Serving the Army


(Vili) #1

Hi all
recently, I just got out of High School with a low ATAR (I’ve taken the ACT from Australia), therefore I don’t really have any option to go to Uni (money is also an issue for me as well). The only possible option is if I go serve the British Army next year (should the option arise), and then study for Uni there. Whilst I am aiming for a position that doesn’t go for combat, my question is the following:
Can one still serve Christ whilst fighting/serving in the army?

This maybe a sensitive topic, but note that I do not mean any judgement, I just want to hear your thoughts.


(SeanO) #2

@AlphaOmega Thank you for sharing your vocational crossroads. May the Lord Jesus open doors that no man can shut and shut doors that no man can open as He guides you.

There are Christians who stand on both sides of this issue, so I think it is a matter of conscience where you must study the alternative viewpoints and come to your own conclusion. Below I have provided articles both for and against serving in the armed forces. I respect my brothers and sisters on either side of this issue.

Could you not go to a community college for a few years and then transfer to Uni? I have friends who have done that here in the US. They’ll work a job to pay the rent while they attend community college and then transfer to a larger university once they have their grades up. It’s easier to get in that way rather than straight from high school in some cases.

I think the only advice I would offer is that it sounds like you’ve narrowed yourself down to two options - military or straight to Uni. Perhaps there are other options? Like community college or other things in your area I would not be aware of…

Christ grant you wisdom, guide you and keep you safe :slight_smile:

An Affirmative View

Some reasons given for an affirmative view.

  • The NT does not condemn serving in the military
  • the Bible suggests killing is warranted in certain circumstances
  • God has authorized governments to ‘bear the sword’
  • the sword can be wielded for justice and love
  • there is a time for peace and a time for war

Just War Theory

Just war theory attempts to elucidate precisely when it is okay to go to war.

https://www.equip.org/article/just-war-tradition/

Christian Pacifism

A few points for Christian pacifism include:

  • Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world - we are citizens of God’s Kingdom first
  • nonviolent resistance is a courageous alternative
  • we are called to love our enemies and die as Jesus did - our mandate is the cross

There are at least three other views of war held by the modern Christian church. One is that war is the lesser of two evils, and we cannot avoid it as an option. Another is that we turn to war only as a last resort. And another is that the Christian should be able to move beyond hate and kill in love. But from my perspective the issue is not answered by any of these, rather it is to be faced by the people of God on the basis of the character of his kingdom.

Furthermore, in viewing the question from the standpoint of our responsibility to our own nation, it appears impossible that there could be such a thing as a “just war” in a nuclear age with a world community. The arguments for a just war in history appear to be quite irrelevant in an age of modern, mechanized and nuclear warfare. But, theologically, the Christian must also face the meaning of the biblical affirmation, “as he is so are you in the world,” or again the words of Jesus, “as the Father has sent me, even so send I you” [Jn. 20:21]. Ours is a mission of announcing the good news of reconciliation to God, and through him to one another.

(MLK) King’s philosophy is expressed in five points: (1) Nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards. It takes more strength to stand for love than to strike back. (2) Such resistance does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win friendship and understanding. (3) The attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against the people doing the evil. (4) Nonviolent resistance is a willingness to accept suffering without retaliation, to accept blows from the opponent without striking back. (5) This resistance avoids not only external physical force, but also internal violence of spirit.

As Christians we regard membership in the kingdom of Christ as our primary loyalty. Such an outlook is even more basic to the New Testament than the principle of love. Jesus himself said that he came to introduce another kingdom. Its spirit is one of love, but its platform of operation is loyalty to another Lord, an authority separate from any earthly power. This premise, which says that our primary loyalty is to the kingdom of heaven, underscores the fact that we answer first of all to Jesus Christ and his mandate alone.


(Matt Western) #3

Hi Sean,
Great post, and I like how you’ve included when is war just or right. If someone vulnerable is being hurt by another in society, and we individually have the power to do something to help the victim, and we do nothing then we are wrong for standing by while evil triumphs. This then applies to countries intervening in other countries, when the entire system is corrupted by a dictator who ruthlessness eliminates fellow citizens, or commits human rights violations etc, and once diplomacy has failed. It’s a very complex subject, and I’m glad I don’t have responsibility to make these type of decisions.

Also we have in Australia

  • University which the entrance requirements for a certain courses need an ATAR school, the result of completing year 12.
  • TAFE which is the equivalent to a community college but there’s no paid options as such. It’s possible to do TAFE I believe and use completed Diploma to use as Uni credits for a degree
  • then we have apprenticeships which are paid work to learn a trade, and you generally do TAFE subjects as part of your trade apprentice ship.

(SeanO) #4

@matthew.western Great to know! Something like TAFE would be an alternative - or even an apprenticeship. With the rising cost of college, some people are advocating learning a trade. May the Lord grant @AlphaOmega wisdom to navigate this decision.


(Matt Western) #5

Indeed. And in Australia you can make good money doing a trade - in some cases higher than the so called white collar professions who are gradually being eliminated by IT. They are saying AI will replace the white collar workers faster than trades because you can’t get a robot to wire a house or install plumbing.

I didn’t do uni, but did a one year course with a community training college (who have since gone out of business), then used credits to do Tafe, and got an entry level IT job.

You can also get into University as a mature age student, once you turn 21 I think.

I actually think that Universities are at fault for selling useless degrees that don’t get you a job and put people into debt, but I’m biased because I didn’t do University. I have friends who’ve completed parts of degrees or even whole degrees in things like graphic design and are in debt with student loans and have been unable to get work in the field in which they studied.

Oops, got rather off topic for this forum, I’m passionate about young people getting a start in life., :slight_smile:


(SeanO) #6

@matthew.western Thank you for sharing your journey. I think that is helpful in making decisions. I agree that graduating with massive debt and without clear job prospects is a problem rather than a solution.


(Lleyton Herb) #7

I would like to go further and ask; is the pledge of allegiance or loyalty to defending a country viewed as wrong in the eyes of God? I realize that doing this to purely pledge allegiance over God in a stark situation is wrong. I wonder if this issue is one of intent rather than action, which could ensure that it is based upon the person not the tradition per say.


(Matt Western) #8

That’s a great question and I’ll be interested in others responses specifically to a pledge of allegiance to a country.

Could the question be expanded to ask is it wrong to support an organization or boss that is secular and systematically going against what’s explicitly stated in God’s word. It’s not reasonable to expect a secular boss to behave like a Christian, but where to draw the line is sometimes difficult.

Ie: if i have a boss that asks me to directly lie for him, how do I deal with this situation as a Christian.

Do you see any difference between taking a pledge of allegiance to a country and supporting an organization? Both are groups with a certain ethos. I could not with a clear conscience work, even in a supporting role such as an electrician, IT support or whatever, in the adult industry because it’s main purpose to to produce material that is against God’s word, and in a way that exploits and degrades humans…

And then it depends on the country in which you live. Would I have a problem making a pledge of allegiance to Hitler? yes I would. . Would I have a problem making a pledge of allegiance to Australia (where I live), probably not because generally speaking the country system as a whole is looking to promote individual freedom of speech, freedom of religion and basic human rights.

And based on the country in which you live - this then ties back into Sean’s point of do you take a pacifist approach if you live in a bad country, or are ok with an affirmative approach if you live in a good country, or in the case of Hitler’s Germany do you work against your own country such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer. One of the Aussie war heros is Simpson and his donkey, he was a pacifist in world war 1 who did not agree on the war, but joined in and saved lives for his country.

It’s actually quite a difficult question to consider - and the more I think about it the better I realize your question is. It’s a real thought provoker :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I like theBibleProject video callled ‘The Way of the Exile’, in relation to ‘How do Christians live in a broken society?’, and if there is a problem I see ‘How is the Biblical way to address these issues?’, which ties into the New Testament teaching about ‘Being in the world, but not of the world’ mentioned in Romans 12:1-2
(https://www.gotquestions.org/in-but-not-of-world.html)

If you are keen, John Lennox book on ‘Against the Flow, Inspiration from Daniel in an Age of Relativism’ is really good. I loved this one.

I hope this is helpful? :slight_smile:


(SeanO) #9

@LleytonH58 The issue of taking the pledge may be one of conscience and, as you said, the intent of the individual making the pledge. One man may simply intend to express support for his nation because it has provided him the freedom to worship God and provide for his family. Another man may mean by it that his nation is ultimate and every other concern must ultimately kneel before the cause of nationalism - pride in one’s country is the chief thing. The former person would simply be showing appreciation, the latter offering praise to his god.


(ThomasHeld) #10

Hi A.O.,

Congrats on getting out of High School! It may not seem like it now, but life is about to open many “possible option(s)” for you. So, may the Lord guide, bless and keep you as you walk through His creation.

“Can one still serve Christ whilst fighting/serving in the army?” First, let me share with you that my oldest son serves in the U.S. Military. The educational, occupational, health benefits are excellent. I assume the Brits are similar, so if you go that way and work hard, doors will open for you.

Of course serving and fighting are not the same thing. Is there a Christian worldview that definitely answers the question? Not really, as Sean pointed out there are different viewpoints. So, from my grey beard perspective, allow me to recast the question:

Where would this world be right now, if Christian men (and women) had not fought and died defeating the evil manifested in this world? How much Christian blood has been shed over the centuries to protect our rights to worship Jesus (or any false god) and live freely?

The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19), and his minions would gladly destroy everything and every Christian in this world if given the chance. Like wise, how could Israel protect herself against the enemies that lust to destroy her, if she didn’t have the earthly protection of a strong military?

If someone were to say to my son, or any of the untold number of Christians in the military, “Hey, you don’t serve Christ because you’re in the military,” that would be an incredibly foolish and judgmental statement. It’s what’s in your heart by grace that serves Jesus, not the fact that you’re in the military or not.

Yes, there have been horrible misuses of military might since the beginning of time, but as I alluded to earlier, where would we be right now, if it were not for the Men and Women of God who stood-up when the Lord of hosts mustered the army for battle? (Isaiah 13:4)

So if you choose to join the Army, prepare to work hard - and work for the Lord always! God bless.


(Lleyton Herb) #11

Thank you very much for joining me in the thought process. Your response had been very valuable to me.


(Lleyton Herb) #12

*has been very valuable


(Barbara) #13

Why I am not a Pacifist by C.S. Lewis

This will supply you with plenty to think about. C.S. Lewis will challenge you to understand the truth within each conflict. Now if you watch it through once and are like ???.. you are not alone. He has so much insight it can seem overwhelming. I like to go over anything difficult at least 3 times asking God each time to help me understand more clearly the message. This is a doodle video which helps if you are a visual learner as I am.

May God Bless you in your search for truth.


(ThomasHeld) #14

Hi - You may find this insight from Ravi, helpful. God bless.


(Barbara) #15

Thank you Tom for the video.


(Ken Rose) #16

Greetings Alpha,

I am a U.S. Army veteran of 24-yrs, I served 1-tour in Afghanistan, and I’m a Christian. I say this not to boast, rather for you to know who is giving their opinion. If you are able (physicly/mentally), can enter the service with a clear conscience if what you may be called to do, I recommend joining.

I realize I’m on one side of the issue that many Christains differ. I would offer the following points. Christ Himself held up a Roman Centurian for having the greatest faith He had everseen. A Centurian admitted He was the Son of God after seeing Him on the Cross. Peter visited a Centurian after being directed there by God, Peter learned the Centurian was a man of faith.

We had a saying when in the Army, I still use it. “God loves fools and Soldiers”. Soldiers understand committment, brotherly love, and recognize authority when they see it. Many outside of military service do not. I was not a great warrior or recieved medals of valor. But I wouldn’t trade my experiance, the friends I served with, or the knowledge how much God truly loved this soldier, sometimes a fool,…for anything.

God bless, I hope this helps… Ken