Conscientious Objectors

By Ken Simmons

A movie called Hacksaw Ridge was recently released. It tells the true story of WWII US Army medic Desmond Doss who wanted to serve his country but didn't want to kill people. He became the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. In a world of airsoft battles, video games, and women in combat, the movie re-opens the concept of conscientious objecting and what the Bible has to say about it.

Should a Christian join the military? If so, should he or she volunteer for combat? God does honor those who obey from the heart His commands, but there is no direct command in the Bible for serving or fighting in the military. It is a matter of conscience, and the decision should be based on how the Bible speaks to the individual (Romans 14). In that regard, whatever a person decides, if it is Bible based, I can accept.

It is my view that God's ideal preference is a world without war, but because of the sin of mankind, war happens. God tolerates war and works within it to save all who would call on His Name for salvation. He has, in the past, commanded Israel to go to war, but that was in the Old Testament. Israel, at that time, was a theocracy. A theocracy is a nation that recognizes God as their supreme authority and takes its orders directly from Him. Many times, God commanded the Israelites to go to war, but this may have happened because the people and their leaders had a lack of dedication and trust in Him. In Exodus 14:14 Moses made this statement, "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent," and many times, God did defeat Israel's enemies without Israel's help.

I do know some Christians who are conscientious objectors and believe that all wars are totally out of the will of God. For instance, they would say that the Revolutionary War violated Romans 13:1-2 when it states, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment." Their reasoning would be that the 13 colonies were subject to England and resistance to that authority was in violation of God's direct command. But if God appointed the United States to be independent, then they would be self-governing. And since the United States won that war, it is obvious that God recognized and gave them their independence. Concerning the Civil War, It may be the South failed because God did not recognize the South as a sovereign state, so their attempt to secede was rebellion against Romans 13:1-7.

When Jesus walked on earth, He clearly demonstrated His power to protect His disciples from harm. Matthew 8:23-27 gives the account of Christ and his disciples in a boat at sea during a storm. It states:
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?"
Some of the disciples of Jesus, who were with Him at his arrest, trial, and crucifixion, carried swords. My view of this is that because of their lack of trust in God, Christ permitted them to carry a weapon. Matthew 26:51-54 states:
And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?"
Christ had the power to resist the Romans and the Jewish leaders and escape crucifixion, but His mission on earth was to be the atoning sacrifice for sin. He was born to pay the penalty of sin, and that is why He did not resist.

I believe that God has a place for both conscientious objectors as well as for those who are not. It is by God's grace that a person can serve his or her country in defense against an invading country, and by grace, it is acceptable to be a conscientious objector. God understands our weaknesses, and for those who are willing, He takes us from where we are to where He wants us to be. Hebrews 4:15 says this about Christ, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."

Image Credit: Jessica Paterson; "Medic!"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  |  Christian-Life  |  Controversial-Issues

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Published on 5-22-17