A World Without War—When?
THE Charter of the United Nations went into effect on October 24, 1945. It is the most comprehensive strategy for world peace ever to be designed by humans. With its original 51 member States, the United Nations became the largest international organization in the history of the world. Also, for the first time ever, an international organization would have access to an army to enforce peace and security and bring about a world without war.
Today, with 185 member States, the United Nations is stronger than ever. Why, then, has the most powerful international organization in history failed to accomplish its noble objectives fully?
Religion—A Great Hindrance
One major complication is the role that religion plays in world affairs. True, ever since the inception of the United Nations, the principal religions of the world have pledged their support to that organization. Referring to its 50th anniversary, Pope John Paul II spoke of the United Nations as “the instrument par excellence for promoting and safeguarding peace.” His sentiments are shared by a global community of religious leaders. But this tactful liaison between religion and government cannot hide the fact that religion has been a hindrance and a nuisance to the United Nations.
For centuries religion has played a prime role in promoting or supporting nationalistic hatred, wars, and genocides. In recent years, under the cloak of religious fervor, neighbors have killed one another. The term “ethnic cleansing” has been widely used in connection with the war in the Balkans. However, the violent hatred that many there have for one another is based on religious affiliation rather than on race, since most of them have the same ethnic roots. Yes, religion must accept much of the responsibility for the bloodbath in the former Yugoslavia, and the United Nations has not been able to stop it.
Appropriately, a college professor of religion recently stated that “in a post cold-war world of increasing religious militancies, an examination of religion and genocide may be one of our more pressing priorities, despite the discomfort it engenders.” A new awareness of how religion is impeding the efforts for world peace is evident today.
A 1981 UN declaration stated: “Concerned by manifestations of intolerance and by the existence of discrimination in matters of religion or belief still in evidence in some areas of the world, Resolved to adopt all necessary measures for the speedy elimination of such intolerance in all its forms and manifestations and to prevent and combat discrimination on the ground of religion or belief.”
In harmony with their declaration, the United Nations has declared 1995 to be the Year for Tolerance. Realistically speaking, though, will it ever be possible to achieve peace and security in a world divided by religion?
The Future of Religion
A prophecy in the Bible book of Revelation provides the answer. It speaks of a symbolic “great harlot” that sits as “a queen” and has “a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” This harlot lives “in shameless luxury” and has relations with the world’s governments. These governments are depicted as “a scarlet-colored wild beast,” upon which the harlot rides in comfort. (Revelation 17:1-5, 18; 18:7) Known as “Babylon the Great,” this powerful and immoral woman is named after ancient Babylon, the cradle of idolatrous religion. Appropriately, today the harlot represents all the world’s religions, which have mingled in with the affairs of governments.
The account goes on to say that, in time, God will put it into the hearts of militaristic components of the wild beast to take action. These “will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.” (Revelation 17:16)a Thus Jehovah God himself will have taken the initiative by maneuvering powerful nations into a campaign to remove false religion. The worldwide religious system, with its luxurious temples and shrines, will be completely devastated. Religious hindrance to establishing peace and security will then be out of their way. But even then, will there be real peace and security on earth?
Imperfect Human Nature
Is there any guarantee that eliminating religion will really clear the way for a world without war? No. The United Nations will continue to face an ironic situation. On the one hand, people want peace and security. Yet, on the other hand, it is people who pose the greatest threat to peace and security. Hatred, pride, egotism, selfishness, and ignorance are human traits at the root of all conflicts and wars.—James 4:1-4.
The Bible foretold that in our day people would be “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride.”—2 Timothy 3:1-4.
Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali acknowledged that “the world is suffering from a social and moral crisis which, in many societies, is of immense proportions.” No amount of diplomatic maneuvers can neutralize the harmful traits of imperfect human nature.—Compare Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9.
Jesus Christ—The Prince of Peace
Clearly, the United Nations does not have the ability to bring world peace. Its members and supporters are all imperfect humans, notwithstanding their lofty goals. The Bible says that “to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Furthermore, God warns: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.”—Psalm 146:3.
The Bible foretells what Jehovah will accomplish through his Son, the “Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6, 7 states: “There has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end.”
The nations of the world have been wearied by 50 years of frustrated efforts. Very soon they will destroy harlotlike religious organizations. Then Jesus Christ, the “King of kings and Lord of lords,” and his army of heavenly warriors will dissolve all human governments and put to death all who reject God’s sovereignty. (Revelation 19:11-21; compare Daniel 2:44.) By this means Jehovah God will bring about a world without war.
a For an in-depth study of the prophecy of Revelation regarding Babylon the Great, see chapters 33 to 37 of the book Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand!, published in 1988 by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE UNITED NATIONS
In Bible prophecy, human governments are often symbolized by wild beasts. (Daniel 7:6, 12, 23; 8:20-22) Hence, for many decades the Watchtower magazine has identified the wild beasts of Revelation chapters 13 and 17 with today’s worldly governments. This includes the United Nations, which is depicted in Revelation chapter 17 as a scarlet-colored beast with seven heads and ten horns.
However, this Scriptural position does not condone any form of disrespect toward governments or their officials. The Bible clearly states: “Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except by God; the existing authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God. Therefore he who opposes the authority has taken a stand against the arrangement of God; those who have taken a stand against it will receive judgment to themselves.”—Romans 13:1, 2.
Accordingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are maintaining strict political neutrality, do not interfere with human governments. They never foment revolution or participate in acts of civil disobedience. Rather, they recognize that some form of government is necessary to maintain law and order in human society.—Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1.
Jehovah’s Witnesses view the United Nations organization as they do other governmental bodies of the world. They acknowledge that the United Nations continues to exist by God’s permission. In harmony with the Bible, Jehovah’s Witnesses render due respect to all governments and obey them as long as such obedience does not require that they sin against God.—Acts 5:29.