Guest Submission: Military Service In A Pagan World

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By The Commander

Because of the increasing support for the Transgender Agenda with the US Military, Is joining the US Military or recommending or allowing someone under your parental authority or guardianship a mortal sin?

I was recently accused of being an “enemy of Christ” by a fellow traditional Catholic for rejecting the assertion that in today’s increasingly sodomite-friendly US Department of Defense it is a mortal sin to join the US Military or to recommend to or allow someone under your parental authority or guardianship to do so.

As put to me, this assertion is based on some controversy about military service in the early church during the 4th century.  The argument goes– “there was not a single Christian writer in the first three hundred years of Christianity who said that Christians should serve in Rome’s military.” //NB: this is not an argument.  Not saying it is permitted to serve is not saying it is forbidden// (This)… statement, however, deserves closer inspection since there were many Christians who served in Rome’s military; yes, even before Constantine.

Apart from the New Testament, which records several military leaders coming to Christ (Matt 8; Acts 10), we have evidence of a growing number of Christians in Rome’s military from A.D. 173 right up until A.D. 313 (Constantine’s edict to end persecution of Christians). Some of these were converted while serving in the military. Others may have joined as Christians. In any case, one thing is clear: early Christian writers condemned military service among believers.  //NB: Some did. Not all. Many did not comment. It is not, nor has it ever been a Law of the Church. It is interesting to note, that neither Tertullian nor Origen (quoted below) where made or considered to be saints. This is because they got significant things wrong in their theology, though they are still considered Fathers of the Church.//

Tertullian, for instance, wrote an entire treatise forbidding military service among Christians (The Crown) and such sentiment is found throughout his other writings (On Idolatry). Origen too condemned military service whenever he addressed the subject. And Lactantius agreed: “A just man may not be a soldier” (Divine Institutes, 6.20). //NB: Again, never made a Saint//.

Now again, there were Christians in the military before Constantine. But as far as the opinion of early Christian writers goes, historian Alan Kreider was correct that “no Christian theologian before Constantine justified Christian participation in warfare” (“Military Service,” 431).  //NB: Again, not an argument. Not justifying it is NOT condemning it. //

The main question is not whether the theologians permit military service. This much is clear. They condemn it. //NB: Inaccurate statement. Only SOME condemned it. // The question, though, is why? On what grounds are Christians forbidden //NB: They were not forbidden. It was a contested point. Open to debate.  This is NOT nor has it ever been the Church’s official stance on military service. // to join the military?

One reason is idolatry. //NB: the other reason used was the Commandment against killing. This has been disambiguated for over a 1000 years.  Legal civil executions are NOT murder. Killing in combat during military service is NOT murder, etc.// The Roman military was inseparable from Roman religion; to serve one meant serving the other. It would have been virtually impossible to be a Christian soldier and not participate in idolatry. For instance, before embarking on a military campaign, soldiers would take part in various pagan rituals, including sacrificing sheep, bulls, and pigs to purify the army. Similar rituals dominated the postwar celebration. Throughout the legions, soldiers regularly burned incense and offered grain to local deities, and idolatrous symbols everywhere pervaded the camps.

It’s not that Christian soldiers couldn’t worship Jesus alongside other Roman gods. Well and good. But no soldier could worship a single deity (such as Jesus) without honoring the others. “[T]he totality of Roman army religion was an impressive system,” wrote one historian. “[It] would be impossible for any Christian in the army to avoid dealing with it in one way or another” (Helgeland et al., Christians and the Military, 54). Christians were clearly forbidden to join the military on account of idolatry.

But idolatry wasn’t the only reason military service was forbidden. Christians weren’t allowed to join because killing is wrong in principle. And several writers made this plain.

Lactantius, in the quote we read, said that “a just man may not be a soldier” and not because of idolatry. His reason was that “killing itself is banned” and “killing a human being is always wrong” (Divine Institutes, 6.20). Tertullian spoke out most frequently against Christians joining the military and often appealed to idolatry as the main reason. But killing was another reason. In arguing whether “a believer can become a soldier,” he unambiguously said no: “The Lord, by taking away Peter’s sword”—referring to the incident in Gethsemane—“disarmed every soldier thereafter.” Then, in the very next statement, Tertullian said: “We are not allowed to wear any uniform that symbolizes a sinful act.” That “act” refers back to wielding a sword that Jesus took away. Military service is wrong because killing is wrong. Origen also, in a lengthy treatise, said that Christians are not to participate in war, even if they are just wars (Against Celsum 8.73). His entire argument was governed by a rigorous defense of the nonviolent character of the Christian faith. Again, as Origen said earlier, Christians are prohibited from killing even the guilty.”

Now it has been equated that the push to promote the Transgender agenda in the US Military is equivalent to the apparent pushing of idolatry in the Roman military.  Now, interestingly, the one who brought this point of view to my attention has killed in combat, so he rejects that part of the 4th century argument.

It is important to note that sodomy is STILL illegal in the UCMJ.  To wit:

Punitive Articles of the UCMJ

Article 125 – ;



(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient
to complete the offense.

(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall by punished as a court-martial may direct.”

Thus, legally, within the UCMJ, no one can be compelled to support or seem to support an illegal action. Transgender ideology is intimately linked with the normalization and promotion of sodomy. So, no matter what orders, directives or policies are made within USDoD, no one can be forced to support or appear to support sodomy.

Also, the recent Supreme Court decision in MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP, LTD., ET AL. v. COLORADO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION ET AL. impliess no one can be forced to support sodomy or events supporting sodomy. So, no matter what orders, directives or policies are made within in any USA entities, no one can be forced to support or appear to support sodomy.

The core of the ruling states:

In Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, supra, the Court made clear that the government, if it is to respect the Constitution’s guarantee of free exercise, cannot impose

17 Cite as: 584 U. S. ____ (2018) Opinion of the Court regulations that are hostile to the religious beliefs of affected citizens and cannot act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices. The Free Exercise Clause bars even “subtle departures from neutrality” on matters of religion. Id., at 534. Here, that means the Commission was obliged under the Free Exercise Clause to proceed in a manner neutral toward and tolerant of Phillips’ religious beliefs. The Constitution “commits government itself to religious tolerance, and upon even slight suspicion that proposals for state intervention stem from animosity to religion or distrust of its practices, all officials must pause to remember their own high duty to the Constitution and to the rights it secures.”

So, the argument falls apart on several levels; theological, legal, and logical.  However, some debate, the advocate of this position still maintained it is a mortal sin to serve in the military or advise anyone to serve. I told him this is wrong. It is a prudential matter. One can certainly advise against serving, but one cannot say it is a mortal sin.

To equate serving in or allowing or recommending service within the US Military as a mortal sin is confusing the hyperbole of certain traditional Catholic priests who say such things as “allowing your child to attend a secular school or university is a mortal sin” with actual Theological principles or Church law.  Such parental decisions are prudential matters.  Circumstances and institutions vary. Abrogating one’s parental duties in advising and choosing the mode of a child’s education are serious matters and affect our eternal destiny to be sure, but such blanket and hyperbolic statements are very dangerous and misleading.

Virtually all historical treatments of just war recognize the importance of the account given by Thomas Aquinas in Summa theologiae II-II, q. 40, ‘De bello’, where he outlines three conditions – legitimate authority, just cause, and right intention – for a justifiable use of armed force. It is, however, less well known that within the same section of the work (q. 50, a. 4) Aquinas extended his reflection on just war into a theory of military prudence. By placing generalship under the category of ‘prudence’, rather than ‘art’ or ‘science’, he held that military command involves more than a morally neutral skill with victory as its sole aim. Building on the premise that service to the common good constitutes the overarching purpose of the military profession, Aquinas showed how the virtue of prudence provides an inner compass for decision-making amid the uncertainty and confusion of the battlefield.

If you think that faith and the military are mutually exclusive, consider Paragraph 2310 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states:

Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.”

If one is called to serve one’s nation by joining the military, that calling doesn’t mean an abandonment of faith, but rather an abundance of faith. By faithfully carrying out one’s duties, whether on the battle front or by supporting the soldier, one can be a light in a dark world, pursuing freedom and security for the benefit of others.
Ways to Assist
• Pray for those who serve in the Military Ordinariate of the Armed forces, including the many chaplains who spiritually lead troops
• Pray for the wisdom of our military leaders
• Pray for victory over the enemy
• Pray for the strength and protection for all military personnel and their families

Is it possible for a Catholic to fight for his country when he knows that it has become, effectively, a pagan empire? The answer is found in the principles of the just war. Even a pagan country can act in self-defense and, to a greater than lesser degree, fight for what is just and defend the rights of its citizens. The individual can presume that his government has, in general, followed the long-accepted principles of a just war, unless it is clearly not the case. If the motives and facts are unclear, he can presume in favor of his sovereign and fight for his country if necessary. Even if his country, while prosecuting a war, commits acts that are not morally justified, he can fight, if the overall cause seems to be good. Errors and excesses are part of every war, even if the cause is noble.

Individuals who fight in a war, even if they are forced to serve on the side that is unjust, can be virtuous. If they intend to do what is just and they act in a manner that is in accordance with Catholic moral principles, they can gain grace and grow in goodness. If they fight, but not out of anger or vengeance; if they treat prisoners, non-combatants, sacred places and persons and property according to Catholic moral principles; they can actually grow in holiness while fighting for their sovereign. If they offer their lives to the service of Our Lord and Our Lady and treat both friend and foe with Catholic Charity, they cannot only grow in virtue, but also win others to the One True Faith — on and off the battlefield. They can baptize or pray with those in danger of death. They can practice any and all of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy — counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, visiting the sick, burying the dead, and so forth. If one reads the lives of the early Christian saints, he is struck by the number of soldiers in their august company.

One more serious matter needs to be considered. What is a Catholic to do if he chooses to fight for his country or to simply join the military and, in the course of his service or a war, is given an order to do something that he knows for certain is morally wrong or goes directly against his Catholic Faith? For example, let us say he is ordered to shoot down prisoners of war or destroy innocent non-combatants. God willing, he will never be faced with this choice. If it happens, however, that he must choose between obeying the order to commit a sin (or something he knows is unjust) or suffer the consequences of refusing to obey an order, the Catholic must choose to obey the higher law — that of God and of the Church. He may have to suffer severe personal consequences for his choice to obey God’s Law rather than the command to commit an immoral act. He could be court-martialed and even executed for disobeying a direct order. These are not easy decisions to make. Neither were these choices easy for the great martyr-soldiers like Saint Sebastian, Saint Joan of Arc, Saints Maurice, Victor, and the members of the Theban Legion, along with countless others who chose to remain faithful witnesses to the Truths of their Faith in the face of severe penalties — even death.

This goes for being ordered or pressured to support sodomy or to seem to support sodomy, or any other mortal sin. He may have to suffer severe personal consequences for his choice to obey God’s Law rather than the command to commit an immoral act, such as prosecution (though for the reasons stated above, I deem he would eventually be acquitted), obstruction his career progression, loss of job and skill building opportunities, ridicule and scorn from his peers and leaders, etc. If the laws of the State should change, then he may, indeed, be court-martialed for disobeying a direct order.

In a fallen world, this has always been the danger of being in the world, and not a part of the world, as all Catholics are adjured to do. For, indeed, in a post-Christian, paganized world, we are all faced with the same challenges in our places of work and daily lives among our fellows.

However, this does not mean we should retreat and give all our institutions into the hands of the enemy. The Great Commission we are all given by Our Lord to Spread the Good News and work for the re-establishment of the Social Reign of Jesus Christ and the conversion of sinners requires us to fight the good fight within the confines of our state of in life, even if it is dangerous and perilous to body, mind and soul. We must trust in God, and His Divine Providence, that if we truly seek to follow His Will, we will be protected from eternal damnation, if not from worldly destruction.



© 2019, Anthony Stine. All rights reserved. You may reuse or copy this post by giving credit and providing a link.

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