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Military Service and War

Military Service and War

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Military Service and War

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The way of God is the way of love, sacrifice and sharing (Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
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, 10). The teaching of God for an individual regarding the taking of human life is summed up in the Sixth Commandment, which says, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13 Exodus 20:13You shall not kill.
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). Jesus Christ repeated a great principle when He said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 Matthew 22:39And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
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). And the apostle Paul said, “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10 Romans 13:10Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
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).

Jesus stated, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight …” (John 18:36 John 18:36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
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). In the Old Testament period, Israel was a kingdom of this world yet with God as King. It exercised civil authority at God’s command—including the power of earthly warfare. That time and situation has ended.

The Church of God today is a spiritual nation—spiritual Israel. As Christians, we have come out of darkness, from the power of Satan to the power of the Kingdom of God (Acts 26:18 Acts 26:18To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
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; Colossians 1:11-13 Colossians 1:11-13 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, to all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness; 12 Giving thanks to the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
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).

That Kingdom is not found in any national governments today. Rather, we now have our citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20 Philippians 3:20For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:
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), being ambassadors of a kingdom that is yet to be established throughout this earth. Therefore we do not fight in earthly warfare.

Consider that if Christians had the responsibility of taking up arms for their respective countries, then a war between these countries would have Christians fighting other Christians—an obviously untenable circumstance, as Christ’s disciples are to be characterized by their love for one another (John 13:34-35 John 13:34-35 34 A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
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). And that, as already pointed out, means doing no harm (Romans 13:10 Romans 13:10Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
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).

We are to emulate the actions of Jesus (1 Peter 4:1 1 Peter 4:1For as much then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin;
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; 1 Peter 13-16). He did not respond in kind when He was reviled, and He did not threaten when He suffered. He suffered for doing good and endured it patiently because of His desire to please God (1 Peter 2:19-24 1 Peter 2:19-24 19 For this is thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when you be buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? but if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously: 24 Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.
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). He taught that to be angry with our brother can result in sin (Matthew 5:21-22 Matthew 5:21-22 21 You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
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). We are to love even our enemies and do good to those who hate us (Matthew 5:43-44 Matthew 5:43-44 43 You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
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). We are not to avenge ourselves; vengeance belongs to God (Romans 12:19 Romans 12:19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord.
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).

Our warfare as Christians is in the spiritual arena (Ephesians 6:10-20 Ephesians 6:10-20 10 Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Why take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
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). We do not war against flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3 2 Corinthians 10:3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
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) but against wicked spirits in high places (Ephesians 6:12 Ephesians 6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
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). We are to be faithful spiritual soldiers of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3-4 2 Timothy 2:3-4 3 You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
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). This is our calling in life. As such, a Christian must at times face a conflict between man’s laws and the laws of Almighty God. When that happens, the Christian must obey the laws of God, which always take precedence (Acts 5:29 Acts 5:29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
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; 1 Peter 2:13-14 1 Peter 2:13-14 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or to governors, as to them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
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).

In fact, we should try to avoid conflicts if we can (Romans 12:18 Romans 12:18If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men.
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), and joining the military is not conducive to that. In most countries, the military has its own rules and regulations. A person in the military is not free to decide what he or she can do, but is under the authority of superiors and must do what they say or risk severe consequences.

The wisest course of action is to refrain from putting oneself in such a position, since a person in the military is subject to its authority and may be called upon to take human life or violate other areas or principles of God’s law. Paul tells us not to become slaves of men (1 Corinthians 7:23 1 Corinthians 7:23You are bought with a price; be not you the servants of men.
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).

Therefore, the United Church of God, an International Association, supports the conscientious objection of its members to military service and war.