There is a general perception that soldiers who fight in war never goes to heaven. The Bible addresses this important question and points that there is a clear difference between killing and murder. Murder is taking the life of an innocent person while killing is an act of judgment for an evil deed that was committed. The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13) refers to premeditated, unjustified murder.
The Bible teaches that governments must punish the evil doers by killing to maintain peace and order. And Christians as good citizens must submit to the laws of governments and be loyal to civil order.
But unlike the Old Testament wars that God justified as punishment for the wicked, in modern history, not all wars are justifiable. Therefore, much caution should be taken by the Christian who is contemplating serving in the military for he may be asked to do things that violate his conscious.
So, should the Christian shun military service?
The New Testament, doesn’t speak down at soldiering. Jesus commended the Centurion’s faith (Matthew 8:4-13). Further, neither John the Baptist nor Jesus ever told soldiers, “Get out” to be saved, or “Don’t join.” Rather, they admonished them to serve more faithfully (Luke 3:14).
During war or when there is a draft, the authorities should in no way change the Christian’s supreme allegiance and responsibility to God or modify his obligation to practice his beliefs and put God first.
Therefore, it is recommended to serve the state in roles that will save life rather than take life, preferably as a noncombatant. This service would be considered partnership with God through Jesus Christ who came into this world not to destroy men’s lives but to save it. It should be noted that noncombatant service requires great courage by the soldier who will tread on the battle field unarmed for the purpose of caring for the wounded and getting them safely out of the danger zone.
The extraordinary story of Desmond Doss – the conscientious objector – who enlisted in the army voluntarily in April 1942, but refused to carry a weapon into combat or kill an enemy soldier because of his Seventh-Day Adventist beliefs, demonstrated how he was successful in saving the lives of his comrades. And for his outstanding acts of heroism, President Harry Truman granted him the Medal of Honor – America’s highest military award, the first ever given to a conscientious objector.
In His service,