08/29/2013 02:23 pm ET | Updated Oct 29, 2013

Lines Must Be Drawn In Syria

There is a legitimate moral imperative for the international community to take limited military action that disrupts Syria's ability to use weapons of mass destruction against civilian targets.

War is contrary to the will of God. That is a foundational belief of mine. Any time force is used it must be seen as a failure of the human imagination to develop the just peace needed to free the world from on-going conflicts.

Nevertheless, there are times when the international community has a responsibility to protect civilian lives. We must never allow genocide to occur (though we have). And we must never allow the use of weapons of mass destruction to be used against civilian populations (but, again, we have). Each time these evils are allowed to occur it gives future governments license to replicate the crimes. Lines must be drawn.

Over 100,000 have already died in Syria's civil war. U.S. or other western ground troops would not make the situation better but worse. Still, there must be consequences for the use of poison gas against civilian targets. If NATO forces can disable the military apparatus of President Bashar al-Assad it would be a powerful symbol to the entire world that the use of such weapons will not be tolerated. United Nations support for such action would be ideal. President Obama should do everything in his power to forge an international coalition. Such a military campaign would need to be focused, targeted at military facilities linked with chemical weapons, limited in duration, and aimed at protecting the lives of civilians.

If war is contrary to the will of God, it is sin. Even with the best intentions, the noblest intentions, war is not what God hopes for us. So we should pray for forgiveness even as we hope for success. In the end, military action will not solve the problem of Syria. Only negations and worldwide pressure for the Assad government to leave power will achieve that. The rebels are no saints and have shown causal disregard for human rights. For now, in the immediate crisis caused by Assad's government, the best we can do is save lives and halt some of the killing.