I’m a Sabbatarian. What might the recruiter not tell me when encouraging me to enlist in the military?
There are many ethical issues to consider in applying for military service and potential applicants must weigh the pros and cons and decide on spiritual and moral grounds the best course of action. Many devoted Christians find that military lifestyle runs counter to making Christ first in their lives. Peer pressure can be difficult to resist and the Christian may face daunting tests of his commitment to God. Testing of a Christian recruit will often come from superiors as well as from peers.
Of primary concern to Sabbatarians is the fact that all the services require initial training during the Sabbath hours. After Basic Training, Sabbath accommodation is up to your commanding officer and the type of duty you are called to do.
Remember the recruiter’s job is to find new recruits. His promises about the willingness or ability of your superiors to provide Sabbath accommodation can be very empty in the face of military reality.
What is the official Seventh-day Adventist position on military matters?
When military service has been required because of a military draft, Seventh-day Adventists have historically taught non-combatancy. One early document on the subject declared: “Seventh-day Adventists of the United States are registered with our Government as noncombatants. They are always ready to serve without reservation, except bearing arms in combat and doing unnecessary work on the Sabbath day. As a matter of duty and loyalty to human government which is ordained by God, they stand loyally and patriotically with their Government.”
Since the time of the Civil War, the United States Government has acknowledged this position by allowing Seventh-day Adventists to serve as noncombatants in the military.
Individual Seventh-day Adventists may choose other alternatives, however, either abstaining as conscientious objectors or entering the armed service as combatants. While the official church position teaches non-combatancy, the Seventh-day Adventist Church respects individual conscience in this regard.
You can write to the National Service Organization (NSO) for a copy of their very informative booklet For God and Country at:
National Service Organization
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904
Specific military concerns should be directed to:
Larry A Roth, Assistant Director
Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries
Commander, Chaplain Corps, US Navy, Retired