CatholicView has received numerous letters asking if the killing of the enemy in war is ungodly.    As a military member (chaplain) myself, I hear this question often in dealing with my fellow comrades in the uniform of the USA. 

Is killing, as part of war, immoral and sinful and against God’s Will?  Is it against the commandment: "You shall not kill?"  

The Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) are full of stories about battles and wars for the defense of the Holy Land.    During that time God blessed and protected the Israelites in their battle plans.  The Christian scriptures (the New Testament) use military terms to describe the battle between good and evil.  The theological concept of a  "just war" is what should guide the conscience in this matter.   In short, this concept of a "just war" says that it must in defense of your homeland (the "just war" theory doesn’t have room for the morality of STARTING a war), that the "good" must outweigh the evil of destruction and death, that targets must not involve innocent "civilians," and that war is considered the last option after "good faith" negotiations have all been exhausted.

Killing (I prefer the term MURDER) is never an acceptable Christian option.  But sometimes killing (taking life in self-defense) is tolerated for the greater good in war.  Usually, the idea of self-defense is used to "justify" the taking of life in war.  And that would make sense.  For example, I personally would NEVER EVER allow anyone to take my life or the lives of those whom I love (such as my family).  I would defend myself even to the point of killing the perpetrator to defend my loved ones and myself.

In a role as soldier, one is protecting one’s self and loved ones from the destruction that enemies would bring to this country   if the enemies were not stopped.

The military is a worthy and wonderful calling to serve.  Of course, all of us would wish there was no military, no wars, but that is not the reality now.  We need those who can protect us and soldiers are the ones that God calls for in this time and place to protect us all.  I must trust that God will do whatever it takes to bring peace to this broken world.

Please use the link at the top left side of this page
to comment or be added to the mailing list.