Friday, 11 December 2009
Should Christians be in the military or police force? What about the positions within those organizations that do not require violent activity?-Trunthepaige and othersAnswer:
Provided by Theophilus166This is a difficult question, and a personal one for those of us who have friends in our churches who in the military. Probably the most relevant scripture is in Romans 13.
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
It is important, however, to remember that at the end of Romans 12, leading into this passage, is an exhortation to love our enemies, and do good rather and evil to our enemies. This is the behavior that is acceptable for followers of Christ.
In Romans 13, it is with the assumption that followers of Christ are not in the military that Paul speaks of the military as one of God’s instruments of justice. It is impossible to draw a direct correlation between military service in Paul’s day, and to our own. Military service meant acknowledgement of the legion’s pagan god, which was obviously not permissible for Christians. For them, the issue was not only violence, but worship of pagan gods.
Thus, in Romans 12, we have instructions for Christians. In Romans 13, we have instructions for Christian interaction with an explicitly non-Christian government and military. As Christians, our primary allegiance lies with Jesus, His teachings, and His Kingdom. Any other allegiance must submit to our allegiance to Christ. If Christ commands us to love our enemies (which I believe has clearly been established in scripture and throughout the XCCP blog), we are obligated to do so regardless of any national commitments to do otherwise. While our nation may consider it honorable to fight for the lives of those around us, the example and teaching given to us by Jesus is to lay down our lives peacefully. Nowhere in the teachings of Christ are we encouraged to use violence for even the greatest causes. We are called to live by God's means, and trust God with the end result.
To answer the second part of the question, I believe it would be difficult for a Christian to have non-violent roles in explicitly violent organizations. If I support someone committing armed robbery, I am guilty of being an accomplice even if I just drive a car. If someone wrongs me, and I give someone else a weapon in order to hurt the person who wronged me, I am not acting in love towards my enemy.
We cannot separate our own role from the vision of the company we work for. I could not, in good conscience, be in charge of travel arrangements for a doctor who is traveling to abort babies – even if my direct responsibility isn’t inherently sinful. In the same way, I cannot support an organization that behaves in a way that I believe is clearly against the teachings of Jesus.
While I believe our military and police force often have noble goals (protecting the innocent, preventing genocide, etc.), they use means that I simply cannot justify as a follower of Christ. I cannot kill those that I’m called to love, no matter how grievous their offenses, or how much threat they pose to me or my family. Violence is simply not a tool at our disposal as Christians, whether personally or nationally.
Do you believe Christians can remain true to their values, morals and virtues while serving in the military or police force?