The issue of whether Christians, and in particular Seventh-day Adventists, should voluntarily join the military is a matter of continuing debate. In 2008, former General Conference president Jan Paulsen wrote a stirring article on the topic for Adventist World, “Clear Thinking on Military Service” in which he argued that the church cannot afford to be morally ambiguous about the topic and that the church should recognize the primary role of being an agent of God’s grace.
Here are a couple of excerpts:
“War, peace, and participation in military service are not morally neutral issues. Scripture is not silent on these things, and the church, as it interprets and expresses the principles of Scripture, must be a voice of moral authority and influence. This is not an “optional” responsibility—one that we can put aside should it become uncomfortable or go against majority feeling. If we are silent, we fail in our duty to God and to humanity.”
“Every human being, no matter what their choices or conduct, is of infinite value to God. As the church expresses itself on this issue and offers counsel to both its own members and broader society, it must never allow itself to forget this one unchangeable fact: the God we serve is a healer and a Savior. Healing and saving are also the first business of the church. As individuals struggle with these questions—and perhaps make choices that, in hindsight, they wish they had not—the church must constantly reflect God’s infinite, healing love.”
I feel especially for those individuals who have taken the “calculated risk” and find themselves drawn into a combat situation, the very position they had hoped and prayed to avoid. They see no way out. What should their church say to them? “I told you so?” “Shame on you?” No! The church is a ministering, healing, saving community. This is the moment when a young person, regardless of poor choices or wrong turns, needs to feel the embrace of their church. ”