The Other Side Of The Story
I would like to briefly summarize what I have heard and seen in the Christian church world over the past several years. I ask that you prayerfully and scripturally consider what follows because the issues raised here are serious and the times we live in are perilous.
I’ll begin with a church we visited when we were living in the south. The pastor is very well known and quite popular. When we arrived at the church we received a program that outlined the morning worship service. Military songs were listed on the program. Some years later I listened to a sermon given by the same pastor. His subject was the country, the military, and war.
On another Sunday morning, we visited a church not far from our current home. When we got there we found out that the children’s Sunday school class was scheduled to do a special presentation for the congregation. When the children came out on the platform they sang “It’s A Grand Old Flag.” That morning’s program included someone dressed like “Uncle Sam” walking into the church on stilts.
A few years ago, while watching the national republican convention on television, we saw a Christian church choir singing. They did not sing hymns, they sang military songs representing each branch of the armed forces. Military maneuvers were shown on a wide screen behind the choir as they sang.
On another occasion I listened to a sermon given in another Christian church. The sermon was preached by a military man. He praised the military, and those who were involved in all the wars of the past. He also encouraged the young people in the congregation who might be called upon to fight for their country in the future. To me this sounded like recruitment.
Our churches should be protecting our youth by teaching them the biblical doctrine of peace. Sadly, in many of our modern day “Christian” churches, the opposite is happening. Young people are being targeted at their high schools and college campuses by military recruiters.
Finally we visited a local Christian “peace” church. A “peace” church would be described as one that adheres to the doctrine:
“… that war is altogether contrary to the teaching and spirit of Christ and the Gospel; that therefore war is sin.”
That “peace church” pastor told us of a recent service held at the church where they prayed for, laid hands on, and sent one of their members off to war. When I asked the pastor regarding this departure from the official and historically biblical teaching of his church, he said the Holy Spirit would teach the soldier.
From my observation, in the situations above and elsewhere, pastors are not teaching Christians that war and killing is sin. Believers are being taught the exact opposite. This is apostasy. Christians are being taught that participation in war is honorable, praiseworthy, and one’s duty if so called upon. Christians are being taught that Jesus Christ approves of their participation in war. This is not true.
I was in the doctor’s office a few weeks ago. There were several people in the small waiting room. One woman, a teacher, was talking to another woman about ordinary everyday things. Then all of a sudden she said “war is being glorified in our country.” She then went on to tell everyone in the room about a book that she assigns her class to read entitled “Soldier’s Heart” by Gary Paulsen. She said the book was very short, easy to read, and available at the public library. Just as she said that she was called into the doctor’s office so I never had an opportunity to speak with her. The next day I got the book from the public library and read it.
Soldier’s Heart tells the story of a young boy, Charley, going off to fight in the Civil War. He experiences the glory of the songs and the glory of the parades. As his troop marches through the different towns many people cheered them on and pretty girls gave them food. Big crowds met the soldiers throughout their journey to the battlefield. The book chronicles Charley’s initial glamorized perception of war to his grim realization that war is “butchery”. In a few short pages the book portrays a young boy who is dramatically changed from someone who wanted to guard his heart from sin because he believed in Jesus, heaven, and hell, to someone who had more compassion for the horses he had to kill than for the men that he killed. Although “Soldier’s Heart” is a novel, it is based on a true story. Charley was a real person.
As I read the book I thought it strange that a sermon I recently listened to had, in a similar way, glamorized war. The congregation was told, in a dramatized manner, that during World War II soldiers were met by many and given food on their way to battle. Nothing was said in that sermon about the sin of killing another human being and nothing was said about loving your enemies.
Many justify a Christian’s participation in war by referring to the Old Testament. The Old Testament must always be read through the lens of the cross of Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 1:1-2 we read: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” Christians are under a new covenant. The redeemed in the new testament did not kill, but rather many of them had their lives taken from them.
Throughout church history there has been a faithful witness to this truth. There have been believers who, because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and because they followed His teachings, could not and would not take a human life. They wanted to be like physicians who brought healing to the people and not destruction. They were often persecuted and suffered dearly for their stand. This is the “other side of the story” that is not being heard in today’s church world. Doctrine, which is another word for teaching, determines behavior. Have our children been exposed to this truth so that they can have the opportunity to make biblically based decisions in the future?
The government of the United States of America has made provision for “conscientious objectors” to do alternative service when the draft has been in effect. According to the Selective Service, “a conscientious objector is one who is opposed to serving in the armed forces and/or bearing arms on the grounds of moral or religious principles.” The government will require proof that an individual’s beliefs are genuine. Young men and women can begin doing this by:
1. Letting close friends and family know your beliefs.
2. Stating your beliefs in writing (e-mails, letters, articles, to friends, local newspapers, school or church publications, etc.) and keeping a copy for your records.
I encourage Christians to seek the Lord on this subject and let the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, guide you into all truth. As Jesus said … take heed that no man deceive you.
War is not glorious, …
“… war is altogether contrary to the teaching and spirit of Christ and the Gospel; that therefore war is sin.”