One of the main reasons I wrote my book, A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism, was to help the police officers I worked with and trained as City Prosecutor and the military personnel I knew. There are four chapters on this subject in ATTK . Humans are hard-wired not to kill other humans, so even when killing is legally and morally justified, the slayer often has psychological trauma. Cops will tell you that when they roll up on a successful self-defense shooting, they can instantly spot the innocent guy who killed the robber: he’s one sitting there, vomiting. In at least 50% of justifiable shootings, the survivor has long-term symptoms of psychological distress (PTSD). This includes cops and military, as well as civilians who are forced to kill.
Women tend to get over it sooner than men, because society deems them weaker against a male attacker and concludes they have fewer options. (“He was so much bigger, and he tried to rape you. OF COURSE you had to shoot him, Dear!”) Men are more often second-guessed and condemned, because it is wrongly assumed they had more options. (“Why didn’t you karate-chop him or shoot him in the leg?”) Both are misunderstandings based on media-inspired fiction, not facts, but there you are, stuck with society’s prejudices. Religious people tend to get over it faster than non-religious folks because of their church’s support and having a solid standard of right, wrong, and forgiveness.
Today, we are tragically experiencing the highest suicide rates ever seen among police and military vets due to PTSD. The war on cops by Obama and other cop-haters has fueled it. Our leaders’ failure to articulate a clear moral reason for the war against Islamic terrorists, long and repeated deployments from lack of manpower, systematic criticism and undermining of our troops by the Democrats and MSM, the resulting lack of a united, popular, national, commitment to the war, and the false doctrine of pacifism poisoning Christianity all contribute to discouragement of our troops.
I have demonstrated in previous columns that pacifism is NOT in the Bible. So how did Jesus and His followers deal with soldiers, who were also the police of their day? John the Baptist was the forerunner prophet of Christ, sent to prepare the Jewish people to receive the Messiah. Luke 3:3,7:9. When Jewish soldiers repented and were baptized by John, they asked him how to reform. He told them to be content with their wages and not extort money from others. Lu. 3:14. Notice John did NOT say, “Quit the Army!” Inspired by the Holy Spirit, John told them how to please God AS soldiers/police. Obviously their profession did not hinder them in sharing the Gospel. Moreover, Jesus, endorsed all John’s teachings. Matt. 11:9,11.
How did Jesus deal with soldiers? A Roman centurion, an officer of the occupying army, came to Him to ask that his valued servant be healed. Matt. 8:5-13. The centurion, a godly man by the Jews’ own testimony, realized Jesus was The Son of God. Too humble to have Jesus come to his house, he asked in faith that if Jesus would just command it, then he knew his servant would be healed. Jesus praised the soldier as having greater faith than any Jew! Matt. 8:10. Jesus stated that this warrior was the first of many Gentiles who would believe in Him. Matt. 8:11-12. Did Jesus make any condition before he agreed to heal the man’s servant? Did He say, “Oh, I hate war and soldiers, so you’ll have to quit the army before I can heal your friend.” No. The centurion left blessed by Jesus and with his request granted.
Acts 10 is our next example of how Jesus’ apostles treated soldiers. About ten years after Jesus encounter with the centurion, Peter was ordered by the Holy Spirit to go see another godly Roman centurion, named Cornelius. This officer was also a seeker of the true God and a benefactor of the Jews, and Jesus decided that it was time to fulfill His prophecies to bring in the Gentiles. Acts 1:8. Lo and behold, who does Jesus pick as the first Gentile convert, but a soldier! Peter preached the gospel to him and Cornelius and all his staff believed. To prove to the Jews that they were truly accepted, the Holy Spirit came upon the Roman believers and enabled them to speak languages that they had never studied, just like the apostles at Pentecost! Peter baptized them all and brought them into God’s family as equals. Acts 10:44-48. Again, Peter made no requirement that they should quit being soldiers. Carrying and using arms to keep the peace or in your country’s service is simply no hindrance to being a Christian.
Had Jesus ever taught that soldiering is not in accord with godliness, Peter and the other disciples would have known that and preached it, but in fact they did the opposite! Jesus has no problem with armed peacekeepers: military, police or citizens. Finally, it is again a warrior who is chosen for his outstanding faith in God and a fulfillment of prophecy. Ps. 119:2; Isaiah 49:6.
We can only conclude that just because our job calls us to go armed and perhaps lawfully kill to protect the innocent DOES NOT separate us from God’s love! David killed hundreds of thousands in war, but was only condemned by God for murdering Uriah in order to steal his wife. Paul consistently uses the good soldier as a metaphor for the faithful Christian. 1 Cor. 9:7; Eph. 6:10-20; 2 Tim. 2:3-4; Phil. 2:25; Philemon 2. Therefore, being compared to a soldier or cop is not an embarrassment to any Christian. Paul accepted Roman soldiers’ protection from assassins. Acts 23. Paul says every Christian should obey the police power and the law, and that both the gun and the electric chair are godly instruments of government and order. Rom. 13:1-7. Peter agrees with Paul. 1 Pe. 2:13-16. The profession of arms, whether as cops or military, is consistently portrayed in the New Testament in a positive light.
We need to teach this truth to our police and military in the academies and boot camps, BEFORE they have to fight. We need to honor them as the invaluable public servants that they are. Murder is the unlawful, intentional killing of a human being. Legal killing in combat, law enforcement, or self-defense is NOT murder! It is an act to protect the innocent that is blessed by God! Proverbs 24:11-12. God knows the difference between murder and justifiable homicide. We need to thank our warriors and cops and let them know that they are blessed for defending us.