Military Service and War
We believe that Christians are forbidden by the commandments of God from taking human life directly or indirectly and that bearing arms is contrary to this fundamental belief. Therefore, we believe that Christians should not voluntarily become engaged in military service. If they are involuntarily engaged in military service, we believe they should refuse conscientiously to bear arms and, to the extent possible, refuse to come under military authority (Exodus 20:13; Matthew 5:21-22; II Corinthians 7.21-23; Acts 5:29).
The way of God is the way of love, sacrifice and sharing (Romans 12:1, 10). The teaching of God for an individual regarding the taking of human life is summed up in the Sixth Commandment, which says, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Christ repeated a great principle when He said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Paul said, “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10).
Jesus stated, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight . . .” (John 18:36). The spiritual Israel of God is no longer composed of the twelve physical tribes. People from all nations have been grafted into spiritual Israel (Romans 9:1-8) and are a part of the spiritual Body of Christ (Romans 2:25-29). As Christians, we have come out of darkness, from the power of Satan to the power of the Kingdom of God (Acts 26:28; Colossians 1:11-13).
We now have our citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We are to emulate the actions of Jesus (I Peter 4:1, 13-16). Christ did not respond in kind when He was reviled, and He did not threaten when He suffered. He suffered for doing good and endured suffering patiently because of His desire to please God (I Peter 2:19-24). He taught that to be angry with our brother can result in sin (Matthew 5:21-22). We are to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us (verses 43-44). We are not to avenge ourselves; vengeance belongs to God (Romans 12:29).
Our warfare as Christians is in the spiritual arena (Ephesians 6:10-20). We do not war against flesh (II Corinthians 10:3), but against wicked spirits in high places (Ephesians 6:12). We are to be good spiritual soldiers of Jesus Christ (II Timothy 2:3-4). This is our calling in life. As such, a Christian must at times face a conflict between man’s laws and the laws of Almighty God. When that happens, the Christian must obey the laws of God (Acts 5:29; I Peter 2:13-14).
In most countries, the military has its own rules and regulations. A person in the military is not free to decide what he or she can do. The wisest course of action is to refrain from putting oneself in such a position, since a person in the military is subject to its authority and may be called upon to take human life. The Apostle Paul tells us not to become slaves of men (I Corinthians 7:23).
Therefore, the United Church of God, an International Association, supports the conscientious objection of its members toward military service and war.
— from “Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God, and International Association,” pp. 33-34. Copyright 1998, United Church of God, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254, www.ucg.org.