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Author Topic: Orthodox view of the Armed Forces  (Read 13041 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 16, 2007, 06:17:25 AM »

Is there an Orthodox view on serving in the Armed Forces??? I am a member of the Australian Army Reserves. I am in an infantry battalion in an administrative capacity. There is talk of an overseas deployment later this year. Is there a view on killing?? We have rules of deployment, and can only fire if fired upon. Personally, I have no qualms with this, but is there an official church position on this?? Just curious!!
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2007, 06:35:17 AM »

The amount of saints who were soldiers is huge, and the military under the Roman Empire got much praise from the Fathers as an important institution. Orthodox chaplains serve in the U.S. military, and are often the only chaplains permitted in the militaries of Orthodox countries. They bless troops before deployment and pray that God may project them.

For what it's worth, I served in the U.S. Navy before asking for and receiving honourable discharge as a conscientious objector. I doubted that I would find the orders given to me always in keeping with principles of godliness and justice. However, though anyone is free to refrain from serving, no Orthodox Christian can claim that the military in general is an unacceptable institution. There's a group called Orthodox Peace Fellowship that has recently tried very much to claim otherwise, but they are very much pariahs among those for respect for the tradition of the Church.
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« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2007, 05:40:18 PM »

I have served in the regular Army for 28 years of my adult life and have never heard of any Orthodox objections to military service and have always been welcomed in local parishes where I was stationed.  The military has always been supported by the orthodox chaplaincy and local parishes where there were no chaplains.  I remember being at Ft Leonard Wood Missouri in 1963-64 when Father Theodosius Lazor came from Madison, Illinois for a monthly Divine Liturgy - he became later Metropolitan Theodosius.  In Vietnam in 1967-68 we had Fr Margitich in Saigon.  Navy chaplain Fr Boris Geeza went on to become Bishop Boris (OCA).  Navy chaplain Fr, Jerome Cwicklinski with the Marines in Iraq was retired as a Marine before becoming a priest.  The list goes on and on.
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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2007, 07:38:41 PM »

Is there an Orthodox view on serving in the Armed Forces??? I am a member of the Australian Army Reserves. I am in an infantry battalion in an administrative capacity. There is talk of an overseas deployment later this year. Is there a view on killing?? We have rules of deployment, and can only fire if fired upon. Personally, I have no qualms with this, but is there an official church position on this?? Just curious!!

This might not be much help, but I understand that if anyone kills another person, they are denied the Eucharist for a considerable time. Killing, in Orthodoxy, in that it affects the partaking of the Holy Eucharist, does seem to be seen as a quite serious sin. 

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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2007, 12:40:12 AM »

This might not be much help, but I understand that if anyone kills another person, they are denied the Eucharist for a considerable time. Killing, in Orthodoxy, in that it affects the partaking of the Holy Eucharist, does seem to be seen as a quite serious sin. 

Part of it is the view of sin... Part of it is the knowledge that any taking of life seriously affects the person and requires a long period of healing - a period for which partaking of the EUcharist is a goal, not a means.  Even if the killing is "justified" it still directly affects the way people think and act, and to a certain degree shakes them.  Depending on the context and on how much it does affect them, the period of non-Communion can be longer or shorter.
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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2007, 12:56:49 AM »

Part of it is the view of sin... Part of it is the knowledge that any taking of life seriously affects the person and requires a long period of healing - a period for which partaking of the EUcharist is a goal, not a means.  Even if the killing is "justified" it still directly affects the way people think and act, and to a certain degree shakes them.  Depending on the context and on how much it does affect them, the period of non-Communion can be longer or shorter.

Yes, as I said, killing is considered quite a serious sin. And I'll add to that; even if "justified", killing is quite a serious sin.

My priest once mentioned that if he was to cause the death of someone, even accidentally - car accident or something - he would never be able to consecrate the Eucharist. I don't recall if he said that he could remain a priest.


   
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2007, 01:45:49 AM »

Is there an Orthodox view on serving in the Armed Forces???

In the Gospels, how did Jesus relate to members of the military?
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2007, 01:50:56 AM »

In the Gospels, how did Jesus relate to members of the military?

He said; "Father forgive them. For they know not what they do".  Tongue
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2007, 01:56:46 AM »

Let's remember though that St Basil said explicitly that those killing in the army may still be priests though later on.
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2007, 02:01:16 AM »

Let's remember though that St Basil said explicitly that those killing in the army may still be priests though later on.

Post the event, yes. Looks like marriage and killing are level-pegged, doesn't it?  Shocked
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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2007, 02:03:19 AM »

St. Basil even went further to insist that killing in war is not a sin...any penances applied are purely for medicinal reasons and no wrong doing is to be implied. Later bishops and patriarchs would even take it a step further, regarding failure to kill in war as a sin and killing as a virtue...some even suggested that those who died in defence of the empire were to be regarded as martyrs for the faith.
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2007, 08:06:37 AM »

Is there an Orthodox view on serving in the Armed Forces???
The Church prays for the members of the Armed Forces in the Litany of Fervant Supplication:
"We pray for this country, its ruler, its people, civil authorities and armed forces"
St. Barbara is your Patron.
On the Feast of St. Barbara (December 4th) the Greek armed forces celebrate their Patronal Feast.
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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2007, 09:05:48 AM »

I think there's a difference between killing for yourself, and killing to defend your country and family.

Constantine XI did not commit a grave sin when he charged headfirst into Ottoman soldiers, killing multitudes of them before he was struck down.
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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2007, 10:23:20 AM »

The Church prays for the members of the Armed Forces in the Litany of Fervant Supplication:
"We pray for this country, its ruler, its people, civil authorities and armed forces"

And we don't just pray for the armed forces, but also for their victory.

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St. Barbara is your Patron.
On the Feast of St. Barbara (December 4th) the Greek armed forces celebrate their Patronal Feast.

Leave it to the Greeks to mess it up. Wink  St. Barbara's the patron of artillery, St. Maurice of Infantry, St. Andrew of Paratroopers, and St. George of cavalrymen.

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« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2007, 10:28:57 AM »

Leave it to the Greeks to mess it up. Wink  St. Barbara's the patron of artillery, St. Maurice of Infantry, St. Andrew of Paratroopers, and St. George of cavalrymen.

What about amphibious assault vehicles Wink

I and my saint's cavalrymen will be coming up to defend the flanks no matter what!
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« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2007, 11:00:13 AM »

What about amphibious assault vehicles Wink

I and my saint's cavalrymen will be coming up to defend the flanks no matter what!

St. Andrew's also claimed by marines.
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« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2007, 03:33:12 PM »

I wonder who the Patron Saint is of Rome: Total War-ers.  Cheesy

I almost chose St. George. I've always liked his icon, plus he fits my W.A.S.P. heritage.
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« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2007, 06:20:05 PM »

I wonder who the Patron Saint is of Rome: Total War-ers.  Cheesy

I almost chose St. George. I've always liked his icon, plus he fits my W.A.S.P. heritage.

St George was Palestinian and was unheard of in England until the Crusaders brought his cult back with them. As as aside, I have read rumblings about changing the Patron Saint of England. St Alban seems to be leading the race, as he is the first British martyr and native to English soil. 
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« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2007, 06:13:35 PM »

St George was Palestinian and was unheard of in England until the Crusaders brought his cult back with them. As as aside, I have read rumblings about changing the Patron Saint of England. St Alban seems to be leading the race, as he is the first British martyr and native to English soil. 
I think the chances of changing the English patron Saint are very small.  St.Edmund would deserve to be in contention if it were to happen though. 
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« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2007, 06:17:43 PM »

I think the chances of changing the English patron Saint are very small.  St.Edmund would deserve to be in contention if it were to happen though. 

I doubt that it will happen, too. But definitely St Edmund should be a contender! I have actually seen strong support for him.
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« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2007, 08:50:38 PM »

And we don't just pray for the armed forces, but also for their victory.


Troparion of the Cross:

O Lord save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance, granting to them victory over all adversaries and by Thy Cross preserving Thine estate!

This is not to be read only in terms of the warfare we have with the devil but also current wars and strife.  The original text said to grant to the kings (Tsars) victory over the barbarians (i.e. Mongols).

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« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2007, 09:22:05 PM »

The original text said to grant to the kings (Tsars) victory over the barbarians (i.e. Mongols).

I'd have to check Taft, but I imagine the Royal Office (and hence the Royal Troparia) predate the Mongols by at least a few centuries. These hymns became popularized by monastic communities that had been founded and financially supported by the Byzantine royal family, since said monasteries would always read the royal office (asking for barbarian booty kicking and protection of the Lord's system of government (politeuma)) right before the Six Psalms in Orthros.
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« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2012, 05:02:34 PM »

There is absolutely nothing to justify killing - anyone who says that it is ok if they are defending their country or other people, are fooling themselves.
You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth'. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous..."

You cannot justify killing whatsoever ! Can you love your enemy and kill them??? My goodness, whoever says otherwise has distorted the message of Jesus Christ very much.

When they came to arrest Jesus, St Peter drew out his sword, and Jesus rebuked him! How can you people not understand the message that there is no such thing as a "justifiable" or "just" war.

God bless
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« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2012, 05:27:47 PM »

Killing people is wrong in almost all circumstances I would say, like the poster above me. But then again, sometimes if you do not kill someone, then even more people will die and in a way you are responsible for the killing of multiple civilians when you could have just killed a handful of military personnel and protected them. For example, if the US had just sat back the entire time in World War II and did absolutely nothing, then millions more of Europeans would have died.
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« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2012, 05:41:49 PM »

sigh

For those people who would rather allow death, torture, and destruction to continue only to save their own skin or souls.

It's one thing to turn your own cheek. It's another, to look the other way, when one recognizes evil.
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« Reply #25 on: March 17, 2012, 10:23:45 PM »

Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

You make me laugh Aindriu because you think I was saying that by not killing other people we are looking the other way. I love the 'sigh' as well as if your reply is one which speak the truth. You know when Jesus was there to rebuke St Peter, you should of been there to spit in his face and say 'You're wrong, we should slay all these soldiers.'

Or perhaps you should of been there to rebuke the LORD when he was telling Jonah:
“You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

Or perhaps Jesus was fooling around when He said 'Love your enemy'. How can you kill the people Christ has died for? Are the people you are fighting not made in the image of God?

Which one is it sir?
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« Reply #26 on: March 17, 2012, 10:40:06 PM »

And besides, who are you to decide if one should live or not?
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« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2012, 10:42:20 PM »

Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

You make me laugh Aindriu because you think I was saying that by not killing other people we are looking the other way. I love the 'sigh' as well as if your reply is one which speak the truth. You know when Jesus was there to rebuke St Peter, you should of been there to spit in his face and say 'You're wrong, we should slay all these soldiers.'

Or perhaps you should of been there to rebuke the LORD when he was telling Jonah:
“You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

Or perhaps Jesus was fooling around when He said 'Love your enemy'. How can you kill the people Christ has died for? Are the people you are fighting not made in the image of God?

Which one is it sir?
You do realize that the OP asked for an Orthodox view of the armed forces?
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« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2012, 10:49:14 PM »

There is absolutely nothing to justify killing - anyone who says that it is ok if they are defending their country or other people, are fooling themselves.
You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth'. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous..."

You cannot justify killing whatsoever ! Can you love your enemy and kill them??? My goodness, whoever says otherwise has distorted the message of Jesus Christ very much.

When they came to arrest Jesus, St Peter drew out his sword, and Jesus rebuked him! How can you people not understand the message that there is no such thing as a "justifiable" or "just" war.

God bless

You must have missed about 20% of the Orthodox Calendar...
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« Reply #29 on: March 17, 2012, 10:49:45 PM »

So far the discussion has been about killing.  Granted that is what the military has to do to defend our country, which is justifiable, because the verses about turning the other cheek, etc, are about personal attacks. Also, there are many soldiers who have served and never fired a gun, outside of target practice.  Are they not allowed to work in order to support themselves and their families?
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« Reply #30 on: March 17, 2012, 10:53:43 PM »

Also, there are many soldiers who have served and never fired a gun, outside of target practice.  Are they not allowed to work in order to support themselves and their families?
In all fairness to both sides, I suppose the same question could be asked of a stripper.
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« Reply #31 on: March 17, 2012, 11:57:03 PM »

You do realize that the OP asked for an Orthodox view of the armed forces?

You must have missed about 20% of the Orthodox Calendar...

What are you guys saying... I don't understand
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« Reply #32 on: March 18, 2012, 12:05:59 AM »

You do realize that the OP asked for an Orthodox view of the armed forces?
What I'm saying is that I see no evidence to believe you're spouting anything more than your personal interpretation of the Gospel.
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« Reply #33 on: March 18, 2012, 12:09:30 AM »

You do realize that the OP asked for an Orthodox view of the armed forces?

You must have missed about 20% of the Orthodox Calendar...

What are you guys saying... I don't understand
Essentially, they're saying that what you say doesn't represent an Orthodox view and noting that the Church has many feasts celebrating military victory. Orthodox pacifism is a thing, but it's a minority position.
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« Reply #34 on: March 18, 2012, 12:20:08 AM »

So what exactly is the Orthodox view?
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« Reply #35 on: March 18, 2012, 12:20:49 AM »

The God of the OT certainly isn't a pacifist...
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« Reply #36 on: March 18, 2012, 12:21:55 AM »

The God of the New Testament is
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« Reply #37 on: March 18, 2012, 12:25:07 AM »

People often revert back to the Old Testament,
but didn't Christ address this when he said:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.
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« Reply #38 on: March 18, 2012, 12:27:07 AM »

The God of the New Testament is

Jesus was not opposed to self defense, at least.

Luke 22:36

 36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.
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« Reply #39 on: March 18, 2012, 12:27:40 AM »

I think that statement is pretty clear.. or am I wrong? Or as PetertheAleut has said - 'I have spout out my personal interpretation?'
Is the translation wrong?
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« Reply #40 on: March 18, 2012, 12:29:07 AM »

You see that's a personal interpretation right there...
@orthocat
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« Reply #41 on: March 18, 2012, 12:31:09 AM »

So what exactly is the Orthodox view?
I dunno. As with most times when you ask this question, three different Orthodox Christians will give you four different answers. If you're intersted,  here is a publication about non-violence from an Orthodox perspective.
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« Reply #42 on: March 18, 2012, 12:31:19 AM »

You see that's a personal interpretation right there...
@orthocat

Why else do you think Jesus would tell his disciples to sell their cloaks and buy a sword? It's not like they lived in the jungle. The best case scenario for pacifism, it would advocate at least self defense.
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« Reply #43 on: March 18, 2012, 12:32:12 AM »

So what exactly is the an Orthodox view?

Yours and I agree with it.
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« Reply #44 on: March 18, 2012, 12:36:27 AM »

Hey Opus118,

It's a tragedy that the others don't think so. I wish they did, not because 'It is my personal interpretation' but simply because it is the Truth.
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