Matters of Opinion:The Church Should Divorce the Military

The church should divorce the military.

"Matters of Opinion" is an occasional department that allows discussion of perspectives not necessarily shared by Christianity Today or the evangelical community as a whole. It is intended to encourage dialogue, and we welcome readers' responses. Is it time for the American church to "divorce" the military? Let us know what you think. The EditorsDuring the Kosovo bombing campaign a year ago, a reporter asked a middle-aged man whose reserve unit was preparing to be shipped to the Balkans: "Are you afraid?" "No, I'm not afraid," the reservist replied, "because the Lord is on my side." A young, sincerely religious pilot fondly told another reporter about prayer meetings in the chaplain's office before bombing raids, where a small group petitioned God for safety and success.These perspectives make sense for Christians only if the God known in Jesus takes sides in war. But can a Christian really claim that "The Lord is on my side" in war, or pray for the success of missiles?One of the most important—and controversial—aspects of being the church in the twenty-first century is the relationship between the church and the military. I want to suggest that the time has come for the centuries-old marriage between the church and the military to end in divorce.I confess some degree of anxiety in making this suggestion. I do not want it to be taken as a personal attack on any individual Christians, including some of my own family members and friends who have served in the military. Many of these people have felt a sense of vocation—in the most profoundly spiritual sense of the word—in such work. My concern is not with them personally, but with the vocation of the church, from which all other appropriate vocations for Christians should ...

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