Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

GOVERNMENT

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Temporary Leave Pt. 2

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
I saw your post about “Temporary Leave”.  About the guy in the Army, I thought it was a sin for someone to join the Army; they kill people for no reason; the Bible says, “Thou shall not kill.”

Sincerely,
Peaceful

Dear Peaceful,

There is nothing wrong with being a soldier; some of the most faithful men in the Bible were soldiers and had to kill people in the defense of their country.  David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14), and yet, David killed many people as a soldier.  Jesus marveled at the faith of a centurion soldier (Matt 8:8-10).  The first Gentile convert was Cornelius, a well-known Roman soldier (Acts 10:22).  When a group of soldiers asked John the Baptist what they needed to do to live a faithful life, he told them to be honest and faithful… but he never told them to stop serving in the military (Lk 3:14).

Lord willing, most christian soldiers will never have to kill anyone, but if they did, it won’t be murder (read “Kill Or Be Killed” for more on that topic).  Being a soldier is an honorable profession.

 

Temporary Leave

Friday, April 13, 2018
My fiancé just joined the army and is going to basic training.  He is a member of the church of Christ, but there is only Catholic and Baptist services offered on Sundays, so he can't go to church during training.  Is this a sin?  He will miss about ten weeks of worship services.

Sincerely,
Concerned Fiancé

Dear Concerned Fiancé,

His situation is difficult, but not unique.  There have been many soldiers that have served Christ and country.  Cornelius the centurion was the first Gentile convert (Acts 10:1), soldiers asked John the Baptist how to be faithful (Lk 3:14), and another centurion humbly sought Christ’s help (Matt 8:9).  So take courage, you and your fiancé are not alone in your dilemma.

We consider his situation to be a 2 Cor 8:11 case.  He is accountable for what he is able to do.  If he is out in the middle of the deserts of Iraq, he is physically unable to make it to worship services.  Therefore, he is not condemned for that which he cannot do.  An analogous situation would be a mute Christian; he is commanded to confess Christ with his lips (Rom 10:9), but nobody expects a mute man to do this because he physically unable.  If your fiancé is able to make it to services – DO IT.  If he can’t attend, he should do what he can – pray (1 Thess 5:17) and study (2 Tim 2:15) on his own.  We recommend that he ask some christians that are veterans of the military for tips and advice on what they did to make it through those times where they were unable to make it to services.

 

For Safety Of Hearth And Home

Thursday, January 04, 2018
Is using deadly force ever justifiable in defense of self or family?  If there were ever a situation where there was complete societal breakdown (no government or police), food and water became scarce, and armed looters and gangs searching for food became a real threat to your family, would you be morally responsible to defend your family by any means necessary?  Would God expect you to turn the other cheek or fight for survival?

Sincerely,
Getting Prepared

Dear Getting Prepared,

When the Bible commands us to not kill, the word used for ‘kill’ is the word that we would use for ‘murder.  Some of the most faithful men in the Bible were soldiers and had to kill people in the defense of their country.  David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14), and yet David killed many people as a soldier.  Jesus marveled at the faith of a centurion soldier (Matt 8:8-10).  The first Gentile convert was Cornelius, a well-known Roman soldier (Acts 10:22).  When a group of soldiers asked John the Baptist what they needed to do to live a faithful life, he told them to be honest and faithful… but he never told them to stop serving in the military (Lk 3:14).  These are all examples of the difference between murder and self-defense (or war-time killing).

In the Old Testament, God made specific rules that allowed an individual to kill if they were defending their home or family (Ex 22:2).  In Lk 22:35-39, Jesus tells His disciples that persecution will begin after He leaves and that they ought to “buy a sword” – this is certainly an endorsement of self-defense.  All of these point to the fact that God distinguishes between defensive force and vigilante murder.

Reporting For Duty

Friday, December 08, 2017
If a member of a church of Christ goes to a military branch, ends up fighting in a war, and kills men, will he still be a member of the church? And will he still be okay spiritually?

Sincerely,
Sgt. Unknown

Dear Sgt. Unknown,

There is nothing wrong with being a soldier; some of the most faithful men in the Bible were soldiers and had to kill people in the defense of their country.  David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14), and yet David killed many people as a soldier.  Jesus marveled at the faith of a centurion soldier (Matt 8:8-10).  The first Gentile convert was Cornelius, a well-known Roman soldier (Acts 10:22).  When a group of soldiers asked John the Baptist what they needed to do to live a faithful life, he told them to be honest and faithful… but he never told them to stop serving in the military (Lk 3:14).

Lord willing, most christian soldiers will never have to kill anyone, but if they did, it won’t be murder (read “Kill Or Be Killed” for more on that topic).  Being a soldier is an honorable profession.

Given The Sword

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Is the death penalty wrong? The Ten Commandments say "thou shalt not kill”.

Sincerely,
Life Preserver

Dear Life Preserver,

Let’s address the death penalty case first, and then we will look at the “thou shalt not kill” argument.  God has given the government the authority to issue capital punishment upon criminals.  God told Israel to stone wicked people in certain circumstances (Lev 20:27).  Paul says that God gives governments “the sword”; they are a minister of God and an avenger of wrath to those that do evil (Rom 13:4).

The Hebrew word used for ‘kill’ in the Ten Commandments literally means ‘murder’.  There is a difference between killing someone in self-defense and the intentional murder of another human being.  The Bible has plenty of examples of faithful people going to war (David killed Goliath in battle – 1 Sam 17:49-50).  The Bible is also full of examples of capital punishment for certain crimes (Num 15:35).  Num 35:15-16 makes a distinction between accidentally killing someone and murder.  A police officer may have to kill someone while serving the community, but that isn’t murder.  A government may have to execute a criminal to protect society and perform justice, but that isn’t murder.  “Thou shalt not kill” is a command for individuals (not governments) that prohibits the reckless and purposeful destruction of human life.

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