A young man or woman has many decisions to make about his or her future.  Some consider spending time in a branch of the armed forces because of the certain seen benefits:  Your physical condition would improve, your life would be ordered, you would see new places and meet new friends, you could learn a career, and have your college education paid for.   But what is God’s will for you?  This study will help you to discern God’s mind on the subject of whether service in the military is compatible with being a Christian.
Is war compatible with Christianity?
MATTHEW 5:44-45 “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, that ye may be the children of your Father which in heaven; for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

1.  Can one blow people’s brains out with a rifle and keep this command of Jesus?
2.  How does one “love” his enemies?

3. How much freedom of conscience does one have in the military?  Can one always keep the seventh-day Sabbath holy in the army?  EXODUS 20:8-11.
4. Is warfare agreeable to the principles of the sixth commandment?  EXODUS 20:13.
  Note:  Some have called war–”legalized murder.” 
5. To what has God called us as Christians?  1 CORINTHIANS 7:15.
6.  As Christians what weapons are we not to use?  1 CORINTHIANS 10:4.

7.  How do children learn to use weapons of carnal war?  Romans 1:31.
  Note:  As recently as WWII, researchers say, only 15 to 20 percent of soldiers could bring themselves to fire on the enemy.  So the U.S. Army set out to fix things.  The first step was to replace standard bull’s-eye targets with man-shaped silhouettes.  Next came pop-up, man-shaped targets, then three-dimensional, pop-up, man-shaped targets, and the military discovered that it took only a few hundred repetitions, a few hundred rounds, before shooting to kill became instinctive, automatic, and bingo!–recruits were acting reflexively, without thinking, like Pavlov’s dog.  By the Korean War, about 55 percent of Americans were shooting to kill; by Vietnam, it was more than 90 percent.
  Bullets cost money, however, and the military brass eventually figured out they could replicate the firing range experience electronically, with computers and light guns.  They could even recreate battlefield scenarios–scenarios wherein the enemy fights back.  In other words, video games.  Citizen, Feb. 2006, by Jeff Hooten.

8.  What weapon is permitted to be used in the gospel warfare?  EPHESIANS 6:17.
The teaching of Jesus Christ
9.  Is Christ’s kingdom part of this world?  JOHN 18:36.
  Note:  This is the most indisputable evidence that Christians have nothing to do with carnal instruments of war.
10.  If our work is the same as Christ’s, then what is our work in this world?  LUKE 9:56.

11.  Is God with us when we kill others?  ROMANS 8:9.
  Note:  If God’s Spirit sends us to save men, does not some other spirit send us to destroy them?  Let us know what manner of spirit we are of.
12.  Rather than fighting, what is better?  MATTHEW 5:39. 
13.  What did Jesus say to Peter after he cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear with a sword?  MATTHEW 26:52.

ROMANS 12:17-21:  Recompense to no man evil for evil. … If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” saith the Lord.  Therefore “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; If he thirst, give him drink; For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

14. How do these verses relate to Christians waging war?
15. Can you tell of an instance in your life, or in the life of someone you know, where evil was overcome with good?
16. During World War II, American “Christians” were killing German “Christians” (and vice-versa). What is wrong with this picture?

17.  How does a Christian behave toward others and so fulfill the law?  ROMANS 13:10.
18.  Would it be ethical to be part of an organization whose purpose is to make war?
19.  Why is there war?  Read the first few verses in JAMES 4 and comment.

Military life and Christianity
  ACTS 5:29:  ”Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said: We ought to obey God rather than men.”

 I CORINTHIANS 7:23:  ”You are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.”

II CORINTHIANS 6:14-15:  “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  And what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial?  Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”
20. Explain what it means to be “unequally yoked together.”
21.  How similar is military service to civilian employment?  By law, who must a soldier (or marine, etc.) obey?
22. Are enlisted personnel taught to “hate” the nation’s enemies?  Is hating anyone consistent with the teachings of Jesus?  Consider I JOHN 3:15.
23.  What are the effects of warfare on the mental health of those who participate? 
  Note:  Many return from war with lifelong recurring mental horrors–post traumatic stress syndrome.

What About Israel?
David was a Bible hero and ancient Israel was commanded by God to fight, so joining the military should be okay in God’s sight, right?  Consider the following verses.
  EXODUS 14:13,14:  And Moses said unto the People, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you today:  for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.  The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

  EXODUS 23:23,27-28:  For Mine Angel shall go before thee and bring thee in unto the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off.  (27) I will send My fear before thee, and will destroy (cause confusion among) all the people to whom thou shalt come; and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.  (28) And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before thee.

  JOSHUA 10:11:  And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died:  they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.
  JOSHUA 24:12:  And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites: but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

23.  What does this passage teach us about Israel’s need to fight?
 Note:  “The Lord had never commanded them to “go up and fight.”  It was not His purpose that they should gain the land by warfare, but by strict obedience to His commands.”  Patriarchs & Prophets, 392.
24.  Is it wrong for God to take human life?  Why or why not?  GENESIS 15:16.
25.  Who has the right to take human life? Does a Christian have that right?
26.  What can we learn from the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 5;13-23, and the example of Jehoshaphat recorded in II CHRONICLES 20:1-30?  And consider the story of Hezekiah and Sennacherib in chapter 32.
27.  David had a great desire to build a house (temple) for God.  Wouldn’t that be pleasing to God?  Why didn’t God allow him to build it?  Read I CHRONICLES 22:7-8.
28. What do you think God would have preferred Israel do instead of taking up arms against the Canaanites?
  Note:  God has given humans the freedom to choose whether to obey or disobey Him.  Character development requires that we have a free will.  Because of a lack of faith, Israel waged war against certain nations.  God’s purpose — to bring Israel into Canaan–was going to be done regardless of what Israel chose.  Even though Israel chose to fight, God still fulfilled His purpose.

In the 3rd century, a Roman named Celsus criticized Christians saying if everyone followed their example, the Roman Empire would be conquered by the barbarians.  The theologian Origen said Christians wouldn’t fight even if required to.  However, he stated that even though Christians were a minority, their work, love and prayers did more to preserve the Empire than the armies. (Origen. Contra Celsus. Book VIII, Chap. LXVIII, LXX, LXIII.  Can be found on the Internet at:

Ellen G. White
    “I saw that it is our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with His own finger.  ”I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.”  He who has God’s law written in the heart will obey God rather than men, and will sooner disobey all men than deviate in the least from the commandment of God.  God’s people, taught by the inspiration of truth, and led by a good conscience to live by every word of God, will take His law, written in their hearts, as the only authority which they can acknowledge or consent to obey.  The wisdom and authority of the divine law are supreme.
   “I was shown that God’s people, who are His peculiar treasure, cannot engage in this perplexing war, for it is opposed to every principle of their faith.  In the army they cannot obey the truth and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers.  There would be a continual violation of conscience.  Worldly men are governed by worldly principles.  They can appreciate no other.  Worldly policy and public opinion comprise the principle of action that governs them and leads them to practice the form of rightdoing.  But God’s people cannot be governed by these motives.  The words and commands of God, written in the soul, are spirit and life, and there is power in them to bring into subjection and enforce obedience.  The ten precepts of Jehovah are the foundation of all righteous and good laws.  Those who love God’s commandments will conform to every good law of the land.  But if the requirements of the rulers are such as conflict with the laws of God, the only question to be settled is:  Shall we obey God, or man?  1 Testimonies, 361,362, by Ellen G. White.

Menno Simons
  “I  am well aware that the tyrants who boast themselves Christians attempt to justify their horrible wars and shedding of blood, and would present it as a good work by referring us to Moses, Joshua, etc.  But they do not reflect that Moses and his successors, with their iron sword, have served out their time and that Jesus Christ has now given us a new commandment and has girded our loins with another sword….  The defenders of war and bloodshed do not consider that they use the sword of war contrary to all evangelical Scripture against their own brethren, namely those of like faith with them who have received the same baptism and have broken the same bread with them and are thus members of the same body.”  (Part I, p. 198).
   “Peter was commanded to put his sword into the sheath.  All Christians are bidden to love their enemies, do good to those who do them evil, and pray for those who abuse and persecute them; to give the cloak also if any one sue them at law for the coat; if they are stricken on the right cheek to turn to him who abuses them the other also.  Say, beloved, how can a Christian, according to the Scriptures, consistently retaliate, rebel, war, murder, slay, torture, steal, rob and burn cities and conquer countries?  Matt. 26:52; John 18:10; Matt. 5:12, 39,40. (II:306b)