Christians As LEOs and Military Image







Can Christians Serve as Police Officers and in the Military? 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • August 23, In the year of our Lord, 2017


  1. Can Christians serve as police officers and can they serve in the military? 
  2. Do we have to make a blanket statement? 
    1. Not every police force is the same, and
    2. we can repeat that about militaries.
      1. For example, would anyone equate the American army of World War II with the army of Nazi Germany?
      2. Is there a difference between aggression and defense?
  3. Most preachers separate police officers and the military. 
    1. The main issue appears to be that of hate versus love.
    2. They would argue that in the military you have to hate the enemy, but as a police officer that is not necessarily the case.
    3. However, does it even have to be the case with a military?
      1. Again, I think it is hard to make a blanket statement.
      2. We have to judge each situation, each war, each army separately.


  1. Arguments Against Serving 
    1. Loving your neighbor precludes harming your neighbor,

      8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13.8–10).
    2. Using the sword brings on death by the sword,

      52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt 26.52).

      10 He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints (Rev 13.10).

    3. What if Christians are among the enemy of your nation?
      1. Do we want Christians killing Christians?
      2. How does the Bible say we should treat our brethren?
      3. What about the American Civil War?
        1. That happened during a time of religious revival.
        2. There Christians on both sides.
    4. The Ten Commandments forbid killing (The Old KJV),

      13 Thou shalt not kill (Exo 20.13).
    5. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal,

      3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled (2Co 10.3–6).
    6. God set aside the government to carry out killing,

      1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil (Rom 13.1–4).
    7. In my judgment, all these arguments either
      1. do not consider the context or
      2. do not consider how Israel killed but loved their neighbors.
        1. However, I do not want to sound as though I am easily dismissing these arguments.
        2. They all have some things for us to consider.
  2. Does Loving Your Neighbor Preclude Serving as Police Officers or Serving in the Military? 
    1. Where did the command to love your neighbor first appear?
      1. It appeared in the Law of Moses for the Israelites!
      2. Did the Lord expect Israel to carry out police action and military battles?
        1. Yes, He did.
        2. How were the Israelites able to serve, but still love their neighbors?
          1. Loving your neighbor also includes innocent victims of crimes or wars.
          2. Why does the issue of love for the bad guy not also extend to the people that the bad guy wants to hurt?

            11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death,
            And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.
            12 If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”
            Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?
            He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?
            And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?
            (Pro 24.11–12)
      3. Was Moses right or wrong in the following?

        11 Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand (Exo 2.11–12).

        1. Moses obviously broke Egyptian law, that is why, “he looked this way and that way,” before killing the Egyptian.
        2. However, what did God think of the motives of Moses?
          1. Did Moses have any other options?
          2. If not, could it be said that he loved the Israelite if he had failed to deliver him from the Egyptian?
    2. Did the execution of capital offenders and of the Canaanites and others, mean that the Israelites hated them?
      1. If not, why could that not be the case today for a Christian?
      2. If so, does that mean that perhaps there is a time for hate?

        1 To everything there is a season,
        A time for every purpose under heaven…

        8 A time to love,
        And a time to hate;
        A time of war,
        And a time of peace.
        (Ecc 3.1, 8)

    3. Does hate always have to mean a passionate dislike toward someone or malice toward another?
      1. Cannot hate also mean to have a strong aversion to something?
      2. For example, someone actions are so reprehensible
        1. that we have to take action against them, because
        2. his intent is to harm or even to kill the victim or nation.
          1. Is it appropriate to take whatever actions are necessary to prevent harm or the death of the innocent?
          2. To what extent do we apply the following?

            See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all (1Th 5.15).
  3. What Did Jesus Mean When He Told Peter to Sheath His Sword?

    But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt 26.52).

    1. Does this apply to every time a sword might be used?
      1. If so, does it apply to unbelievers?
      2. If this applies to all situations, does it contradict Romans 13?
    2. What was Peter trying to do?
      1. Should we defend with carnal weapons or even physically attack someone who attacks the truth?
      2. What should we do instead?

        1 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled (2Co 10.1–6).

        1. How should Christians pull down strongholds?
        2. Verse 5 answers the question.
  4. What If Christians Are Among the Enemy of Your Nation? 
    1. Consider the Roman soldiers who crucified Christ.
      1. The most significant even in the history of the world,
      2. happened because soldiers killed someone.
        1. While the death of Jesus helped us,
        2. who would want to have been the soldiers?
    2. Each one has to decide in his own mind.
      1. You have to build your own convictions,

        One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind (Rom 14.5).
      2. We should not do what we doubt,

        But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin (Rom 14.23).
  5. Do the Ten Commandments Forbid All Killing? 
    1. Please remember that the chapter and verse divisions, with some exceptions, such as the Psalms, did not exist in the beginning.
      1. Their appearance does break up our thought.
      2. We often do not follow the writer’s argument.
    2. If we would keep reading after Exodus 20,
      1. we would find the death penalty commanded,
      2. starting at Exodus 21.13.
    3. Also, notice what Exodus 22 said about home invasions,

      2 “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed” (Exo 22.2).
  6. Calling on the Government 
    1. Consider Cornelius.

      1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always (Acts 10.1–2).

      1. None of us would have wanted to be one of the soldiers who crucified Christ, yet, Cornelius was a Roman soldier.
      2. How does the Bible speak of him?
        1. He was devout.
        2. He feared God.
        3. He gave alms generously to the Jews.
        4. He prayed to God always.
          1. Did God keep Cornelius from situations where he would not kill an innocent person?
          2. He could serve as a soldier/police officer and still be devout, fear God, be generous, and pray without ceasing.
    2. Luke 3 shows what John the Baptist said to people, including soldiers, who asked him what they should do.
      1. They heard his cries for repentance.
      2. Certain groups wanted to know what they had to do to repent,

        9 “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” 11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” 12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” 14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3.9–14).

        1. Did John tell the soldiers to quit their work?
        2. Did he even indicate that they would continue in their work?
          1. If all righteous people quit law enforcement departments and militaries, what would those entities become?
          2. Would not the wicked use them without restriction?
            1. Truly that has happened and
            2. untold harm has occurred.
    3. God authorizes or commands the government to take certain people’s lives.
      1. How can that be scriptural if Christians cannot do it, and if it is sinful for Christians?
      2. If something is wrong for us to do, would it not also be wrong for the world, or in this case, for the government to do?
        1. If we cannot serve as police officers, can we call the police when we witness a crime or are the victims of a crime?
        2. If so, are we calling upon the government to commit a sin, for they might have to kill the criminal?
  7. VII.Special Consideration: Romans 12–13 
    1. First, Paul did not write Romans with chapter and verse divisions.
    2. Also, does the end of Romans 12 refer to serving as police officers and warriors or does it forbid Christians from taking personal vengeance?
      1. See also Proverbs 20.22
      2. Read carefully verses 17–21 and note what Paul forbids.
      3. Does that mean that evildoers go without punishment?
        1. No, that is the reason that God instituted governments among men.
        2. Does that forbid Christians from serving in the government?
          1. No, because the government is not carrying out personal vengeance, it is doing what God commands.
          2. Christians should do all the good that they can.
            1. That might mean removing criminals from society, but only as authorized law enforcement officers.


  1. I would put police officers and soldiers in different categories. Here is why. 
    1. Police officers are more surgical.
      1. They are sent to specific individuals or even groups that are evil.
    2. The military has typically not been so surgical.
      1. In ancient times, they attacked a city and everyone in it.
        1. This is what God wanted Israel to do to the Canaanites.
        2. In that case, the Lord knew that all the Canaanites had to die.
      2. Today, the military, at least in the United States, has become more surgical.
  2. Much of what the Bible addresses as a prohibition is personal vengeance. 
    1. This was true for the Israelites and for Christians, for
      1. you will notice that Romans 12 quotes the Old Testament,

        12 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Rom 12.19).
      2. First, Paul referenced or alluded to Leviticus 19.17–18.
      3. Second, he quoted Deuteronomy 32.35.
    2. Therefore, while the Israelites had to carry out the death penalty, do police action, and fight wars,
      1. they still could not carry out personal vengeance. (See Pro 20.22.)
      2. Both Testaments forbid personal vengeance.
  3. If a person chooses the part of a conscientious objector, 
    1. he must be prepared to be hated.
    2. For example, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor it unified and electrified our nation.
      1. I read the words of some of our brethren during that time.
      2. The FBI even investigated the Gospel Advocate because it discussed whether young men should join the war effort.
        1. The editor, H. Leo Boles, promoted pacifism, and
        2. of course, the government wanted to know the GA’s motives.
          1. They also wanted to know whether the GA was working for the enemy.
          2. Therefore, if you become a conscientious objector, prepare for people to misunderstand your motives.
            1. On the other hand, do not become one simply to avoid doing what has to be done.
  4. It might be easy to discuss this issue while not under attack and while our young men are not being drafted to go fight. 
    1. Then again, we are not caught up in the emotions of a war, and
    2. perhaps we can look at this objectively.