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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
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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.

 
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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.
  • Nick Bowen

    Thank you! Your encouragement is seen in your godliness. Keep up the love my friend.

  • Deinmark Arcabal

    Many people make the mistake of reading what the Bible says in Exodus 20:13, “You shall not kill,” and then seeking to apply this command to war. However, the Hebrew word literally means “the intentional, premeditated killing of another person with malice; murder.” God often ordered the Israelites to go to war with other nations (1 Samuel 15:3; Joshua 4:13). God ordered the death penalty for numerous crimes (Exodus 21:12, 15; 22:19; Leviticus 20:11). So, God is not against killing in all circumstances, but only murder. War is never a good thing, but sometimes it is a necessary thing. In a world filled with sinful people (Romans 3:10-18), war is inevitable. Sometimes the only way to keep sinful people from doing great harm to the innocent is by going to war.

    In the Old Testament, God ordered the Israelites to “take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites” (Numbers 31:2). Deuteronomy 20:16-17 declares, “However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them…as the LORD your God has commanded you.” Also, 1 Samuel 15:18 says, “Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.” Obviously God is not against all war. Jesus is always in perfect agreement with the Father (John 10:30), so we cannot argue that war was only God’s will in the Old Testament. God does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17).

    Jesus’ second coming will be exceedingly violent. Revelation 19:11-21 describes the ultimate war with Christ, the conquering commander who judges and makes war “with justice” (v. 11). It’s going to be bloody (v. 13) and gory. The birds will eat the flesh of all those who oppose Him (v. 17-18). He has no compassion upon His enemies, whom He will conquer completely and consign to a “fiery lake of burning sulfur” (v. 20).

    It is an error to say that God never supports a war. Jesus is not a pacifist. In a world filled with evil people, sometimes war is necessary to prevent even greater evil. If Hitler had not been defeated by World War II, how many more millions would have been killed? If the American Civil War had not been fought, how much longer would African-Americans have had to suffer as slaves?

    War is a terrible thing. Some wars are more “just” than others, but war is always the result of sin (Romans 3:10-18). At the same time, Ecclesiastes 3:8 declares, “There is…a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” In a world filled with sin, hatred, and evil (Romans 3:10-18), war is inevitable. Christians should not desire war, but neither are Christians to oppose the government God has placed in authority over them (Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:17). The most important thing we can be doing in a time of war is to be praying for godly wisdom for our leaders, praying for the safety of our military, praying for quick resolution to conflicts, and praying for a minimum of casualties among civilians on both sides (Philippians 4:6-7).

  • Nick Bowen

    I was called to be a pastor by Christ. I can tell you that if you go into the line of work where taking a persons life may be a possibility, you must also be prepared to stand before God with clear of consciousness and answer for every life you decided to take. With that said, know what repenting means (mean it from your heart). Do your best to think like Jesus daily. Trust your gut and follow your heart. He will steer you in the right direction and won’t allow you to be tempted past what you can’t handle. Again know Him, read His word daily, and know to Repent. I can’t say that all killing, hence, police or military is to protect God’s people now days. Pray to Our Father for clarity on this subject.

    • Deinmark Arcabal

      Follow your heart? But heart is deceitful remember

      • Nick Bowen

        It can be if you haven’t been saved by Jesus. If you do not deny yourself daily and carry your cross, you are not aiming to follow the only heart that matters. I battle with worldly things daily. Satan wants your mind, heart, and soul back. Especially when it rest with The Lord.

  • veronika

    I want to became SWAT and can please some one tell me if I go to hell if I kill e.g. ”terrorists” or really criminals? I love God and I pray for him everyday and I believe in him but I’m really intersted in this job because it seems exciting . PLEASE can someone try to answer

  • Colleen Bartlett

    I’m 14 and I’m considering joining you a special forces or otherwise known as green berets i’m a pretty devoted Christian but I never go to church I pray on occasions and and I was wondering if I were to kill people would I go to hell.(and I’m using my sisters email)

    • veronika

      in the bible says that no one who killed somebody will never be in the kingdom of heaven. In the future I want to became SWAT and I have same question because If I’m SWAT and I would need to kill someone I’m scared I would go to hell.. I’m very religous and I would never imagine that I killed someone, but I think this job is really excited and I really want to do this. I think no matters what you go to hell when you killed someone.. That’s why I’m confused about this job

    • Nick Bowen

      Read my comment above.

  • 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

      YOUR AN IDIOT

    • 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.

      • Jessica Jackson

        Don’t tell her lies….she will go to heaven Jesus says admit that your a sinner believe that Jesus is gods son and confess your faith in Jesus and turn from sin

      • Jessica Jackson

        No sweety as long as you believe that Jesus is your savior and lord and he died and rose again to pay for your sins you will not Jesus loves you and he wants you in heaven with him sweety

      • Nick Bowen

        Very well said. May God bless you. Children are fragile, this world is cold. As brothers and sisters we must try to help one another not condemn.

    • Jessica Jackson

      Who are you to false preach…i serve a mighty God..before Jesus came along God was in control and showed no mercy when it came to sin.but when Jesus died on the cross and paid for our sins we now have mercy…jesus says not one sin out ways another…he said turn from your wicked ways seek my face and I shall heal the land…so don’t false preach….and tell lies…Jesus said I despise a liar they can’t even tery in my eye sight….

      • Crystalskyes

        I have told no lies so far so what nonsense are you spewing out of your mouth or should I say, keyboard?

      • Thomas Prosho

        My father, a Catholic, is soldier, however he has not killed another man. He worked in the army medical Corp as a operation department practitioner, all he did was treat wounds of the fellow servicemen and injured unarmed enemies but his PTSD is a punishment from God? I’d like to think that my father had done all he could to help all that came upon his operating table because he is a good man and a better father.

      • Crystalskyes

        For the record, dear Thomas, Catholics are not real followers of Christ. Want proof? Look at the pope’s eyes, they look evil as demons. And the fact that the Vatican “church” is responsible for creating Islam in the 500 AD period give or take 50 years. Reality is very sobering. If my dad did that and got ptsd, I say he deserved it and perhaps would have been smarter and wiser if he had looked to do a better more moral profession before having the cheek to say that he is “Christ” anything at all. Most “christians” don’t have Christ in their lives yet dare call me wicked for calling them out on their sins. If you are living in sin, Christ isn’t letting you into Heaven, period.
        You all better repent of past sins and sin no more if you want to even have a chance of entering Heaven at all.
        The real followers of Christ are born again holy spirit filled evangelical protestants that rely ONLY on the Holy KJV bible as the standard of correction of all moral behaviour, yours and others, needless to say, it is the book I live by and follow with all I got.

      • Maria

        I am in awe at how ignorant your responses are…” Look at the pope’s eyes, they look evil as demons”. That’s your response? I almost want to laugh at that–or cry.
        There is a smart, researched and well thought out answer to why some religions/branches cannot be considered followers of Christ, but you….you just ruin any chance of those people seeing the beauty of the Word of God, the mercy, the grace and the compassion that Christ has offered. Please, just get off the internet.

      • Crystalskyes

        If you think I am going to spoonfeed you all the proof of the Vatican being evil, think again, lazy bastard. If you are so bloody interested, do your own leg work.

      • Deinmark Arcabal

        God ascended into heaven, without leaving any Religion, God teaches about love, forgiveness and relationship with Him. Religion cannot save us. If there has catholic that’s not a real Christian their is also at born again christian, don’t generalize.

    • Nick Bowen

      Woahh brother preach with grace and love. Let’s take a step back and acknowledge that all sin is sin, all in the same. All sin deserves a life in Hell. Thank God for Jesus Christ. If you’re going to give advice try not accuse others but aim to preach from the shoes they wear.

      • Crystalskyes

        Anyone who helps the military industrial complex is working for Satan. God made it clear that you cannot serve 2 masters. Deal with the fact that God won’t allow hypocrites into Heaven. Otherwise, Heaven wouldn’t be Heaven with hypocrites that think God is just going to forgive people who don’t repent and apologize for serving the evil elites (or more commonly known as “serving then nation” sounds so much nicer right? Bunch for liars you all are).

      • Nick Bowen

        Your anger is not helping you represent Christ to the fullest. You’re in my prayers. You have a lot of passion to see to it that people fulfill the Christian way of life.. I agree about Repenting and your comments on Hypocrites but you cannot condemn others. Many make mistakes. Many go into the military or become cops without the knowledge that maybe you have. Be more positive in your approach and more gentle with your words and God will use you more. Don’t judge the people of this world for their choices. Respect others. Our job as Christians is to love and help one another, as well as teach others by example.

      • Crystalskyes

        I wonder if your slow gentle approach that many “christians” use is part of the reason why no one is really getting saved. I do believe that it is exactly because you “christians” keep lying about God being this weak God that is all nice and cuddly and this God that loves just about anyone, even damn murderers, rapists and homosexuals. God is to be feared, even more than Satan. No. He has sent many of such people into Hell. People better watch themselves.
        I don’t respect anyone that doesn’t repent sincerely and shun all sin. I say they believe in the Gospel in vain, they are wasting their time, my time and God’s time AND giving real followers of God like myself a terrible reputation.
        Thanks for nothing (message to all hypocritical “christians”)

      • Nick Bowen

        Your belittling of other brothers and sisters is something Jesus would never do. The anger you have does not come from the Father. It’s unfortunate you feel this way. You cannot judge. Plain and simple. No one lied about God being weak, not sure how you got that out of my message. You shouldn’t swear in your language either. It is not what goes into a mans mouth that defiles him but what leaves a mans mouth that defiles him… Be someone to comfort and help others learn God through Christ, not condemn. It isn’t your job brother. Take care.

      • Crystalskyes

        First of all, I didn’t swear in my previous message. Secondly, it is my place to judge as a real follower of Yahweh. God said I am to judge righteously (meaning by His own Word). Tell me which part of the bible says to comfort a murderer and sympathize for his sin. I am really curious, I will make it easier for you, point to be the verses (read in context) that say that we need to baby sinners as if they don’t already know they shouldn’t be sinning.

      • Crystalskyes

        Thankfully, it is not for you to say. The fact that you said “You cannot judge.”tells me you are full of crap, just like pagan christians.
        Good bye.

      • Deinmark Arcabal

        The most better thing you can do to your fellowmen is to LOVE them and the worst is to CONDEMN them.

      • Deinmark Arcabal

        “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

        Luke 6:37

      • Deinmark Arcabal

        Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.

        2 Timothy 2:4

    • Maria

      You definitely need to listen to yourself more often, and talk less because you are harming more than you do good. Using God’s name in VAIN is a sin…I guess you didn’t make it to the 1%, did you?

      You say you are the 1%, but your narcissistic heart is full of hate, ignorance and arrogance. Its sad, really.
      Here’s what God thinks about it:

      “For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” 1Corinthians 4:7
      Listen to yourself more (2 ears), talk less (1 mouth).
      Good day,

  • 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

      • Nick Bowen

        Jesus also said to Repent for your sins. We can not judge one for sin is sin regardless what it is. Love is what He commanded.

    • Jessica Jackson

      Sweety Jesus says no sin out ways another….with that being said murder don’t out way lying…they are the Same…before Jesus came along God was in control and he showed no mercy to sinners….but when Jesus came along we were giving mercy…and when Jesus died on the cross he paid for our sins so we can have a chance at eternal life….jesus says turn from your wicked ways seek my face and I shall heal the land. If you want to be a cop…i say go for it…because the god I serve…is a mighty God…and forgiving of all sins…he paid for your sins so you wouldn’t have to…..im not say kill to just do it …..but if you were in that situation…dont ever think god will send you to hell…jesus said it his self…he said if I am for you I am more than this world against 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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