“A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction.” (Jer. 50:22)
No doubt, there are many and sundry reasons for believing that it is wrong to be in the military and, subsequently, to be engaged in warfare. The most often stated reason is: “I believe it is wrong to kill or to take a human life in warfare. It is murder!”
In spite of the reasonableness of this popular argument, there are at least two undeniable realities: (1) War is a fact of life; and (2) Human Government is a necessity, both of which make it necessary for man to kill his fellow man. Now, we have a real problem! How do we solve it in the light of the Bible?
The Bible teaches that in creation, God brought order out of chaos. This is the Divine precedent and arrangement. God has said, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
God’s design is that all things should be submissive to His constituted order of things. This is demonstrated in several ways.
(1) Angels are to be subject to Christ (1 Pet. 3:22).
(2) Believers are to be subject to one another (1 Pet. 5:5).
(3) The Church is to be subject to Christ (Eph. 5:24).
(4) The Son is to be subject to the Father (1 Cor. 15:28).
(5) Servants are to be subject to masters (1 Pet. 2:18).
(6) Children are to be subject to parents (1 Tim. 3:4).
(7) Wives are to be subject to husbands (Col. 3:18).
(8) Young people are to be subject to elders (1 Pet. 5:5).
(9) Church members are to be subject to their pastors (Heb. 13:7,17; 1 Thess. 5:12-18; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Pet. 5:2).
(10) Citizens are to be subject to government.
YES, the Bible plainly teaches that citizens are to be submissive to the authority of the government! The importance of this truth is clearly emphasized at the mouth of at least three witnesses: the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul says in Romans 13:1-7 that: (1) governmental authority is ordained of God (vs. 1); (2) resistance to government is resistance to God (vs. 2); (3) the government is generally opposed to evil (vs. 4); and (4) our conscience tells us that we must obey (vs. 5; Titus 3:1; 1 Tim. 2:2).
The Apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 2:13-17 that: (1) obeying government shows our obedience to God (vs. 13); (2) obedience to government is the will of God (vs. 15); (3) it is part of a good testimony to the unsaved (vs. 15); (4) obedience to government is a service to God (vs. 16); and (5) obedience to all ordinances and rulers is the standard (vs. 17).
The Lord Jesus Christ says in Mark 12:17 that we are to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”
According to 2 Timothy 3:1-5, disobedience to the law of the land will increase in these last days, and those who violate God’s constituted order of things are guilty of anarchy and rebellion and will incur God’s wrath (1 Sam. 15:22-23; Rom. 13:1-2; Titus 3:1). The only exception to this is when the established authorities require a believer to disobey the laws of God, in which case, the believer is duty bound to disregard and disobey the government. Some examples of this are: (1) Peter in Acts 5:29; (2) Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3; (3) Daniel in Daniel 6; and (4) Paul in Acts 16:36-37. Here, Paul refused to leave (obey) the authorities until they apologized to Him. However, for the most part, punishment for disobedience, even in these cases, was not withheld (Heb. 11:35-37).
The question then, is, “Does an individual have the right to put his own will above that of the government and refuse to be inducted into military service?” I believe the answer is a resounding, “No!”!
The next question then, follows, “Are those members of our military forces, who may be engaged in warfare, guilty of murder?” Again, the answer is “No!”
When the Bible commands “Thou shall not kill” (Ex. 20:13), it is using the Hebrew word rotsakh which means to murder – not kill! This word is never used of animals, God, angels or of enemies killed in battle. There are ten Hebrew words translated “to kill,” but only rotsakh means “to murder.”
In Matthew 5:21, 19:18 and Romans 13:9, where Exodus 20:13 is quoted, the Greek word used is phoneuto and means to murder; and it is so translated in Matthew 19:18 also. There are seven Greek words translated “to kill,” but only phoneuto means “to murder.”
We have already pointed out that warfare is a fact of life and that it is here to stay in spite of man’s efforts to bring peace (Mt. 24:6-7; Mk. 13:7; Lk. 21:9). On the other hand, it is equally clear that God uses warfare to defeat the enemy and establish national peace (Josh. 11:23; 14:15; Jud. 3:11,30; 8:28). God also uses warfare to discipline wicked and sinful nations (Gen. 15:13-16, cf., Lev. 18:24-25; Josh. 6:17-21; Deut. 2:32-34; 7:2; Num. 21:33-35). Furthermore, there are times when it would be clearly wrong not to go to war. An example of this would be the City of Ai (Josh. 7:3, cf., 8:1), and at the river Jordan (Num. 32:6-32).
I believe warfare is of God! God has ordained and sanctioned it (1 Chron. 5:19-22)! Warfare is not murder! It is right to obey the government and to go to war and kill the enemy. No person has any right, in a justified war, to be a conscientious objector on either religious or moral grounds; to do so only contributes to the loss of freedom and does violence to God’s established order of things.
War is a horrible thing and every true American sincerely trusts that this nation may be saved from participation in any conflict unless it will save the nation from something worse. Every Christian preacher should be diligently proclaiming God’s saving message to lost sinners. They should be more interested in saving men from eternal perdition than in saving them from war. But pacifism on the part of Christians that interferes with the government’s preparations for defense against a “terrorist” nation is unscriptural.