First, Happy Memorial Day! Best wishes for a safe day that honors the sacrifices of our servicemembers, both past and present.
As we reflect today on what our armed forces have accomplished over the past two-plus centuries, it’s important to validate that war, when necessary, is theologically acceptable by God. Those that oppose war have often taken one of The 10 Commandments, “No murder” (often quotes from the KJV as ‘Thou shalt not kill’) as a means of decrying war. I don’t believe, based on scripture, that killing during war is murder. Remember, as I mentioned in the dinosaurs article, we can’t bend The Bible to fit our viewpoints; we must take scripture as we find it. Let’s look together and see what is actually there that supports that killing during war is not murder.
God has ordered humankind to go to war in the interest of advancing His will. 1 Samuel 15:1-3 says the following:
Samuel said to Saul, “GOD sent me to anoint you king over his people, Israel. Now, listen again to what GOD says. This is the GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies speaking:
“I’m about to get even with Amalek for ambushing Israel when Israel came up out of Egypt. Here’s what you are to do: Go to war against Amalek. Put everything connected with Amalek under a holy ban. And no exceptions! This is to be total destruction—men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys—the works.”
This is not the only example of God instructing humankind to go to war. In Deuteronomy 20:10-18, Moses delivers his Plains of Moab sermon at the river Jordan, where he tells the Israelites the following words from God:
“When you come up against a city to attack it, call out, ‘Peace?’ If they answer, ‘Yes, peace!’ and open the city to you, then everyone found there will be conscripted as forced laborers and work for you. But if they don’t settle for peace and insist on war, then go ahead and attack. GOD, your God, will give them to you. Kill all the men with your swords. But don’t kill the women and children and animals. Everything inside the town you can take as plunder for you to use and eat—GOD, your God, gives it to you. This is the way you deal with the distant towns, the towns that don’t belong to the nations at hand. But with the towns of the people that GOD, your God, is giving you as an inheritance, it’s different: don’t leave anyone alive. Consign them to holy destruction: the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, obeying the command of GOD, your God. This is so there won’t be any of them left to teach you to practice the abominations that they engage in with their gods and you end up sinning against GOD, your God.”
Clearly, God has a clear separation between murder and killing in war. Murder, even by today’s governmental laws, is defined as killing with malice aforethought, or the pre-planned killing of an innocent person. War is an entirely different matter. War is meant to create, protect, and preserve peace, making it necessary when the lives of many can be saved through the tyranny of evildoers. Ecclesiastes 3:8 says, “There is a right time to wage war and another to make peace.” Could you imagine how many more lives would have been lost if Hitler had not been stopped? How many more innocent Americans would have been killed if Osama Bin Laden had not been stopped? The innocent deserve mercy, and God wants it for them.
If you serve, have ever served, or intend to serve, let your conscience be clear. The United States is a nation founded on Christian values. When we follow our Pledge of Allegiance, to be one nation, under God, we are truly indivisible. Whatever killing was required during war to keep our Christian land safe and to extend its protections to others around the world is not seen as murder by God. The Bible tells us so. As God said in Matthew 25:21, “Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.”
As we honor the sacrifices of our servicemembers today, especially those that made the ultimate sacrifice, know that they are in Heaven with our creator. They have done their Christian duty and, perhaps, the highest Christian duty one person can do for another: selflessness. God loves people that are selfless, and unquestionably, they are now and forevermore rewarded with life eternal with the Father. I hope that this knowledge brings you some solace if you have lost a loved one to war.
Today, let’s pray for:
- the safety of our servicemembers, both home and abroad
- comfort for the families that live daily without them
- for quick, decisive ends to conflict, with mercy for all involved
- and for the families that grieve the loss of their loved ones that gave their lives for our greater good
May God bless you, now and always.