Killing in a war OK or not?


#1

I know this has been probably been discussed many times, and I have been thru this with friends and family too. I realize many people claim it is OK to kill in a war, as long as its not innocent civilians or children. I completely disagree, the commandments reads, ‘thou shalt not kill’ PERIOD, no exceptions noted anywhere that I know of.

I think either the church or mainstream christian groups began to say it was OK to kill in wars to justify nations fighting in wars, and to keep the general religious community from speaking out against the soldiers fighting in these wars, but I think in Gods eyes, ANYONE killing, soldiers or not, will be guilty of this sin. Every person has a choice, even in a war, to kill or not to kill, they could always shoot them in the knees or otherwise incapacitate them.

I think this goes for police and other law enforcement officials as well.

The only verse that makes me wonder about this, is the one where the group of young kids were teasing a balding man, calling him names, and God sent 2 large bears to maul all the kids to death! I did not believe this was true until I looked it up in the bible, I still do not understand this verse, killing 40 something kids for simply teasing someone about their lack of hair? doesnt make sense to me.


#2

I believe the commandment is better translated as "Thou shalt not murder."


#3

[quote="DannyGR, post:2, topic:337660"]
I believe the commandment is better translated as "Thou shalt not murder."

[/quote]

And murder being the unlawful or unjust killing of a human being.


#4

I was told in high school that this was a perfect example of words having new meanings on the same order as DannyGR mentioned. When translated ( either KJV or DR ) kill = unlawful death and murder = what soldiers did. It has since reversed. If you don’t think words can change their meanings, when I was a kid, to swipe meant to steal. Now it means to pay for as in swipe your credit card. And when you think about the Gay 90’s…


#5

I have read in some writings of the early Church that if you wanted to become a Christian you had to give up military service, and all violence was greatly looked down upon even self defense. :shrug:

  1. ATTITUDE TOWARD MILITARY LIFE AS A VOCATIONAL CALLING

“No Christian (from 70-110 A.D.)…would voluntarily become a soldier after conversion: He would be deterred from doing so, not only by fear of contamination by idolatry, but also by a natural reluctance-and doubtless in many cases by a conscientious objection to using arms.”

"There were certain features of military life which could not have failed to thrust themselves on a Christian’s notice as presenting, to say the least, great ethical difficulty. The shedding of blood on the battlefield, the passing of death sentences by officers and the execution of them by common soldiers, the judicial infliction of scourging, torture, and crucifixion, the unconditional military oath…the average behavior of soldiers in peacetime, and other idolatrous and offensive customs-all of these would constitute in combination an exceedingly powerful deterrent against any Christian joining the army on his own initiative."43

Harnack: "The position of a soldier would seem to be still more incompatible with Christianity than the higher offices of state, for Christianity prohibited on principle both war and bloodshed…We shall see that the Christian ethic forbade war absolutely (uberhaupt) to the Christians…Had not Jesus forbidden all revenge, even all retaliation for wrong, and taught complete gentleness and patience? And was not he military calling moreover contemptible on account of its extortions, acts of violence, and police service? Certainly: and from that it followed without question, that a Christian might not of free will become a soldier."44

"It had been sometimes said, that the motive which influenced the early Christians to refuse to engage in war, consisted in the idolatry which was connected with the Roman armies. One motive this idolatry unquestionably afforded; but it is obvious, from the quotations which we have given, that their belief of the unlawfulness of fighting, independent of any question of idolatry, was an insuperable objection to engaging in war. Their words are explicit:’I cannot fight if I die .’ ‘I am a Christian, and, therefore, I cannot fight.’ ‘Christ, by disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier,’ and Peter was not about to fight in the armies of idolatry."45

"It is also interesting that neither Celsus, nor Origenes in replying to him, alludes explicitly to the fear of contamination with idolatry as the Christians’ (sole) reason for refraining from military service: Celsus does not say what their ground was; but Origenes makes it perfectly clear elsewhere in this treatise that it was the moral objection to bloodshed by which they were mainly actuated."46

"The prohibition of military service was partly due to the consideration that the soldier was required to compromise his faith by participation in the pagan rites associated with Roman warfare, and to jeopardize his character by association with brutal and licentious comrades, but objection was also taken on principle to the military profession, and was supported by arguments such as these-that the military oath was inconsistent with the pledge of loyalty to Christ, that Christ has warned His disciples against taking the sword (Mt 26:52), that, if the lesser strife of litigation be forbidden, much more is the greater (1Co 6:7), that, if it be unlawful to fight on our own behalf, it is also unlawful to fight in the quarrels of others, and especially that in war men fight to kill, and that intentional killing is murder."47

"Christians objected not only to war, but also because soldiers were called upon to execute death sentences. Then, too, army service was intimately bound up with the religious-political system of emperor worship, which Christians believed was a form of idolatry."48

"Gibbon, writing in 1776, said of the imperial Roman armies: ‘The common soldiers, like the mercenary troops of modern Europe, were drawn from the meanest, and very frequently from the most profligate, of mankind.’ Harnack says: "The conduct of the soldiers during peace was as opposed to Christian ethics as their wild debauchery and sports at the Pagan festivals.’ Marcus Aurelius called successful soldiers robbers; but he was a soldier himself, and was obliged to fill his ranks with gladiators, slaves, and Dalmation brigands."49

“This collection of passages will suffice to show how strong and deep was the early Christian revulsion from and disapproval of war, both on account of the dissension it represented and of the infliction of bloodshed and suffering it involved. The quotations show further how closely warfare and murder were connected in Christian thought by their possession of a common element-homicide…The strong disapprobation felt by Christians for war was due to its close relationship with the deadly sin (of murder) that sufficed t keep the men guilty of it permanently outside the Christian community.”

"It has already been remarked that the sentiments expressed by (early) Christian authors in regard to the iniquity of war, the essentially peaceful character of Christianity, the fulfillment of the great plowshare prophecy in the birth and growth of the Church, the duty of loving enemies, and so on, all point to the refusal to bear arms as their logical implicate in practice."50


#6

DESERTION AFTER CONVERSION: MARTYRDOM "During the early period of Christianity, soldiers who were converted usually left the army immediately, although such action might mean death or other severe punishment."53 ** “The primitive Christians not only refused to be enlisted in the army, but when they embraced Christianity whilst already enlisted, they abandoned the profession at whatever cost… These were not the sentiments, and this was not the conduct, of the insulated individuals who might be actuated by individual opinions, or by their private interpretations of the duties of Christianity. Their principles were the principles of the body. They were recognized and defended by the Christian writers their contemporaries.”**

ACHILLEUS & NEREUS "Pope Damasus (366-384 A.D.), who took a great interest in the records and tombs of the martyrs, put up an epitaph to two praetorian soldiers, Nereus and Achilleus, who, he says ‘had given (their) names to military service, and were carrying on (their) cruel duty (but) suddenly laid aside (their) madness, turned around (and) fled; they leave the general’s impious camp, cast down (their) shields, helmets, and bloodstained weapons; they confess, and bear (along) with joy the triumph of Christ’:they were put to death with the sword."55

JULIUS "Julius, who suffered martyrdom in Moesia, said to the judge at his trial: ‘During the time that I was, as it appears, going astray in the vain service of war, for twenty-seven years I never came before the judge as an offender or a plaintiff. Seven times did I go out on a campaign, and I stood behind no one, and I fought as well as any. The commander never saw me go wrong; and dost thou think that I, who had been found faithful in the worse things, can now be found unfaithful in the better?"56

MARCELLUS Marcellus had been a centurion in the Roman army, but “in 298 A.D. took the initiative and insisted on resigning from his office. On the occasion of the Emperor’s birthday, he cast off his military belt before the standards, and called out: ‘I serve Jesus Christ, the eternal king.’ Then he threw down his vine staff and arms, and added: ‘I cease from this military service of our Emperors, and I scorn to adore your gods of stone and wood, which are deaf and dumb idols. If such is the position of those who render military service, that they should be compelled to sacrifice to gods and emperors, I renounce the standards, and I refuse to serve as a soldier.’” “While the objection to sacrifice thus appears as the main ground for the bold step Marcellus took, it is clear that he was also exercised over the nature of the military service as such: for his last words to the judge were: ‘I threw down (my arms); for it was not seemly that a Christian man, who renders military service to the Lord Christ, should render it (also) by (inflicting) earthly injuries.’” "When he was sentenced to death, Cassianus, the clerk of the court, loudly protested, and flung his writing materials on the ground, declaring that the sentence was unjust: he suffered death a few days after Marcellus."57

MARTIN "Martin, of whom so much is said by Sulpicius Severus, was bred to the profession of arms, which on his acceptance of Christianity, he abandoned."58

TARAKHOS (304 A.D.) “Tarakhos of Cilicia, on trial because he had left the army, told the governor he had been a soldier, ‘but because I was a Christian, I have now chosen to be a civilian.’” He was martyred in 304 A.D.59


#7

Yes! I read this too and I had brought up a big discussion about this in my RCIA group and never really got a good answer. Roman soldiers used to lay down their arms when they became Christian but I do not know if it was because of killing or because of having to worship the Caesar as a god. But I also would like to know how just war theory makes it okay to kill even in self defense when the bible says thou shalt not kill (full stop) and not thou shalt not kill but its okay if you are being attacked. Could someone please explain this?


#8

Usually the abandonment of military service after conversion in the early Church was because one had offer sacrifice to pagan gods in the Roman Empire. Do you have other instances outside of the Roman Empire?


#9

§ One has a grave duty to protect the life of others for whom they are responsible. The common good of the family and the State are recognized as legitimately worthy of protection. If an aggressor attempts to cause harm, rendering them incapable of doing so may necessarily involve taking the aggressor’s life. In this case, the fatal outcome is the result of the aggressor’s action, not the defender.

Evangelium Vitae


#10

But how where is the justification for this statement. Many encyclicals point to scripture for evidence. Where is the evidence for this?


#11

[quote="Warandpeace, post:8, topic:337660"]
Usually the abandonment of military service after conversion in the early Church was because one had to offer sacrifice to pagan gods in the Roman Empire to be in the military. Do you have other instances outside of the Roman Empire?

[/quote]


#12

We speak the words of a Roman centurion–the backbone of the Roman Army–during Mass! “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…” We have priests that are officers in the military. There are even roman soldiers that are saints (Longinus and Cornelius)! The Empire was an anti Christian organization. It was illegal to be Christian and Christians were being killed for their beliefs. It was more that a roman soldier could not serve two gods for lack of a better term.

My husband is not a murderer. He simply has a job to do, nothing more than that. I am sure he has killed people, but he prays he hasn’t. The fact that you think a soldier can somehow incapacitate an enemy combatant shows an innocence I wish we all had, but it is simply not a possibility when you are in battle. policemen are not always able to either. Would you prefer they allow the true danger to society to have the opportunity to continue to harm others? How would you react to a mother who refused to kill in self defense and the attacker went on to kill her children as well? Thou shall not kill means you do not go out and unjustly take another’s innocent life, not protect society from danger.

No greater love then to lay down your life for your friend…honestly, that fits every soldier I have ever met. Knowing my husband and his friends are ready in a heart beat to go off and possibly not return just so you, me and everyone else can be having this conversation is a perfect example of that. The fact that it torments him knowing he may have killed on more than one occasion shows that. I know not a single soldier who WANTS to hurt or kill anybody. I’m sure they exist, but I don’t know any. Same with the police officers that worked with my dad. they lay their lives down daily, and some are even called to lay it down permanently as well. And those that live with the knowledge that they have indeed killed are permanently changed


#13

Killing in a war OK or not?

Either way - Stupid and dangerous to telegraph the equivocation.

The only “good” in doing otherwise would be extremely short lived, and would go on to be eclipsed by further actions of opposing parties.

“Wars” do not exist. War is a condition that is never ending, the enemy ALWAYS has to be assumed to have fallen-back to re-coalesce into a more capable force. And Peace (except as offered by JESUS CHRIST) is not a term to be relied upon unless it is certain that the other side will NEVER resort to arms [TERMS, J.M. Thomas R., 2012] “If when Political objects are unimportant, motives weak, the excitement of forces small, a cautious commander tries in all kinds of ways, without great crises and bloody solutions, to twist himself skillfully into peace through the characteristic weakness of his enemy in the field and in the cabinet, we have no right to find fault with him, if the premise on which he acts are well founded and justified by success; still we must require him to remember that he only travels on forbidden tracks, where the God of War may surprise him; that he ought always to keep his eye on the enemy, in order that he may not have to defend himself with a dress rapier if the enemy takes u p a sharp sword”. (Clausewitz, “On War” (Penguin) pg. 137)


#14

The context of the ten commandments was that Moses was being given rules apparently for his own people mainly. Rules how they should live. Do not kill each other, do not steal each other's livestock. There are also lots of rules about how to trade livestock. It seems to be aimed at the people of Moses's tribe. God then tells Moses to go and kill other people - people from other tribes. This tells me that the statement that Thou shall not kill is not meant to be understood as absolute otherwise they would have noted that objection when God ordered them to kill other tribes.

I like to think that God wants us all to be one 'tribe' now that Jesus has been with us and has given us the ability to become one single people for which the rules of Moses would apply to us all. If you imagine a world where everyone is authentically Christian, there would be no wars and we would arrive at the place I think you are describing.

Peace


#15

Ever heard of St Joan of Arc?


#16

Killing is always objectively evil, but the principle of double effect can apply in various situations, which means that both a good and an evil act is simultaneously occurring. This is a term that will occasionally come up in natural theology. It’s the same reason why various drugs with harmful side effects are still morally allowed to be used for treating conditions.

In early Christianity, military service was often avoided because they were still struggling as a minority and a Christian would often be forced to choose between good and evil actions. Frankly, I still think that applies to a lesser extent today and it’s one of the reasons I avoided joining the military even though it sounded kind of fun. I was afraid Washington was going to invade Iran or something and I’d end being some amoral puppet soldier patrolling a street.


#17

Killing is always objectively evil, but the principle of double effect can apply in various situations, which means that both a good and an evil act is simultaneously occurring. This is a term that will occasionally come up in natural theology. It’s the same reason why various drugs with harmful side effects are still morally allowed to be used for treating conditions.

In early Christianity, military service was often avoided because they were still struggling as a minority and a Christian would often be forced to choose between good and evil actions. Frankly, I still think that applies to a lesser extent today and it’s one of the reasons I avoided joining the military even though it sounded kind of fun. I was afraid Washington was going to invade Iran or something and I’d end being some amoral puppet soldier patrolling a street.

Emphasis mine.

There’s the problem right there, “freedom of choice”, not that you have it, just that you don’t seem to be fully apprised of why you do. In the words of another King Q:“Can’t we all just get along” A: NO. Your quote (if honesty be had) should read “I avoided joining the military because I am otherwise permitted the luxury to not be aware of the possible need to fight for my life.” That was not bought for you by people spreading the word of JESUS CHRIST, it was bought for you by people going out and stomping on someone who didn’t (at least) outwardly profess that to be a mutual desire.

There is not a person reading or posting here that doesn’t owe their sweet darn time spent doing it to someone who has fought for that little bit of “peace” and quiet. The average U.S. citizen has a fair chance of waking up, showering (yes with water and soap, it’s really not that scary), getting dressed, driving to work, and on the way to work, picking up today’s newspaper a hot cup of coffee, and a donut. How far removed from that is (the same person) waking up under a tree, after surviving the elements of the night before, to the immediate prospect of surving the day, while protecting the proceeds of the day’s forage and hunt, a desired mate and resultant offspring. The exact distance between those two possibilities is often ‘called’ “society.” [paraphrased TERMS, J.M. Thomas R., 2012]
Society only exists until such time, and where, it does not. Anyone care to say when / where EXACTLY that may occur is only B>S’g (because they are stupid, or because they are lying on purpose, either way is a danger to you and yours)[paraphrased TERMS, J.M. Thomas R., 2012]


#18

[quote="mikekle, post:1, topic:337660"]
I know this has been probably been discussed many times, and I have been thru this with friends and family too. I realize many people claim it is OK to kill in a war, as long as its not innocent civilians or children. I completely disagree, the commandments reads, 'thou shalt not kill' PERIOD, no exceptions noted anywhere that I know of.

[/quote]

The church has never taught that one may not serve in the military and she has never taught that it is wrong to kill in military service, the only restrictions being that the objectives of the war be just, the means not be excessive, and every reasonable precaution be taken to limit the harm to civilians. Beyond that the church also accepts killing in self defense and by the state in the execution of criminals.Q. 1276. Under what circumstances may human life be lawfully taken?
A. Human life may be lawfully taken:
1. In self-defense...
2. In a just war...
3. By the lawful execution of a criminal... (Baltimore Catechism)
Ender


#19

[quote="Ender, post:18, topic:337660"]
The church has never taught that one may not serve in the military and she has never taught that it is wrong to kill in military service, the only restrictions being that the objectives of the war be just, the means not be excessive, and every reasonable precaution be taken to limit the harm to civilians. Beyond that the church also accepts killing in self defense and by the state in the execution of criminals.Q. 1276. Under what circumstances may human life be lawfully taken?
A. Human life may be lawfully taken:
1. In self-defense...
2. In a just war...
3. By the lawful execution of a criminal... (Baltimore Catechism)
Ender

[/quote]

So if a war turns out to be waged for false reasons, such as the initial reason for invading Iraq, and later found out they never had weapons of mass destruction, and we should have not invaded, and probably did it just so the west could get someone in power there who sided with them on issues, plus the oil thing was high on the list too Im sure, so in this particular case, war was really not justified, then the soldiers who killed in this instance WOULD be committing a sin by killing the 'enemy'.


#20

As I am not Christian, hope it’s no problem for me to give my answer, though it’s non-theological. If it’s killing enemy soldiers in a war, then both our side and the enemy’s side are doing their jobs-long as both sides humanely treat POW and once the war ends, killing ends with it. Collateral damage deaths where civilians are unintentionally killed or wounded in war such as by stray bullets, bombing raids are inevitable though not good.

It’s wrong to deliberately kill civilians in a war but as long as we have had wars, it’s people who don’t want to be a part of the war who end up being killed. Such as in Dresden, atom bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki-those born in 1945 are innocent but got killed. In the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, President Harry S. Truman did what he believed would end the war and truth is that he only had bad choices because atomic bombings which kill thousands of kids is a bad choice.

My view always has and will be that President Harry S. Truman should have dropped the atom bombs elsewhere in Japan with few thousand casualties-but that too would be a bad choice because people who want no part of war get killed only in fewer #s. And there would be no guarantee that Japan would surrender. Worst choice would have been an invasion of Japan-there would have been more deaths because the Japanese would have used women and children soldiers. They were already sending 14 year old boys on kamikaze airforce missions and they had bushido-Samurai way where fighting to death was preferred to surrender. If Japan and Germany had the atom bombs, they would have had used them against us.

It’s complicated because war alone is a bad thing. President Harry S. Truman had only bad choices in WW2 when it came to whether to drop the atomic bombs, but he did what he believed would end the war and bring peace-but at the deaths of thousands of civilians including babies born days before the bombings. Regardless of 1’s view on dropping the atom bombs, people must know that the kids killed in Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are innocent war victims. Hope it answers though it’s not the best answer you were looking.

J.R. Johnson


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