit of His love and kindness, when David prays:  "Requite them according to their work, and according to the evil of their deeds."  (Ps.28:4).

The sword is given to the governing authorities by God.  There is no authority except from God (Rom.13:1).Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed.  The authorities are the servants of God to execute His wrath on the wrongdoer, and do not bear the sword in vain, so that all are afraid who do wrong (Verse 4).  Is the much maligned militarism anything else but this sword of the authorities, for the evildoer to fear?  Has not the history of these war years given us proof enough that it is really evil against which our army goes into action, whether we think of the perfidy of the Italians, the misdeed of the Russians, the world rule of the English founded on infamy, the murderous deeds of the Serbs, or the dirty flood of conscious lies from our enemies?  "For the face of the Lord is against those that are evil."  (Deut.31:18; Ps,34:17; 1.Pet.3:12).  Hardly ever could a prince engaged in war confess with deeper honesty:  "My conscience is pure before God and history."  (Proclamation of the Kaiser, July 31, 1915)  Hardly ever could a nation wage war with a more deeply founded conviction that its government has raised its sword against evil, as the German nation and the Austrian-Hungarian nations are doing now.

The English are boasting of conducting this war without any stirrings of hatred.  In truth however a war without a glowing hatred against the evil cannot possibly be a true war, so that Luther said:  "True love must have a fire, making it red and angry; it troubles and hurts her to see her neighbor whom she loves to act so evilly against God and towards himself.  However, she does not become pale with hate and vengefulness, but remains red."  (Luther, Erlangen Edition 7,53).  What Luther wants is "wrath against the evil, not against the person."  (Luther, Erlangen Edition 43,96).

For this reason one hears from our leading circles nothing of a slogan calling for the annihilation of our adversaries or of their culture, as we had to hear it expressed again and again against us; for we want no more and no less than the most thoroughgoing prevention of their evil intentions, as the Kaiser expressed it so splendidly at the end of the first year of war:  "We are holding out unflinchingly in heroic deeds and suffering until peace is given--a peace giving us the necessary military, political, and economic securities for the future, and fulfilling the necessary conditions for an unhindered unfolding of our creative powers at home and on the open sea."  (Proclamation of the Kaiser July 31,1915)  A lesser goal would call the morality and justice of the war into question.  Unless we defeat the enemies in such a way that their evil intentions of world domination and murderous destruction are completely thwarted for the time being, and the effective unfolding of all our energies is completely guaranteed, we act against love and in favor of evil.

Again Luther finds the most appropriate word concerning this: For him it is compassion towards the devout, innocent people and --towards the enemy--"not to let him go", so that "his evil deeds are warded off, so that he must cease and desist; this is good and wholesome for him as well."  (Luther Erlangen Edition 26, 256; 258; 265).  "We too have no hearts of stone or souls of iron.  I wish no evil to anybody.  Nevertheless, we must love, forgive and be gracious to our enemies in such a way, that we do not burden ourselves with the sins of others."

The Word of God puts this demand in a most serious and most emphatic way, namely that we do not share in the evil works and sins of other people (1.Tim.5.22.; 2.John 11).  It challenges us again and again:  "Hate what is evil" (Amos 5:15; Luke 14:26; Rom.12:9), and when it urges to save an evildoer it demands that the love to him as a person is combined with the most determined hatred and the most deeply felt disgust against everything in him which is defiled by his sin.  With reference to the Son of God it is written:  "Thou hast hated lawlessness.  His throne rests on love of righteousness and hatred of lawlessness; for His scepter is a scepter of righteousness. (Heb.1:8-9)  The life of Jesus bore witness concerning men that their works are evil. (John 7:7)  He came to destroy the works of the devil. (1.John 3:8)  In essence this was accomplished at the cross.  But the time will come when He will execute the destruction on earth with war and the sword and with rod of iron (Rev.2:27; Ps.2:9; Rev.19:15).

Until then the government is appointed for the purpose of checking evil by force.  Because it consists of imperfect men, it can never achieve this in a perfect way.  But the believers stand to it.  And they must regard it as a special proof of their government's taking its authority from God when it raised its sword especially against those evils most hateful to the Lord.  "There are six things which the Lord hates, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers" (Prov.6:16-19).

"Save here, help here, have pity on the poor people.  The time of the sword and of wrath is here."  (Luther, Erlangen Edition 24:   308.)  That is true compassion for the enemies.  This is the right love to all men, namely, that we hate evil, and that we serve and help the governing authorities most willingly, and only the governing authorities, in order that peace be safeguarded, sin be punished, and evil be restrained.

Die Liebe Und Der Hass Im Kriege

[Arnold, Eberhard and Emmy papers – P.M.S.]

EA 15/16

Artikel in "Der Wahrheitszeuge"

Die Liebe Und Der Hass Im Kriege

21. August 1915


Für alles Nachdenken beweist sich die Liebe als die Quelle und das Wesen aller Kraft. Es ist die Liebe zum Vaterland oder bei dem engsten Horizont wenigstens die Liebe zu den Allernächsten, welche die Kraft zu den Opfern des Krieges hervorbringt. Es ist die Liebe als Tat und Handlung, welche diese Kraft beweist, wie sie Jesus in seiner vollendeten Tat, in seinem vollbrachten Opfer aufs vollkommenste bewiesen hat.

Gott ist die Liebe. Deshalb "ist alles, was Gott gebietet und haben will, die Liebe" (Luther), und deshalb kann aller Haß gegen die Feinde nur als Gottesferne und Gottesfeindschaft empfunden werden. Es ergreift uns ein Grauen vor den finsteren Mächten des Abgrundes, wenn wir unter den heutigen Kriegsgedichten nicht selten so schauerliche Verirrungen finden wie jene satanische Aufforderung:

"Nun flamme, Haß, und zünde

Und brenne bis in den Tod!

Und wäre Hassen Sünde-

Uns würde Sünde Gebot."

So könnte es denn auf den ersten Blick als unannehmbar zurückgewiesen werden, wenn Luther die Liebe und den Haß im Kriege von ganz anderer Seite aus beleuchtet hat: "Ob's nun wohl nicht scheinet, daß Würgen und Rauben ein Werk der Liebe ist, weshalb ein Einfältiger denkt, es sei nicht ein christliches Werk, zieme auch nicht einem Christen, so ist's doch in Wahrheit auch ein Werk der Liebe. Gleich wie ein guter Arzt, wenn die Seuche so böse und groß ist, muß Hand, Fuß, Ohr oder Augen lassen abhauen und verderben, auf daß er den ganzen Leib errette.....

Also auch, wenn ich dem Kriegsamt zusehe, wie es die Bösen straft, die Ungerechten würgt und solchen Jammer anrichtet, scheint's gar ein unchristlich Werk zu sein und allerdinge wider die christliche Liebe. Sehe ich aber an, wie es die Frommen schützt, Weib und Kind und Haus und Hof, Gut und Ehre und Friede damit erhält und bewahrt, so findet sich, wie köstlich und göttlich das Werk ist, und ich merke, daß es auch ein Bein oder Hand abhaut, auf daß der ganze Leib nicht vergehe. Denn wo das Schwert nicht wehrte und Friede hielte, so müßte alles durch Unfriede verderben, was in der Welt ist. Deshalben ist ein solcher Krieg nichts anderes denn ein kleiner kurzer Unfriede, der einem ewigen, unermeßlichen Unfrieden wehrt, ein kleines Unglück, das einem großen (noch größeren!) Unglück wehrt." (Luther Erlanger Ausgabe 22, 249.)

So ist denn Luther überzeugt, daß der Christ nicht als ein Christ und in der Tat wider die Liebe handeln würde, wenn er der gerechten Obrigkeit den Dienst des Schwertes verweigerte. Er legt Wert darauf, daß der Christ für sich selbst des Schwertes nicht bedarf, gleichwie er denn alle anderen Werke der Liebe tut, deren er nicht bedarf, weil ein rechter Christ nicht sich selbst, sondern seinen Nächsten liebt und ihm dient. (Luther,Erlanger Ausgabe 22,66 und 43,131.) Es ist die Liebe zum Nächsten, den man vor dem Bösen des Feindes schützt; aber es ist zugleich die Liebe zu allen Menschen, wenn man das Böse bestrafen und auf ein Minimum herabdrücken hilft. Gott läßt regnen über Gerechte und Ungerechte (Matth.5,45), und er ist gütig über die Boshaften (Luk.6,35), und doch entspricht es diesem seinem Geiste der Liebe und der Güte, wenn David betet: "Gib ihnen nach ihrem Tun, nach ihren bösen Taten, nach der Bosheit ihrer Handlungen." (Ps.28,4)

Das Schwert ist der Obrigkeit von Gott gegeben. Es ist keine Obrigkeit außer von Gott (Röm.13,1), wer sich daher der Obrigkeit widersetzt, widersteht der Anordnung Gottes. Die Obrigkeit ist Gottes Dienerin, eine Rächerin zur Strafe für den, welcher Böses tut. Sie trägt das Schwert nicht umsonst, damit alle die sich fürchten, die das Böse tun. (V.4.) Was ist der vielgeschmähte Militarismus anders als dieses Schwert der Obrigkeit, zum Fürchten für die Bösen?! Und wieviel Beweise hat uns die Geschichte dieser Kriegsjahre gegeben, daß es wirklich das Böse ist, gegen welches unsere Armee zu Felde zieht, mag man an den Treubruch der Italiener, an die Untaten der Russen, an die ruchlos begründete Weltherrschaft der Engländer, an die Mordarbeit der Serben oder an die schmutzige Flut der bewußten Lügen unserer Feinde denken. "Das Angesicht des Herrn steht wider die, die Böses tun." (5. Mose 31,18; Ps.34,17; 1.Petri 3,2.) Wohl noch nie konnte ein kriegführender Fürst mit tieferer Wahrhaftigkeit bekennen: "Vor Gott und der Geschichte ist mein Gewissen rein." (Erlaß des Kaisers am 31. Juli 1915.) Wohl noch nie konnte ein Volk mit tiefer begründeterer Überzeugung in einen Krieg ziehen, daß seine Obrigkeit das Schwert gegen das Böse erhoben hat, wie jetzt das deutsche Volk und die österreich-ungarischen Völker.

Die Engländer rühmen sich, diesen Krieg ohne jede Erregung des Hasses zu führen. In Wahrheit aber ist ein Krieg ohne den glühenden Haß gegen das Böse unmöglich ein rechter Krieg, so daß Luther gesagt hat: "Die rechte Liebe muß ein Feuer haben, daß sie rot und zornig wird; es verdreußt sie und tut ihr wehe, daß ihr Nächster, den sie liebt, so übel tut wider Gott und an ihm selbst; sie wird aber nicht blaß vor Haß und Rachgier, sondern bleibt in der Röte." (Luther, Erl. Ausg.8,308.) "Ein christlicher Haß der Sünden ist also getan: er unterscheidet zwischen Laster und Menschen, denkt nur das Laster zu vertilgen und den Menschen zu erhalten." (Luther, Erl. Ausg. 7,53.) Luther will den "Zorn wider das Böse, nicht wider die Person". (Luther, Erl. Ausg. 43,96.)

Deshalb hört man von unseren leitenden Kreisen nichts von einer Losung der Vernichtung unserer gegner oder ihrer Kultur, wie wir es immer wieder von unseren Feinden gegen uns vernehmen mußten; denn wir wollen ja nicht mehr und nicht weniger als das gründlichste Verhindern ihrer bösen Absichten, wie es der Kaiser am Schlusse des ersten Kriegsjahres so glänzend zum Ausdruck gebracht hat: "In heroischen Taten und Leiden harren wir ohne Wanken aus, bis der Friede kommt - ein Friede, der uns die notwendigen militärischen, politischen und wirtschaftlichen Sicherheiten für die Zukunft bietet und die Bedingungen erfüllt zur ungehemmten Entfaltung unserer schaffenden Kräfte in der Heimat und auf dem freien Meere." (Erlaß des Kaisers vom 31. Juli 1915.) Ein geringeres Ziel würde die Sittlichkeit und Gerechtigkeit des Krieges in Frage stellen; denn wenn wir die Feinde nicht so besiegen, daß ihre bösen Absichten der Weltherrschaft und der mörderischen Zerstörung nicht fürs erste völlig vereitelt sind und unsere wirksame Entfaltung aller Kräfte völlig gesichert ist, handeln wir gegen die Liebe und für das Böse. Wieder schreibt Luther hierfür das treffendste Wort. Ihm ist es Barmherzigkeit gegen die frommen, unschuldigen Leute und - gegen den Feind, "ihn nicht loszugeben," damit "seinen bösen Taten gewehrt werde, daß er damit müsse aufhören und ablassen; solches ist ihm selber gesund und gut". (Luther, Erl. Ausg. 26,256,258,265.) "Wir sind auch nicht steinernen Herzens oder eisernen Gemütes. Ich gönne niemandem Böses. Gleichwohl müssen wir unsere Feinde also lieben, also vergeben, also gnädig sein, daß wir uns nicht mit fremden Sünden beladen."

Das Wort Gottes stellt diese Forderung aufs ernsteste und nachdrücklichste, daß wir uns nicht der bösen Werke anderer und der Sünden anderer teilhaftig machen. (1.Tim.5,22; 2.Joh.11) Es fordert uns immer wieder auf: "Hasset das Böse!" (Amos 5,15; Luk.14,26; Röm.12,9.) Und wenn es uns zur Rettung eines Bösen dringt, so verlangt es mit dieser Liebe zu ihm selbst den entschlossensten Haß und die tiefst empfundene Abscheu gegen alles das zu verbinden, was an ihm von seiner Sünde befleckt ist. In bezug auf den Sohn Gottes ist es gesagt: "Du hast die Gesetzlosigkeit gehaßt." Sein Thron beruht auf der Liebe zur Gerechtigkeit, auf dem Haß gegen die Gesetzlosigkeit; denn sein Zepter ist ein Zepter der Aufrichtigkeit. (Ebr.1,8.9.) Das Zeugnis des Lebens Jesu über die Menschen war, daß ihre Werke böse sind. (Joh.7,7.) Er ist gekommen, die Werke des Teufels zu zerstören. (1.Joh.3,8.) Dem Wesen nach ist es am Kreuze vollbracht. Aber es kommt die Zeit, in der er mit Krieg und Schwert und mit eiserner Rute diese Zerstörung auf der Erde ausführen wird. (Offb.2,27;19,15; Ps.2,9.)

Bis dahin ist die Obrigkeit eingesetzt, um dem Bösen mit Gewalt zu steuern. Weil sie aus unvollkommenen Menschen besteht, kann sie dies niemals in vollkommener Weise erreichen. Aber die Gläubigen stehen zu ihr. Und sie müssen es als einen besonderen Beweis dafür festhalten, daß ihre Obrigkeit von Gott aus handelt, wenn sie das Schwert gerade gegen das Böse erhebt, was der Herr am meisten haßt. "Denn sechs Stücke haßt der Herr, und sieben sind seiner Seele ein Greuel: Hohe Augen, eine Lügenzunge, und Hände, die unschuldiges Blut vergießen; ein Herz, welches heillose Anschläge schmiedet, Füße, die eilends zum Bösen hinlaufen; wer Lügen ausspricht als falscher Zeuge, und wer Zwietracht ausstreut zwischen Brüdern."

"Rettet hier, helft hier, erbarmt euch der armen Leute. Es ist des Schwertes und des Zornes Zeit hier." (Luther,Erl. Ausg. 24,308.) Das ist das rechte Erbarmen mit den Feinden, das ist die rechte Liebe zu allen Menschen, daß wir das Böse hassen und daß wir der Obrigkeit, und nur der Obrigkeit, aufs allerwilligste dienen und helfen, daß der Friede gesichert, die Sünde gestraft und dem Bösen gewehrt wird.