Military Service is Biblical - The Warrior's Journey®

Military Service is Biblical

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“‘Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?’  But Jesus perceived their craftiness, and said to them, ‘Show me a denarius.  Whose likeness and inscription does it have?’” They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” (Luke 20:22-25) 

This was one of the Scriptures that help convince 29-year-old Private Alvin York that he had both an obligation to his nation as well as to God. York had initially requested exemption on as a conscientious objector because of his belief in the Bible. But further study, after his induction into the Army, persuaded him that God had established the governing powers and placed “the sword” in their hands to administer His justice.   

York disavowed his pacifism and decided to fight for his country. He went on to win the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on October 8, 1918. He successfully destroyed German machinegun nests, killed 25 enemy soldiers, and captured 132. At one point six German soldiers rushed at him with their bayonets. Armed with only his pistol (he had expended his rifle cartridges), he killed all six. At the same time a German officer emptied his pistol firing at York without hitting him at all. The officer promptly surrendered. For his amazing feats York was promoted to sergeant and became an international celebrity. He went on to devote himself to numerous charitable activities in service to his fellow man. 

 Many sincere Christians believe that, as citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20) and sojourners on this planet (1 Peter 1:1), they have no obligation to the nation that protects them. But here in Luke 20:25 Jesus commands us to render to our government what is due them. As Paul also wrote, “Render to all (in government) what is due them: tax to whom tax is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” Both Paul and Peter commanded believers to submit to the governing authorities because they are God’s servants, charged with punishing evil doers and rewarding the righteous (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). Even Jesus, as He stood before Pilate, acknowledged that Pilate’s power to execute Him came from God (John 19:11). The military, as an extension of the government is also God’s servant when it defends the oppressed and punishes oppressors. 

But what about Jesus’ commands not to resist those who are evil and to turn the other cheek when someone strikes us (Matthew 5:39)?  Those words address personal retaliation and cannot be applied to government policy. The government has an obligation to defend its subjects from aggression.   


  • Read Genesis 6. What happened when humanity’s evil went unrestrained? 
  • Isn’t this why God instituted human government after the flood (Genesis 9:6)? 
  • As a member of the military, you also are a servant of God.  So be faithful. 

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