Last Updated on April 13, 2023 by OCF Communications

Episode 46 show notes

May a Christian serve in the military? When it comes to taking the life of an enemy combatant, how does someone reconcile that with Jesus’s command to love your enemy and to pray for him?

This past August in Pensacola, Fla., a group of military men and women came together for a panel discussion that addressed a topic they titled “Can you be a Christian and serve in the military?” About 40 to 50 people attended the event, and you can watch the full 90 minutes of the discussion here.

One of the members of the panel was COL Chet Arnold, USMC (Ret). He and his wife, Michelle, are the OCF field staff reps in Pensacola.

Today, you’re going to hear from Chet as he addresses the topic of not only being a Christian and serving in the military, but also being a Christian and killing while serving in the military. Chet will also talk about what it means to live a distinct life within the military culture, biblical truths about serving in the military, and other questions that came up during the panel discussion.

What we talked about

  • Introducing COL Chet Arnold and how he got involved with OCF Pensacola.
  • How did the panel discussion come together, and what were some overall thoughts and impressions on how well it was received?
  • Is this topic one that you hear about frequently?
  • What truths do we find in the Bible with regards to serving in the military?
  • Is the military focused on taking human life, as some like to suggest?
  • How can a Christian see someone on the battlefield as an image-bearer of God and still carry out an order that will end up in the death of that enemy combatant? How can a Christian follow Jesus’ commands to love our enemies and to pray for them, and then go out and kill them?
  • One of the chaplains, Chris Terrell, raised this question: How do we as Christians live distinct within the military culture? Chet weighs in with his thoughts.
  • 10 Commandments: Some versions say “thou shalt not kill” and others say “thou shalt not murder.” How can we know which one is correct? Chet talks about the difference between killing and murder in the context of the larger topic.
  • A young Marine in the audience asked this question: “How can I better relate to my parents who are pacifists and don’t understand how I can reconcile serving in the military and being a Christian?” How can one handle those difficult questions from any friend, family member, or loved one?
  • From the article “May A Christian Serve” on the OCF website, Chet addresses this question: “What are your thoughts about putting ourselves as Christians in situations where others are telling us to take live for reasons that may be unclear—or perhaps even unjust? How do we know those giving orders are doing what is right?”
  • One final, key takeaway from the discussion this episode.

About OCF Crosspoint

OCF Crosspoint is a podcast produced by Officers' Christian Fellowship and is dedicated to sharing stories of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession.

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