Dr. Enns has been showcasing Seibert's view of violent texts in the Old Testament. His final installment, which has, in my opinion, been horribly superficial can be found here:
Seibert's conclusions mimick those of many in the past few years, the most recent being Thom Stark's suggestion that we use such violent texts as texts we should condemn as counterexamples.
However, I'm curious how a pacifist like Seibert answers the following dilemma:
The children of the Canaanites will grow up and look to put the children of the Israelites to death due to the implementation of ancient Near Eastern thinking that children are bound to maintain familial vendettas in order to avenge the deaths of family members.
What I don't think such superficial thinking takes into consideration is the condundrum:
If God does not command the Israelites to wipe out the children of the Canaanites, then he is ensuring the death of the children of the Israelites.
Now, here is the moral dilemma, and why "loving" your way to an acceptable answer doesn't work.
If we understand that loving someone means that we must protect them from the violence of others, then the only way to do that is often to use violence to fulfill that goal.
For instance, I travel through a foreign land with my children. Out walks a local who is intent on murdering my children, for whatever reason (perhaps, he thinks my family is a threat to him by our entering his land). I have a gun. He has a gun. I can choose to allow him to murder my children by doing nothing and "loving" him. But by doing so, I am making a choice to not love my children more than I love the murderer. I let them be murdered even though I have the ability to stop him by killing him first.
Conversely, if I kill him before he murders my children, I am loving my children, but not loving him in that instance by killing him.
Both of these premises assume that loving someone means that you protect them from violence and do not allow them to be murdered (I assume every rational person with even a minute moral compass would agree with that).
Hence, this is the dilemma for Seibert.
If God, and we joining with Him, really loves His children in the situation, then He can only do one of two things: Let the Israelites be murdered, or let the Canaanites, who are under His judgment for their sins, be executed both by Himself (the text actually says that He kills more Canaanites than the Israelites do) and by His people He is training to act as a self-defending nation among other nations in the world.
So here is my question for Siebert: "If you were God, what would you do in that situation?" "What is the most loving course of action in your estimation?"
While we're on that, what is the most loving course of action for the Tutsi when the Hutu man enters their huts intent on slaughtering their families? What if the same spirit of vendetta ruled the hearts of moderns? Would not allowing the children of those who will indeed rise up to murder your children not be an act that sentences your children to death?
You can't merely use our modern context as a backdrop to the divine judgments concerning women and babies in the Old Testament. It's not our world. It's easy to say, "Ooh, I don't like icky violence and condemn the whole lot of it," while you sit safely by the fire in your Lazyboy, sipping your cup of coffee, watching your kids play with their favorite Tonka Toys on the floor. You don't have to make those choices. You can just dumb love down to sympathy toward all people, but that definition of love isn't biblical nor is it practical in the real world of choices when the violence of the world turns in on your children.
I have said many times that God's acts here are acts of love, real-life love, not the pixie dust love of liberal theorists speaking from the safety of their ivory towers. God saves His children by killing the Egyptian children because He loves, not despite of it. God saves His children by killing the Canaanite children because He loves, not despite of it.
Is that our situation? Not in America for the most part (although there are occasional instances where some of us are tested with such a choice to kill a killer and save our loved ones). But we have no voice of God telling us to do so. We have only His example that true love doesn't lay down when one's children are in jeopardy. Only the most hateful and worst element of humanity speak of love for one's enemy when their children's throats are being slit. And that's not even considering that God is timeless, seeing all future events as though they were present---seeing those helpless babies grow up and murder His people all in one moment. What's a loving God to do, Mr. Seibert? What's a loving God to do?