Question: "How should Christians view weapons of mass destruction / nuclear weapons?"
Answer: Today’s weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are capable of inflicting millions of deaths in a matter of seconds. Does the Bible say anything about how we should view these weapons?
First, the technology is new, but the end result of warfare is not. The purpose of using such weapons is to bring about much death, and death is something frequently discussed in Scripture. Death in the context of war is often noted, especially in the Old Testament. Peace was usually desirable, yet death in war was an unfortunate reality of life for many in biblical history. Throughout the Bible we have vivid images of the barbarities of war, including outright genocide (Joshua 6:17–21; 1 Samuel 15:2–3).
In the tribulation period, the four horsemen of the apocalypse will ride out to conquer, to impoverish, and to kill (Revelation 6:1–8). With war comes not only conflict and hostility but also economic disaster, illness, and widespread death.
In a world filled with sin, hatred, and evil (Romans 3:10–18), war is unavoidable. In our modern, technologically advanced world, warfare includes the threat of WMDs. As Christians, we should not desire war (Matthew 5:9). At the same time, we must accept the fact that God has given our government authority to administer justice with “the sword” (Romans 13:1; cf. 1 Peter 2:13). Governments also bear the divinely ordained responsibility to protect their citizens. Sometimes administering justice and protecting against aggression even includes the manufacture and use of weapons of mass destruction.
Second, believers are commanded to pursue peace. Psalm 34:14 exhorts, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Having adequate weaponry is a key to maintaining peace. King Solomon, in an era of peace, kept 1,400 chariots and 12,000 war horses in addition to his infantry (1 Kings 10:26). We are called to pursue peace as much as possible, yet we also recognize the principle of peace through strength; the possession of weapons of mass destruction—in the right hands—can be a deterrent to war.
Third, believers do not need to live in fear of weapons of mass destruction. In his description of Christ’s rapture of believers, Paul concludes, “Encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We look forward to eternity with the Lord and do not need to live in fear of the weapons of this world.
Fourth, in democratic societies believers can use their voices for good. Proverbs 31:8–9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” As we are able, we can help relieve the casualties of war and aid those affected by the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Fifth, prayer is more powerful than any weapon of mass destruction. God ultimately controls the ability of humans to use weapons of mass destruction. Our prayers serve in powerful ways to change the course of history (see James 5:16). “Some trust in chariots and some in horses [and some in WMDs], but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).