From Iowa I received the following question:
My question is a problem that I think is facing many young men these days May a Christian enlist in the armed forces of our country? I asked this question mainly in view of the fact, that the young man assumes he will be called soon and would rather be in a branch other than the Army.
Yours in Christ,
This is not an easy question to answer. I know that the consensus of opinion among our people seems to be that under no possible circumstances should a young man enlist in the armed services of his country. But I am not satisfied with that answer. I can easily imagine circumstances where it would be the duty of all of us to join the armed services of our country. I think it one of the duties of citizenship to fight for your country when attacked.
And here we approach a great difficulty. Who shall in our days determine whether or not we are engaged in a righteous war? World politics are so involved that it is almost impossible to make up one’s mind about this important matter.
And for that reason we have come to the conclusion, and rightfully so, that we wait until the government speaks and drafts us into the armed services. We have to obey the government when she comes and tells us: I have need of you! Put on the uniform and fight for your country. Then the government which is instituted by God to wage war also, becomes responsible for its wars. And we simply obey orders.
And so the consensus of opinion among us seems to be that a young man should not enlist but wait until the government calls him.
Now this calling by the government is bound by more or less constant rules and regulation. As a rule there is an age limit. And as a rule you are drafted into the army. And as a rule army life is not the most advantageous of the armed services. .And so some of our young men, knowing the above rules, and seeing their 19th birthday, and, consequently, the government’s letter, approaching them, choose to enlist in some other branch of the service.
And I cannot see why this practice would be wrong. Even in such a case, the young man does not choose the life of the soldier or the sailor: he is going to serve anyway, barring rejection because of physical or mental unfitness, so I do not see any difficulty here.
Closing, I would say that I cannot understand how a serious Christian would voluntarily seek army or navy life, being cut off from practically all Christian surroundings, worship, exercise of Christian fellowship, Christian home life, etc., while under our present set-up, and present state of affairs, the government, which is in possession of all the facts, and consequently, knows all the dangers and needs for the protection of our country determines the strength and size of the armed services. Moreover, such a young man throws himself into such midst of fearful temptations. If God by His providence, and through the draft of the government, throws you into such temptations, it is His doing and not yours. But if you have to serve anyway, and you rather serve in the navy than in the army, there is to my mind no objection here. It is a matter of choice, that’s all.
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I received a letter from a young man who lives rather far away. I have his permission to quote the letter, but he requests me to omit his name. But I will not quote the letter, for the simple reason that it would surely reveal the writer in the territory from which this letter is sent, and since it is my opinion that what he has done cannot be defended, although I also should say that he seems to have acted in good faith, I think that this action of mine will save him some embarrassment.
Here are his two questions:
- Is it, in some cases, correct to vote for yourself?
- If so, does this not militate against the rule laid down by Paul that you should esteem the brother who is with you on nomination, better than yourself?
Relative the first question, I would say that in all and every case where you are on nomination with one or more of the brethren you should not vote for yourself. I know that there are cases on record where a man did this anyhow, was afterwards found out because he had all the votes, explained himself with more or less conviction and was accepted, but such cases have never reconciled me with the practice to vote for yourself. I think it is definitely wrong in all cases. And I will give you the grounds.
Ability, capacity for an office in the church, regardless whether it is for elder, deacon or some other office in the Church of Christ, including even a function in a Christian society or club, is bound up in the gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul instructs the Church regarding the appointment of officers, that is, presbyters, elders and deacons, and you will find the list of necessary requirements in I Tim. 3 and Titus 1. And although this list appertains to the officers in God’s church, we may learn from it that also in places of leadership in other endeavors and gestures of the Church of Christ it is expected that we choose men and women that are outstanding. And all positive virtue is certainly the fruit of the grace of God which is given us by the Holy Spirit of Christ and the Word of God.
Now you are placed on a nomination with other brethren for a certain office, and this nomination is submitted to the rest of the members of the Church, or of a Christian society or Christian club. And the idea of this choice in candidates is certainly that everyone is expected to choose the man that is best fitted for the position. In other words, you are going to vote for the man who has most of the Holy Spirit. Do you not see how impossible it is for a man to vote for himself, saying with his vote: I am the man that is outstanding above my fellows! I have the most virtue of the two! Ah me! It is a wonder anyhow if we are chosen, and we would rather crawl somewhere and cry: Not me! Not me! It is a wonder that God will use sinful man, very sinful men, for His work, without voting for yourself and thus increasing the agony a thousand fold!
And so, my dear young friend, my answer is: No, you may never vote for yourself. Let God vote for you, using your fellows, and then you will perhaps be able to do the work assigned to you. At best it is agonizing to be elevated above your fellows! The responsibility! the responsibility!
And now, so that my readers may not quest and begin to search who this young man may be, let me say that he does not live in this country.
Relative your second question, I would say that I need not answer same since I answered the first one in the negative.
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The following question comes from a reader whose identity I do not know, but I am told that the editor knows, so that I can proceed to answer same.
Here is the question:
“How can Christian people justify themselves in the manner in which they celebrate Easter namely by dressing themselves in their new Easter togs, thus converting the house of God into a style show? Many Christians, upon leaving the service on Easter morning, gossip about one another’s new garments instead of meditating on the Risen Lord.”
I cannot see that this outburst requires an answer. Certainly, it needs no answer from me to condemn the converting of God’s House into a style show, gossiping about one another’s new garments instead of meditating on the Risen Lord. The mere statement of these things includes their condemnation.
However, I think that it is not only possible, but that it often happens that God’s people come to the Easter service with a new dress and a new bonnet, and that they listen attentively to the Easter sermon, and that they go home and meditate on the Risen Lord. Why not? Do you think, my dear unknown friend, that a new dress or a new bonnet is a hindrance to the meditation of the heart?
What hinders the meditation of the heart and the worship of God is not a new dress, but the devil and our evil lusts that war in our members.
Moreover, the province of meditation is far removed from my judgment and of yours too. It takes place in the heart, and we cannot follow it there. God knows our hearts and the secrets within.
Long ago, I heard of a man who did not believe in colored shirts or neck ties. He went to church in a very severe style, his shirt was black and he wore no tie, abominable idolatries!
But this same man confessed that he was stricken in his conscience during the sermon: he was proud of his black shirt!
Beware! Pride cometh in strange guises!
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And here is a question from the same young friend, I surmise. It is in the same handwriting, it is on the same sheet of paper, and it deals with the same subject.
Here is the question:
“Should Christian parents give Easter candy and toys to their children at Easter-time? There are many other kinds of candy we could give to them, than just Easter eggs and chocolate Easter bunnies.”
At first flush I would say: it makes little difference what kind of candy you hold before the eyes of a healthy youngster. He will gobble up the Easter rabbit of pure chocolate as gladly as your more conservative candy.
But I will add a very important amendment. You, as Christian parents, should take the Easter bunny of pure chocolate and preach a very necessary sermon to your child, and instruct it about the great abominations of Babylon which gave us Santa Claus, the Easter bunnies, Easter bonnets, etc.
But after the grave warnings, and instructions of a positive nature too, you should say: However, my darling, this candy as such is good, and you may now proceed to eat it! Every creature of God is good, taken with thanksgiving. Read and study Romans 14.