In the face of unrelenting war and military actions that span globally, Christians are confronted with a difficult moral dilemma. Is it possible for Christians today to devote themselves to both God and to a civil authority that authorizes the death and destruction of other people?
Christians are known for their love of country, which is demonstrated on a daily basis in the way they uphold American and family values. But what of the young Christian man who wants to serve his country and is called up to fight in war he believes to be unjust? Does he consciously object, risking prosecution, or does he respect his authority as the bible commands him to do? If he does fight, would that be unbiblical of him?
According to biblical doctrine, governments are established by God and are needed because of man’s immoral character. In this context, government officials are seen as servants of God and are called upon to protect the citizenry from harm. As Christians, we are to be compliant to government as the higher authority and demonstrate our respect for all legitimate institutions of government.
But, when the government acts immorally, a Christian patriot must decide between possible disobedience to the civil authority and the covenant he has with God as the highest ruler. Alternatively, he can carry out his responsibility as a servant to God by communicating with others that a clear edict of God has been breached.
The conundrum for Christians doesn’t end with an immoral government. In many Christian houses of worship, Christians are faced with the hypocrisy of a church that blesses its troops and the country’s leaders yet has no prayer for the human suffering that is the natural result of war. Christians do support the troops, as they should, and they offer prayers for their protection as well as for the military leaders that guide them.
As servants of God, and especially where the cause for killing is deemed unjust, shouldn’t Christians be praying for the suffering innocents of all sides of the conflicts? There is plenty of scripture that dictates that prayer also be offered to our enemies, yet we seldom hear those prayers.
A Christian’s Patriotic Responsibility
With the inordinate amount of government scandal, corruption and intrusion on freedoms, the citizenry couldn’t be faulted if they ran and hid under a rock. Patriotic Christians, however, are called upon to speak for God and be His gentle and respectful force to counter the silence given to all forms of war’s suffering. And, they must do so at the risk of persecution and ridicule by their government and those with hardened hearts or lapses of conscience.
There is no more patriotic act of conscience than the casting of one’s vote. Christians who believe in the orthodoxy that war is sinful must work to discourage leadership that freely espouses war as a means to peace. When the government acts, in accordance with its constitutional dictates, to protect its citizens from imminent danger, there is allowance for the use of force. However, it is inherent within the Christian ethos to elect those officials that uphold the strictest standards for the use of force.
All Christians recognize that people and their governments are not perfect, and that they are placed on this earth throughout the institutions of learning, prayer, commerce and authority to act as instruments for peace and good. It is incumbent upon all Christians to prayerfully consider the will of God and to keep all people and circumstances before God in prayer.