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Christian Soldiers and Situational Righteousness

By Leo Tolstoy

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be

made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered

in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body

but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul

and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:26-28)

“Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’”

(Acts 5:29)


So here you are a soldier, you have been trained to obey without question, to shoot, stab, march, read manuals on weapons, survival, and have been through military exercises and paraded before dignitaries by those who have been through wars before you. It probably did not even enter your mind to ask yourself whether what you were doing was good or bad.

Now imagine, without notice, the command comes to your company or squadron to prepare for action using live ammunition. You travel, without knowing where you are being taken. You are delivered to a town or school, and you see from a distance that a crowd of local people are in an open square – factory workers, students, men, women with children, old men and women. The governor and other civil authorities, accompanied by policemen, are talking to the crowd and the people about something. The crowd is at first silent, then the people begin to cry out louder and louder, and protest placards are raised, and the officials step back and separate from the crowd. You see that these common people, students, and factory workers are riotous and that you have been brought there to pacify them. The officials walk up to the people and walk away again, but the shouts grow louder and louder. The officials talk among themselves, and you are commanded to load your weapon with live ammunition. You see before you regular people, the same as you used to be: men in suit coats, blue-jeans, and tennis shoes; women in scarfs and jackets, the kind of clothing that your mom, dad, and wife or sister might wear. You are ordered to fire the first shot over their heads, but the people do not disperse and the shouts get louder than before. Then you are given the order to shoot, not over their heads, but straight into the crowd.

You have been taught that you are to obey without thought and that you, in concert with others, are not responsible for the results of your firing, but you know that the man who, wallowing in blood, fell down from your bullet and was killed by you and no one else; and you know that if you would not have shot, the person would not have been killed.

What are you to do in this situation?

It is not enough for you to lay down your weapon and refuse to kill your brothers. Tomorrow the same could be repeated across county, state or international lines, and so, whether you wish it or not, you must consider the situation and ask yourself what this calling of a soldier really is, which has brought you to such a state that you are commanded to shoot at unarmed civilians.

What does the Gospel say? It says that we must not only not kill our brothers, but also that we must not do what leads to murder, i.e., that we must not be angry with our brothers, and that we must love our enemies instead of hating them. In the Law of Moses, it says distinctly, “Thou shalt not kill,” without any explanations as to who may be killed and who may not. But, in the rules that you have been taught, it says that a soldier must obey any command of his superior. In the official explanation, given by the Church and the state, of the sixth commandment, they are told that, though the commandment forbids killing, he who kills in war does not sin against God. On the contrary, you are told that you must kill because you have taken the oath, and are led to believe that the leaders, and not you, are responsible for your actions. But before you swore an oath, before you made a promise to mere men to do their will, you were, even without an oath, under orders to do the will of God, of Him who gave men life – God has commanded us not to kill.

Thus it was wrong of you to swear that you would do everything demanded of you by men. For this reason, it says directly in the Gospel (Matthew 5:34), “Do not swear at all… Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’ Anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” And the same is said in James 5:12: “Above all, my brothers, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else.” Thus the oath itself is a sin. And when they lead you to believe that not you, but the authorities, will be responsible for your acts, it is a lie.

Can your conscience be in the sergeant, captain, colonel, president or anybody else, and not in yourself? Nobody can decide for you what you can and must do, and what you cannot and must not do. A man is always responsible for what he does. Adam, so the Bible tells, sinned against God and then said that his wife had told him to eat the forbidden fruit and that the devil had tempted her. God justified neither Adam nor Eve and told them that Adam would be punished for having listened to the voice of his wife and that his wife would be likewise punished for having obeyed the serpent. He did not free them but punished them. Will not God say the same to you, when you kill a man and say that your captain commanded you to do so? Thus, by killing on the command of your superiors, you are as much a murderer as the robber who kills a merchant in order to buy drugs. The robber is tempted by the money, and soldiers are tempted by the desire to win medals or the praise of patriotism. A man himself will always answer for his acts before God. No power on earth can make of you, a living man, a puppet that can be handled by others. Christ taught men that they are sons of God, and so a Christian cannot make his conscience subject to the power of another man, no matter what his title might be.

The simple fact is that these men, who have taken charge of you, are cheats, and that therefore, you must not obey them. More shameful than the harlot, whose master controls her body, is the soldier whose master commands him to commit murder.

Consequently, the Christian who wants to live a Godly life must give up the disgraceful and the godless calling of a soldier.

5 replies on “Christian Soldiers and Situational Righteousness”

What you say makes no sense. You would not have a Bible, or the freedom to write this passage if not for war and valiant men giving there life for your freedom. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. If you live in a country, then you are just as guilty as the soldier that pulled the trigger. I was a full time soldier for the USA for 7 yrs, and I was never told to pull the trigger on any civilian, but quite the opposite. I am a Christian, and a warrior for the Lord, but you are way confused. God has been using men like me for thousands of years and will continue to do so. You would be a muslim or dead right now if not for Constintine. I don’t hate you, I just think you are an idiot, and a coward. You are also very judgmental of the people that are defending your cowardly but. Jesus died for all that believes in him, even soldiers.


Thank you for your response. I do appreciate it when those who disagree with me tell me why they disagree and especially so when they do it using Scripture.

Believe it or not, I used to agree with you. I voluntarily spent two full years in Viet Nam ’68 and ’69 so I am not a coward as you suppose. The words I have written here I have not written lightly, they come through much study of Scripture and prayer and are directed to the “Christian” who seeks truth above appearances and popularity. Unfortunately, the majority do not want the truth they want justification for their actions and read into Scriptures the justification they seek. The Bible teaches that a mark of end-times Christianity would be that “good will become evil and evil good,” and that is precisely what we find among Christianity today.

You said, “What you say makes no sense. You would not have a Bible or the freedom to write this passage if not for war and valiant men giving their life for your freedom.” This is not true. Americans are trained to believe that “freedom” is something that the state gives them and whenever they see the word “freedom” they associate it with the military and lethal force. The freedom the state provides is just another kind of slavery and is not the freedom Christ gives us. In all periods of history, true Christians have been free; it was not something guaranteed to them by the government; they were even free to be killed by their own governments for exercising their true Christian freedom given to them by Christ and new-birth. At the same time, that true Christians were being hunted down and destroyed by both the Catholics and the Protestants and the governments they supported, a small number of true believers were giving up their homes and belongings to escape persecution and to follow the lowly Jesus who also gave everything for them. The freedom given by Christ is a birthright and not something won at the end of a gun and cannot be taken away by the threat of death or poverty. You don’t give Christ much credit by believing the freedom He gave can only be maintained by force when it just the exact opposite.

What I have said makes perfect sense but only from a born-again standpoint. from the viewpoint of the world, it makes no sense whatever, but that is what Christ has called us to. Popular Christianity of today is not the Christianity of the Bible, it is the Christianity of businessmen and the Devil. The Christianity of today has more to do with marketing, business plans, and profitability than with following Jesus. The valiant men are those who fearlessly follow the Lamb without gun, knives, or bombs. Do you remember what Paul’s said that “Our warfare is not carnal but spiritual, we don’t war against flesh and blood…” These words are conveniently forgotten for the sake of waving a flag, military pride, and medals of honor.

Yes, Jesus did die for all who believe and He said, “Why do you call Me Lord and do not the things I have commanded you.” The Devil also believes in Jesus.

Thanks for your response, Steve. As for the world’s hatred, you well know the Divine response in John 15:18-27. As for Wesley and church history, the more I learn, the more I see how we continually follow the pattern of Israel, repeating the mistakes of the past…

Another post that is bound to enhance your popularity with the “itchy ear” crowd… On a somewhat related topic, I came across an internet article yesterday which stated that John Wesley opposed the American Revolution (citing Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13-17). The article was written by a Calvinist, attempting to discredit Wesley’s theology, but I was pleasantly surprised to read this. Have you heard of this, Steve?


Sometimes I wonder if my goal isn’t to see how many people I can get to hate me.

I have heard of Wesley”s protest against the colonist’s dispute with England but I wouldn’t conclude that he was nonresistant. I think he understood, and rightly so, that the English tax on the colonies was justified and that the people were not being given all the facts of the matter and that war was not necessary. That is length and depth of my knowledge on the matter.

Steve B.

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