Christians can serve in the military

Published 8:32 am Friday, April 3, 2020

Question: Can Christians serve in the military?
Answer: Contrary to the belief of many, military service is respected in both the Old and New Testaments. We find in 2 Kings 5:1 these words about a Syrian named Naaman. “Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valor, but he was a leper. In this verse we learn that Naaman was a man of considerable rank in the military and yet he was an honorable man. He served his master well and was respected by his master for his valor and favored by God.
In the New Testament we learn that Roman centurions were often seen as honorable men. Consider Acts 10, here Cornelius is pictured as a devout man who feared God. Being a devout man we see that though he was doing it wrong he worshipped God. Cornelius along with other Gentiles would eventually be told to obey the gospel. Yet there is never a mention of him retiring from his military service.
In Acts 8:5-10we read of the Centurion whose servant was very ill. This man knew of Jesus and had great respect for him; therefore he sought out Jesus to come to the aid of his servant whom he loved. Jesus said that this centurion had a faith that far exceeded anyone in Israel. Through all of this he was a military person; he was under the authority of others and exercised authority over others in the military.
Then we find in Acts 26-27 that the Apostle Paul was under the oversight of men in the military, yet he had a good relationship with them and they had respect for him.
Consider the words of Jesus to those in the military during his life.(Luke 3:14 KJV)– “And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” It is apparent that Jesus warns them to not use unjust force against anyone or to not accuse people falsely taking property from them unjustly.
It is important to remember that God often called his people to go to war in the Old Testament. One example is found in (I Samuel 15).
None of these we have mentioned were ever told to quit their jobs. It is important to remember that the civil government has been authorized by God to use the sword, punish the wicked, execute wrath upon he that does evil, and reward the good(Romans 13:1-7; I Peter 2:13-14). Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, used the power of civil government, specifically its military power, for his own protection even though he knew it could require the life of others (Acts 23:12-33).
There is no doubt that those in the military may be called to serve in wars or police actions that could cost them or others their lives. However, there is no scriptural evidence that shows a Christian cannot serve in the military. Wars are dangerous and terrible. Yet, the just have the right and the authority to protect themselves, their families and their fellow countrymen.
Those who are thinking of serving in the military should ask themselves the following: 1. Can you in good conscience swear to and abide by the enlistment/commissioning oath? 2. Are you willing to support the geopolitical leanings of the nation with your life? 3. Can I be, or do I have a problem with being, a person who has killed another in a just killing? 4. What is my motivation for joining the military? A Christian considering the military should prayerfully consider these questions and make an informed decision.
(Questions and Answers is provided by Tony Hoss, minister of the Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton.)

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