Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines

(cc) The U.S. Army - Flickr

(cc) The U.S. Army - Flickr

[PART 5 OF 6]

What are the implications of this concept of “the sanctity of human life”?

Does that mean that war is wrong?

Is it wrong for a Christian to serve as a soldier in the military forces of his or her country, even though such service might require the taking of another human being’s life in battle?

That is a tough question. It is a question that has been debated by Christians and Bible scholars for centuries.

Without going into all the intricacies of such a discussion, consider this: If the biblically valid concept of “the sanctity of human life” prohibits nations from going to war, then God Himself stands condemned.

Numerous times throughout the Old Testament, God Himself sent His Israelite army into battle. Numerous times, God gave direct orders for the Israelite army to kill their enemies. At times, this even included killing women and children. These are some of the most difficult Bible stories to read, because we are uncomfortable with the idea of God giving such orders … but He did.

God, who said, “You shall not murder”, commanded His army to go to war.

God, who said, “You shall not murder”, commanded His army to kill men, women, and children in the armies and the cities of their enemies.

If God is good, and He is …

If God is love, and He is …

If God is merciful, and He is …

If God is incapable of doing evil, and He is …

… then the only conclusion we can draw is that war is not inherently evil.

A soldier who kills in battle is not necessarily guilty of murder. He has not necessarily violated the sanctity of human life.

Just as in the case of crooked political leaders and “bad cops”, it is certainly possible that a soldier could abuse the power that comes with the uniform and the weapon. We have seen numerous news stories over the past several years of alleged war crimes committed by those serving in the military (although some of those stories seem to have been motivated more by political expediency than by a sincere quest for truth and justice). A warrior who kills unjustly will give account before God for his unjust actions. But the fact that some military personnel abuse their power and commit acts of unjustifiable violence against their enemies, does not negate the legitimacy of the military as a tool of defense and enforcement for a government ordained by God (Romans 13:1-7).

Many men and women through the years have selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to establish and maintain the freedoms that we take for granted every day. Many have given their very lives defending those freedoms. We should be thankful from the deepest place in our hearts for their selflessness. We should pray every day for those who currently serve in the armed forces: for their safety, for the success of their mission, for a quick end to the battles and wars in which they are engaged, and for their safe return home.
Paul O'Rear Signature

This is Part 4 in a 6-part series entitled “The Sanctity of Life”.
Part 1: “The Sanctity of Human Life
Part 2: “Is Human Life Holy?
Part 3: “What About Capital Punishment?
Part 4: “I Wanna Be a Policeman
Part 5: “Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines”
Part 6: “Abortion

Next: “Abortion

Photo Credit:

  1. Black Hawk unload, by The U.S. Army (Flickr), Creative Commons License

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