Q What are the Biblical reasons compelling a Christian to refuse to participate in military service and war?


A There are different Biblical principles involved. We believe that the following will best express our religious convictions against participating in military service and war:

A true Christian is a stranger, alien and exile (1 Peter 2:11; Hebrews 11:13) while here on earth; an ambassador for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20); and a representative of God’s kingdom. As such, and in being a light to the world by proper conduct (Matthew 5:14-16), a true Christian does not take part in this world’s governmental or political affairs, because it is not God who presently rules this world, but Satan the devil (Revelation 2:13; Luke 4:5-6). Christians are admonished to come out of the governmental and political systems of this world (Revelation 18:4).

Romans 12:17-21 tells us that we have to overcome evil with good; that we are not to avenge ourselves; and that we even give food and drink to our enemies if we find them in need. Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:27-28 command us to love our enemies. This tells us that we cannot fight or kill our enemies. We are told, in Romans 14:19 and in 1 Peter 3:11, to pursue the things which lead to peace. We are called to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9; James 3:18).

John the Baptist told Roman soldiers to “do violence to no man” (Luke 3:14, Authorized Version). He was showing man how to live in peace (Luke 1:79). Jesus Christ came to preach peace (Acts 10:36), as man does not know the way to peace (Luke 19:41-42; Romans 3:17), living, instead, the way that brings
about bloodshed and war (Romans
3:10-18). Christ will return to make an end to war (Psalm 46:9). He will scatter all those who delight in war (Psalm 68:28-30). After His return, all will learn how to live in peace, and there will be no more wars (Isaiah 2:2-4). Weapons of war will be destroyed (Hosea 2:18). At that time, there will be no end to the increase of peace (Isaiah 9:7).

Today, as ambassadors of Christ, we are to proclaim peace and reject any kind of war (Isaiah 52:7). We read in James 4:1-4 that wars originate with man’s sinful and carnal desires, which MUST be overcome. We must live today the way of peace, the way that all of mankind will learn to live after Christ’s return. Christ told Peter to put his sword away (Matthew 26:52). We are warned that all those who use the sword will perish by it (Revelation 13:10; compare 2 Samuel 2:26). Christ told His disciples that they were not following God’s instructions when they wanted to destroy their enemies (Luke 9:54-56). Christ told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world, and therefore, His servants would not fight (John 18:36). Paul confirmed that Christ’s followers are not to fight (2 Corinthians 10:3-4; Ephesians 6:12). We find that Satan is the one who deceives man to believe that he should fight in war (Revelation 20:7-10).

It is true that in Old Testament times ancient Israel fought in war. This, however, was sin. God never intended that Israel should fight! Israel chose to fight, lacking the faith that God could help them in times

of need (Exodus 17:7; Psalm 78:41). Since man is a free moral agent, God does not force man not to sin. God made it clear, however, that Israel was not to fight. He told Israel in Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” God intended to bring Israel into the Promised Land by driving out the enemies, using hornets in several cases (Exodus 23:27-28; Deuteronomy 7:17-22; Joshua 24:12). When Israel did rely on God, then God did intervene for them and fight their battles. They did not have to fight (2 Chronicles 20:1-30; 2 Chronicles 32:1-23).

David also fought in war, but this, too, was sinful. God punished David with continued wars because of his murder of Uriah and his adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:9-10). Subsequently, God did not allow David to build a temple because he had shed blood in war (1 Chronicles 22:6-10; 1 Chronicles 28:2-3; 1 Kings 5:2-5). God punished David again at the end of his life when he numbered his army, intending to fight in war (2 Samuel 24:1-17; 1 Chronicles 21:1-30).

It is true that God, at times, ordered Israel to fight certain wars. This did not make war right. Israel had chosen to fight in war, as Israel later chose to have a king. God had foreseen that this would happen (compare Genesis 36:31). He gave them their king (1 Samuel 8:22; 9:17), stating, at the same time, that their request for a king was sinful (1 Samuel 8:7, 19; 10:19; 12:13, 19-20). God allowed divorce in Old Testament times because of the hardness of people’s hearts, but it was not God’s intent that people should divorce (Matthew 19:3-9). Since God’s purpose must stand, and since
God promised Abraham, unconditionally, to bring his descendants into the Promised Land (Genesis
15:18-21; 22:15-18), God determined the outcome of those wars that Israel wanted to fight.

Rather than killing our enemies, we are to do them good, if it is within our power to do so. Elisha acted in that way, as recorded in 2 Kings 6:14-23, and lasting peace was the result. When we are confronted with aggression, we need to pray to God to give us strength not to violate His law by killing the aggressors. God will not allow that we are overtaken by a temptation that is too difficult for us to handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). If there is an opportunity, we can hide or escape from our enemies, as Christ did (John 10:39). Christ never fought in war, nor did He ever commit violence to any man. Neither did the early apostles and disciples after their conversion. Neither must we today. God has not changed! God promises us protection from our enemies when we do what He commands (Genesis 35:1-5; Exodus 34:22-24). If God were to choose not to protect us in a given situation, for whatever reason, we must still not violate His law by killing another human being. Rather, we must have the faith and act as Daniel’s three friends did, when Nebuchadnezzar threw them into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:14-18).

Since it is God who commands us not to kill (Exodus


), we must not violate His law by taking the life of another human being, for ANY reason. We must, therefore, not kill in war, nor enter the military to carry arms, or serve as combatants. We would be able to perform alternate service work under civilian direction, when required by law.

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