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Our readers asked:

Will Soldiers Go to Hell if They Kill Someone?

Neela Kale Answers:

Q: Soldiers in war are technically killing other sons and daughters of God in an effort to protect our country. Will this affect their fate on Judgment Day? Is it wrong to thank them upon their return home even though they’ve sinned?

Never hesitate to thank a returning soldier for his or her service to our country. (Thank you, veterans!) Military service cannot be reduced to any single act, and these returning veterans and their families need all the support they can get in response to their sacrifice and generosity. It is not your job to examine their consciences. Many of these men and women return home struggling with the psychological and spiritual consequences of their actions in the line of duty; they need to address these issues with the help of qualified counselors and spiritual advisors.

That said, your question raises an important issue for our collective conscience as a society, which bears the responsibility for sending its sons and daughters to war. People of all times and place have wrestled with war’s destructive effects. Is war ever justified? Is a particular act of war justified? Is military action acceptable only in self-defense? How about action to protect defenseless peoples elsewhere in the world? Or preemptive action against an impending threat? And, of course, moving from the abstract to the horrific, complex, bloody reality of our time and place: How do we assess recent U.S. military intervention in the Middle East? These questions are better confronted in our civic discourse, rather than in the interactions we have with individual veterans upon their return home. Christian witnessing for peace can be powerful, but should not come at the expense of the individual men and women who bear the cost — in their bodies and in their souls — of the devastation of war.

The Author : Neela Kale
Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Henry Lafontaine

    Jesus stated that many wars will be in his name, just cause that’s what they name it does not mean that’s what it is. God knows this.
    The ones who lead the people are responsible for that sin. Don’t be fooled to think there will be no justice. there is.
    Just don’t blame the ones that followed that order, but blame the one responsible for that order. You would see most of the people that need to follow despise themselves to follow such orders strongly.
    or are just ignorant of what they do. They are sheep, they follow a Shepard. Sad it may be there are too many victims of a bad leader.

  • Crystalskyes

    Yes they will go to Hell. Go said “do not kill.”.
    He didn’t say “Do not kill unless you are paid to”
    No excuses or exception unless that person is trying to kill you.
    I believe that anyone who joins the military is not a real christian and will go to hell unless they repent of their sin of “serving the nation” because most wars today are NOT warranted and not okayed by God.
    National service training is okay but actual war combat? No, if you go, you should go to Hell for going there in the first place.
    In the Old Testament, they had to kill “people” because they knew that they wanted to cause harm to the children of Israel. It is justified and ordained by God Himself. God literally gave the thumbs up and COMMANDED that they did it. but even they didnt do a clean job of it and that is why Israel was disbanded and re-established less than a century ago.

    This is why so many war “veterans” suffer from PTSD because this is their due punishment from God. All will reap what they sow, whether or not you call yourself a christian or not.

    • Tammy Tuttle Singleton


    • omar carreras

      You really are an idiot…wow..

    • Katy

      I’m nine. If I were to drop dead now, will I go to heaven?

      • Crystalskyes

        It depends. Chances are, nope.

  • Michael Salamone

    Im a Christian and I am thinking of becoming a cop I just don’t want to kill any one. People have told me they have no hesitation to kill me you are just defending yourself, but idk I really don’t want to kill any one I don’t want to have that on me when I die and meet God and have to look him in the eyes knowing what I “did”. You know it’s a hard decision. I want to be able to protect people take criminals off the street but if it comes down to someone shooting at me and I draw my gun is it just if I kill that person? I don’t want to but I need to protect myself as well. Can someone help me?

    • Robert McDaniel

      Jesus told us to obey the laws of the land and people who break them are subject to the penalty’s of such, also Jesus said that don’t fear them the cops for they arey to serve the laws but if you break the law you have reason to fear them for they bear the sword, no one wants to kill, but murders, yes accedents happen, that’s a different ruling, yet if you have to take a life then that’s what happens to people who break the rules and want to fight to get away or kill you

  • Palpatine

    In order for sin to be mortal and evil there has to be choice and intention. Each case is so different and complex its beyond our ability to make that judgment.

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