Conversations with a JW: Military Service

11/19/15… this convo went much better than usual, God has been showing me some things.  Would anyone here be interested in a closed discussion blog in regards to evangelistic work?  LMK.

The Christian and Military Service

It is understood throughout the Bible that part of the existence of governments includes armies, and warfare.  That reality may be an unfortunate one, because of the Fall, but it’s still reality.

Israel was held up as an example to the world… and they had an army.   Here are some of their rules of warfare:

Deuteronomy 20: 1 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.2 When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people. 3 He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, 4 for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ 5 The officers also shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Who is the man that has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. 6 Who is the man that has planted a vineyard and has not begun to use its fruit? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would begin to use its fruit. 7 And who is the man that is engaged to a woman and has not married her? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would marry her.’ 8 Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say, ‘Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart and return to his house, so that he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart.’ 9 When the officers have finished speaking to the people, they shall appoint commanders of armies at the head of the people.

David, a man after God’s own heart, was a valiant warrior.

Acts 13:22 After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’

Jesus Himself used force during His mortal life.

John 2: 14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”

Jesus praised this centurion’s faith, and did not urge him to put down his sword – nor did his faith interfere with his military service (to as corrupt a government as can be imagined).

Luke 7:2 And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” 6 Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof;7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed 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.” 9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.”

Jesus used war in one of His parables.

Luke 14:31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.

Great love can be found on the field of war.

John 15: 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Power in this world is allowed by God.

John 19: 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”

Proverbs 8:15 By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice.

The Christian is directed to be obedient to those who are in rightful authority over him.

Ephesians 6: 5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eye service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

Which includes governments.

1 Peter 2: 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

Romans 13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

The first Gentile convert was a centurion.

Acts 10:1 Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, “Cornelius!” 4 And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.

…15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”

… 19 While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” 21 Peter went down to the men and said, “Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?” 22 They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.” 23 So he invited them in and gave them lodging.

…34 Opening his mouth, Peter said:“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. 36 The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)— 37 you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38 You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on across. 40 God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. 43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered,47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

Military service, has in most times and places, not been optional.  Christians, as those subject to laws – including laws of conscription – are required to obey rightful laws except where they specifically contradict God’s clearly stated law.  And in that case, Christians are expected to pay the price for disobedience, and have done so… which is why the early Christians were martyred in droves, and why our Christian brethren continue to be martyred to this day in countries around the globe.

ETA:  Elspeth reminded me that I had failed to state the JW position.  In short, it is that he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.  Because all the leaders of the world will die during Armageddon, they extend that to all the members of all the armies, and to every armed serviceperson.  Upon conversion/baptism to JW, the person is expected to no longer serve in the military, as an active policeman (no one who carries a gun – evidence technicians and such are allowed), or to hold employment with any company that produces arms.  JW do not vote, and hold themselves neutral on all geopolitical issues.



12 thoughts on “Conversations with a JW: Military Service

  1. Elspeth

    I don’t get from here what the JW position is on the religious and military service, although I certainly appreciated the exposition. Very well done!

    1. hearthie Post author

      Oh, I’ll ETA that on the post, it’s a bit shocking really. (Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword, and are not savable while they carry it).

  2. Elspeth

    Upon conversion/baptism to JW, the person is expected to no longer serve in the military, as an active policeman (no one who carries a gun – evidence technicians and such are allowed), or to hold employment with any company that produces arms. JW do not vote, and hold themselves neutral on all geopolitical issues.

    I feel like I’m getting a religious crash course of sorts lately. Our girls went to an LDS wedding reception last week. They couldn’t attend the wedding because we aren’t LDS, and so they started looking into what the faith is all about, which reminded me of things I forgot.

    I knew JW didn’t vote, and I knew they were pacifists, but I hadn’t made the connection that this extended to the way their converts make a living, although I should have figured that.

  3. Scott

    This reminds me of the Litany of Fervent Supplication, during the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom (we do this every week). There is a part that goes:

    Priest: Furthermore we pray for this country, it’s ruler (title and name), people, civil authorities and armed forces.
    People: Lord, have mercy.

    As a member of those armed forces, I am aware of what is being prayed for and I appreciate it.


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