Can A Christian Join His Nation’s Armed Forces?

God’s People, Do Not Choose the Wrong Career – Part 2

The second part of a message that will provide some deep insights to every young man and young woman pondering their career path, and may even provide a new perspective to people who are already well-established in a profession or business.



A pastor I know closely has a son who is in the navy. Now this senior servant of God, every Sunday when he stands in the pulpit, reminds the flock entrusted to his care about their absolute need to keep God’s commandments. This, in essence, is his core message: ‘Don’t covet your neighbor’s donkey, or car, or wife, but love him as yourself; love your enemy, and pray for his protection in the time of war; don’t resist an evil person, but if he smacks you on the right jawbone, make it easy for him to do it on your left one too’, and other such expounded teachings based on what Jesus exhorted his disciples to do, as recorded in Matthew 5.

Now, I don’t know about the navy and other divisions of the armed forces in his country. But in my country, when a person joins the army or navy or air force, all his training is given with one purpose – to turn him into an effective serial killer, so he can shoot his enemy, or drown him or bring his aircraft down, before the enemy does it to him or to his ship or plane. And when that foe’s down and bleeding, look for another one to bite the dust.

A Christian who joins a nation’s armed forces finds himself in a dilemma not only when his enemy is pointing his kalashnikov at him. He knows very well that Paul has said ‘not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way’. And since he has to love his enemy as himself – which is, in fact, loving him even more than as a brother – he cannot even cast a caltrop on the ground to obstruct the passage of his enemy’s vehicle, lest the enemy fall and be bushwhacked.

There’s yet another area where a Christian in the armed forces will find himself in a quandary. Profanity.

Profanity is the main language of all soldiers. And if they cannot talk dirty, they cannot walk mighty before their mates. A clean-mouthed soldier or sailor, in the eyes of his commanding officer, just couldn’t crawl or swim his way out of any danger. As explained by one of the greatest military commanders in US history, General George S. Patton:

“When I want my men to remember something important, to really make it stick, I give it to them double dirty. It may not sound nice to some bunch of little old ladies at an afternoon tea party, but it helps my soldiers to remember. You can’t run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity. An army without profanity couldn’t fight its way out of a piss-soaked paper bag.’1

Patton was a firm believer in God and in the power of prayer, but he knew his beliefs alone could not make his men fight and kill like they should. He had to go beyond Christian principles if he had to win the war for America. And win mightily he did. So, what’s my point in writing this message, anyway?

That you cannot remain a Christian and an enemy disemboweler at the same time, no matter how patriotic your slaughtering may be in the sight of your nation. So if you cannot kill or even smack your enemy across the cheek, what else can do if you are already in it, or planning to enlist? You need to get down on your knees and pray until God shows you a way out. Perhaps, you can join as a non-combatant recruit…in the engineering, or logistics, or medical corps, or somewhere else where you need only wield a screw driver or a scalpel or a stretcher rather than a sten gun.

Now, someone might ask me, what happens to a nation’s defenses when all men start thinking like you and refuse to take up a bayonet or a gun? How will any nation then be able to have an army to defend itself from being invaded?

When a nation faces such situation that it cannot have enough recruits for its defense because most of its people are on their knees praying or away at church praising God, then that nation has no need of an army in the first place. Indeed, if Biblical examples are of any value for present times, even if there are only 10 true Christians in a city, the Lord God of hosts (meaning, ‘armies’) will guard it himself. But such situation has never happened since the time of ancient Israel – when all that the people had to do was blow trumpets and lift up their banners high and stand still, or walk around the enemy’s fortresses, and their Commander did the rest –  and I don’t think it is ever going to happen to any nation until Christ returns. So, don’t worry about your country not having enough people to shoot down its enemies. They have more than enough citizens any day whose scruples will not stand in their way of taking up arms for their nation.

As for you, child of God, fight all your battles on your knees, including the battle for the protection for your country. Love your enemy, but keep him at bay with your prayers so he doesn’t get your neighbor’s donkey or car or wife.


Pappa Joseph


1Remark to his nephew about his copious profanity, quoted in ‘The Unknown Patton’ (1983) by Charles M. Province, p. 184


CLICK HERE TO GO TO PART 3: ‘Professions and Businesses That Every Man and Woman of God Should Avoid’



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