What do you think about disciples joining the military? There is a friend in my church who is in his early 20’s and recently became a Christian. He is a newlywed. For his specific situation we are strongly urging him that it is not a good idea spiritually for him or his wife if he joins the military. This raised bigger questions to me…….what do you think about Christians going into the military?
I am personally very uncomfortable with Christians voluntarily joining the military. The early church was unanimous in its advice to members to not join the Roman army. If one is presented with a range of choices, the choice of a carreer which might have one killing one’s enemies and sometimes "innocent" people or even other Christians seems to be not a wise one. I just cannot see the military as an advisable carreer choice for a follower of Jesus. It removes choice, making even attending Christian worship services difficult and sometimes impossible.
Having said that, I believe there is a biblical principle that one should remain where one was when becoming a disciple. John the Baptist, when given the opportunity to advise a soldier quit his military role, instead told him to not abuse those under his charge. In 1 Corinthians Paul acknowledges that the state does not carry the sword in vain and seems to acknowledge the legitimate need for military force to enforce laws and civic peace. Yet, the evidence is that universally, the NT church did not suggest voluntarily joining the military. Based on this, those who are already in the military when they become Christians ought to at the very least finish out their legal obligation, and if some choose to complete a carreer in the military, I personally would tend to advise against that, it is a grey area to me.
I do not see this as a salvation issue. Also, I am convinced that if the law of the land demands that a Christian do military service, then that person ought to do so, or perhaps pursue consciencious objector status if his/her convictions went that way. What I cannot find myself supporting is a person who is already a Christian choosing to join the military of their own volition. On what basis is this a good idea? What spiritual principle says that the military is a good option for a disciple of Jesus? Personally I do not feel the Christian church church should condemn such a decision to voluntarily join the military, but I would strongly discourage young men from doing it.