Can a Christian man serve in the army and go to war?

Army soldier reading bible
Army soldier reading bible
I have received this question from a reader of the portal Moldova Creștină

To be a patriot is a wonderful thing, but how should you act when it’s your turn to serve in the army? Is it good for a Christian to go to prepare for the protection of his country and even to go to war if it is necessary? How can you explain the next verses? Does the verse from Ephesians 6:12 have dealings with the army, when it says: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” and then James 4:1What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”

The text from Ephesians speaks about the daily spiritual war of the Christian

Even if Apostle Paul uses the image of the Roman soldier and illustrates spiritual truths with every element of the soldier’s armor, the aim of this illustration is not to touch the subject of a Christian serving in the army or going to war. And then, even this image of the warrior is used in a positive way that urges us to follow the example of a good Roman soldier, namely:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10–18)(NASB)

The Lord Jesus Christ didn’t ask the soldiers to leave the army or not to go to war

The Bible relates us about more Roman soldiers who came to Jesus or asked for His help in a way or another one. The Lord Jesus never asked them to leave the army or not to go to war. Here is an example in this regard:

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment. (The Gospel of Matthew 8:5–13)(NASB)

John the Baptist didn’t ask the soldiers to leave the army

While John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing people…

Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.” (The Gospel of Luke 3:14)(NASB)

John the Baptist didn’t ask them to leave the army, but to live and to act rightly in the army in time of peace and in time of war. This is also applied to policemen, because Roman soldiers of those times had the function of the policemen from nowadays.

The apostles didn’t ask the soldiers to leave the army

After God took out Apostle Paul in a miraculous way from the prison from Philippi, the jailer believed in Jesus Christ, took Paul to his house and even in that night he and his house were baptized. But it is written nowhere in the Bible that Paul told him to leave his service. Then, when Peter went to the house of Cornelius and told him the message of the Gospel, he didn’t tell him to leave the army.

We have to respect the beliefs of those who chose to not carry weapons

I have once visited a memorial from the state Tennessee from United States of America. I was mostly impressed by a monument dedicated to those who chose to not carry weapons during the wars from their country. I don’t remember exactly the words written there, but I know that they expressed gratitude because these people were twice heroes, because they had faced the same danger, but they had chosen the right not to protect themselves in need. They were doctors, nurses on the battle field and many other troublesome services in the army that are very necessary in a war.

Many young people avoid the army because of the humiliation they suffer there

When I talked to those who are in the army of our country or who have been in the army before, they said that soldiers were very humiliated or maltreated by their elder mates, and some officers took them to do the work around their houses or to help building, and they didn’t train them the military art. Others say that to serve in the army means to let your health be destroyed by someone. I do not know how true this is, but I know that many young people avoid the army because they have this fear and many parents do not accept their sons to serve in the army having the same reasons. I also saw persons who gave “religious beliefs” as reasons to avoid the army, in fact, they fear the things I have mentioned above.

Translated by Felicia Djugostran