Military Service

Should Christians serve in the military? It’s a question that many Christians barely consider, while others wrestle with it at great length. In some countries, some form of military service is required, while in others enlisting may be limited to those with an inclination to serve in the military, or those seeking promised financial advantages.

Christians worship the Prince of Peace, who taught His followers to be peacemakers. The sixth commandment tells us not to kill (Ex. 20:13), leading many Christians to reject military service outright or to claim non-combatant roles if compelled to serve. Some have found a compromise by agreeing to serve in a medical capacity. International law mandates that all military chaplains and medical personnel be non-combatants.

Military service requires submitting yourself to the authority of an institution in ways that can compromise your Christian faith, including Sabbath observance and the use of weapons. As a soldier, you are required to follow orders. You may be obligated to participate in actions that contradict your Christian faith and the morality that arises from it. At some point, you may have to choose whether or not to take action that may end the life of another human being.

If you find yourself in an armed conflict, you must recognize that you will never fully leave the experience behind. No matter how well you carried yourself, you may always wrestle with questions of “What if . . .?”

When a war begins, it opens the door to all manner of evil, from killing to torture to sexual assault. A committed Christian must, therefore, carefully consider their participation in the machinery of war. At the same time, we must be careful not to judge those who, for whatever reasons, do get involved in the military.