American society was founded on Christian principles. Some of those principles found in the Bible are Freedom, Individual liberty, Equality in the eyes of God, and love for everyone. Humankind is supposed to love each other, forgive each other, and turn the other cheek according to the Bible. God is a God of love, so how can a Christian even contemplate joining a force that is defined by killing?
These are some of the questions many people face when they feel a patriotic pull to join the military. It is a question many soldiers face, especially after having to do things that a soldier must do. Sometimes, even PTSD is a result of the conflict within one’s mind over what they perceive to be right and good, and what actions they were forced to take on the battlefield.
What does the Bible really say about violence, death, killing, and being a soldier?
I will break this down into three simple questions. What does the Bible say about soldiers? What does Jesus say about fighting, war, and soldiers? Finally, what does the Bible command Christians to do in regards to violence and fighting?
First, what does the Bible say about soldiers?
The God of the Old Testament was a God of Justice primarily. It is full of stories of war and bloodshed. In fact, many of the revered men and kings in the Christian tradition were warriors. Primarily, God had these men fight wars for the sake of justice, although; in the beginning of the Jewish tradition they were ordered to fight and kill nations that were merely occupying land that was to be theirs. Many of these nations were in fact historically verified tyrants and brutal peoples, so a lot of that makes sense in the full picture of history.
King David was a man of war and he said several times that it was God that taught him to fight. He was the one that slew the giant Goliath at the age of 17.MXLLS
Psalm 18:34“He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.”(David quoted this from a prophet of God name Samuel. 2 Samuel 22:35)
Psalm 144:1“Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.”
King Solomon is revered as the wisest person ever to walk the Earth as evidenced by this verse in 1 Kings 4:29“And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore… For he was wiser than all men.”
Solomon stated that there is actually a time for war.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: . . . A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
2 Samuel 23 lists many heroic deeds of men of war. My favorite is Benaiah who was more honorable than the thirty mighty men of King David’s personal bodyguards. He was so courageous and crazy that one time he saw a lion trapped in a pit in the winter time and he jumped in the pit to test himself against the lion. He won.
In Matthew 8 Jesus spoke of a Roman Centurion (the conquerors of the Jews) who had great authority and great faith.
In Acts 10, Paul the Apostle tells of another Roman Centurion of the Italian Band that was a good man who became a Christian.
The conclusion of the first point is that the Bible reveres warriors who are just, kind, strong, good to their underlings, and who seek out truth. A good Christian soldier has the potential to right wrongs and do good things even in an evil military such as the Roman Army.
Secondly, what does Jesus say about fighting?
In His famous Sermon on the Mount Jesus addressed this with a phrase that is very often used against Christians today.Matthew 5:39“…but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”
and in verse 44 said, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
This was an injunction against personal retaliation and in context is referring to the entire sermon regarding one’s heart attitude. “Turning the other cheek means not to return insult for insult in retaliation, which is what most people expect and how worldly people act.” – www.gotquestions.org Please check out that website for an excellent evaluation of these verses.
Jesus certainly advocated violence when it was Just.
John 2:15 “And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;”
An important note here is that Jesus actually took the time to fashion a weapon. It wasn’t violence for the sake of violence, it was calculated and planned.
Later, Jesus encouraged his own disciples to buy weapons to prepare for dangerous times. Shortly after this, He was crucified and his disciples hunted down, tortured, and killed. Why would He encourage it if He did not want them to use the weapons, especially in self defense?
Luke 22:36 “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”
The conclusion to the second point is that Jesus advocates violence in the name of Justice, righteous anger, and in self defense. He even respected soldiers like the Centurion who had faith.
Finally, what does the Bible command Christians to do in regards to violence and fighting?
The Bible encourages Christians to be meek and not brawlers. The Sermon on the Mount goes into detail about that. Also, Titus spoke about it.
Titus 3:2 “speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.”
However, the Bible makes it clear that Christians are to be champions of freedom and the oppressed.
Psalm 82:3 “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.”
My favorite passage is this:
“Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord.”
A Christian should look at the whole Bible and not just choose bits and pieces to follow. It is clear, when all of this is taken in context, that a true Christian should be slow to violence, loving, and kind. It is also clear that God respects those who are skilled at war and who use that skill righteously in defense of one’s family, one’s house, one’s nation, and for the sake of justice.
A Christian should be proud to be a soldier, should do his/her duty to the best of their ability, and always show HONOR, COURAGE, and COMMITMENT.