While much has been written and discussed about the political, financial and human costs of war, little has been said regarding the involvement of Christians in armed conflict. There are some that say a Christian has no place in any conflict that may involve the taking of a life. They would suggest that to kill is murder regardless of the circumstance. Others spend no time thinking about it at all afraid of the conclusion they would be forced to draw. Still some see no problems with the Christian in combat and take comfort in the warriors found in scripture.
This is, of course, a subject that I am personally interested in which caused the following quote from C.S. Lewis to resonate with me. Many of my friends have experienced the taking of life while in combat and now live with the question, “was it right?” This quote is not in any way exhaustive but does provide a good perspective.
“Does loving your enemy mean not punishing him? No, for loving myself does not mean that I ought not to subject myself to punishment-even to death. If one had committed a murder, the right Christian thing to do would be to give yourself up to the police and be hanged. It is, therefore, in my opinion, perfectly right for a Christian judge to sentence a man to death or a Christian solider to kill an enemy. I always have thought so, ever since I became a Christian, and long before the war, and I still think so now that we are at peace. It is no good quoting “Thou shalt not kill.” There are two Greek words: the ordinary word to kill and the word to murder. And when Christ quotes the commandment He uses the murder one in all three accounts, Mathew, Mark, and Luke. And I am told there is the same distinction in Hebrew. All killing is not murder any more than all sexual intercourse is adultery. When soldiers came to St John the Baptist asking what to do, he never remotely suggested that they ought to leave the army: nor did Christ when He met a Roman sergeant-major-what they called a centurion. …We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy it.”
Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. Macmillian Publishers, 1952. Print.
Jeremy Stalnecker Executive Director – Mighty Oaks Warrior Foundation