emphasis is that in conscientious objection to participation
in carnal warfare, there must follow a corresponding harmony
in the lifestyle of the objector. In the past, especially
in the period of military draft, conscientious objectors
have been closely investigated by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation in an effort to determine the validity of
the objectors sincerity. Christians welcome the inquiry.
individual's Christian influence for good is vital if the
church is to maintain her image of purity among the world.
When personal conduct violates basic Christian ethics,
with the guilty party demanding purity at other levels
(such as non-participation in war), the integrity of the
person is immediately suspect. Christian conduct is always
important, but when an issue as volatile as objection to
the military is involved, conduct is even more important
(if this is possible) due to the sometimes unreasonable
scrutiny of Christians' lives by unbelievers.
people must not be simply objectors to carnal warfare.
The objection must be a conscientious objection springing
from a Bible trained conscience. How else could it be a
past procedure of the FBI to conduct inquiry into the conscientious
objector's background was in view of the draft. To this
writer, the investigation was beneficial for all involved.
It provided the government with needed information and
gave the Christian individual an additional impetus to
carefully watch his conduct. But even to the church at
large, it added yet another dimension to the necessity
of God's people, both young and old, living above reproach.
It is interesting to note of what the inquiries consisted.
T. Ritchie writes: "The agents who investigated me
wanted to know about many things. Had I ever been engaged
in a playground fight at school? What about my habits?
Did I smoke, drink, dance, or curse? They were even interested
in the type of girls I dated. They seemed to have a good
idea of what should characterize one who claims to be opposed
to war because of the teachings of Christ."
Smith has a brother who serves on the board which reviews
conscientious objectors. He informed her that they go back
to when these persons were children and then follow their
steps through life, including such things as racing, partying,
etc. They talk to their teachers, neighbors, classmates,
and employers. He says they take into consideration what
crowd they associate with, any police records, and related.
But, he assures, the investigation is not to be "mean" so
to speak, but only out of fairness to those who are serious
about their commitment to God as opposed to those who may
B. Lasater writes the following in Vital Doctrinal Essays. "I
well remember when an FBI man came to interview me in the
early 1940's. Some of the questions he asked were: 'Do
you attend church regularly? Do you smoke? Do you attend
the movies? Do you take active part in church services?
When did you first begin to formulate this position as
an objector? Have you ever stated publicly or written your
objections to military service?' I also remember when I
reported for physical examination. I was routed to a waiting
room with some others. The bench where we waited was (so
innocently) well supplied with pornographic reading material,
comic books, and only one or two books like Time or Reader's
Digest. There was also a sergeant at the desk supposedly
filling out forms, but he could watch the actions of each
of us in the room to know our reading interests. In addition
to these questions, I was asked many questions from the
Scriptures. They asked questions concerning places where
I worked and places I previously worked. They went to neighbors
asking about my life, my talk, and my companions. This
vividly reminds me of 1 Tim. 4:16, Take heed unto thyself
and unto the doctrine; continue in them... The world observes
us as we give heed to self and doctrine. They know when
we become careless and let slip that doctrine which we
have heard and obeyed. It is at times like these that the
world renders its harsh judgment against Christians and
decides we are not sincere."
cannot be stressed overmuch that Christian's must live
their convictions. And we here register a special emphasis
directed to our young men and women who are of the age
when so many things are before them as temptations. It
only smacks of insincerity when one objects to involvement
in carnal warfare, yet is loose and worldly in daily Christian
living. These discrepancies are observed by all and only
serve to generate doubt regarding one's sincerity.
from godly living, there are a few precautions which should
be taken by the sincere pacifist.
It would be wise to begin a file regarding objection to
carnal warfare early on in a young Christian's life—as
soon as this conviction is formed, and is personal and
sincere. Printed materials or any related matter could
be filed. Certainly anything related to the objector's
own convictions. Date everything!
The pacifist should write down his convictions in a clear
and concise way, making certain they are supported by the
Scriptures. It could make some difference and may be to
advantage to do this prior to registering at age eighteen.
Although there is no place on the registration card to
state one's position, some simply make a note of their
being a conscientious objector on the face of the card.
The conscientious objector must know where he stands.
He (or she) should make certain that others know his feelings
relative to war. Where possible, these convictions should
be stated publicly. Ideally, every young man could teach
his convictions in the public assembly of the church, even
if the sermon is very brief. It is wise to note the date
and place of delivery, with a notation of those who may
have been present as witnesses to the stated convictions.
Certainly, file a copy of notes or outline used.
It seems superfluous to say that an objector to carnal
warfare should live a life consistent with his or her claims.
Public demonstrations or protests do nothing to enhance
the image of the pacifist community. It is this writer's
personal conviction that they generate prejudice and do
much to harm our cause. I would strongly encourage non-participation
in any such demonstration. The draft card burning of the
sixties was uncalled for and only tarnished the image of
even Christian objectors.
everything, the objector must know what he believes and
live what he knows.
Light, March, 2006