The question that changed Michael Izbicki’s life appeared on a psychological exam he took not long after graduating in 2008 near the top of his class at the United States Naval Academy: If given the order, would he launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?Ensign Izbicki said he would not — and his reply set in motion a two-year personal journey and legal battle that ended on Tuesday, when the Navy confirmed that he had been discharged from the service as a conscientious objector.
It would be wrong for me to take a knife and cut someone open. However, a physician can cut someone open when medically necessary. Under most circumstances, it would be wrong for me to take a gun and shoot someone. However, when a nation is threatened, or peace is threatened from within or without, it is acceptable for someone to use deadly force. Disease requiring surgery is a part of our fallen world and violent threats against others that must be met with force are also a part of our fallen world.
This young man has no understanding of vocation - we are called to many different roles/jobs in life with unique responsibilities that would be unacceptable in other roles. Without these necessary roles, our world would descend into chaos.
Our vocations are to serve others. The military serves their fellow countrymen by maintaining order and fighting those who threaten. As long as you can do your job in service to others there is no wrong. The chef serves others by cooking meals, a mother serves by caring for her children, a doctor serves by bringing healing medicine to the sick. We each have many vocations - a few of mine are husband, father, son, filmmaker, brother, neighbor, and co-worker. These are all divine calling wherein I serve God by doing them well. There are some jobs that people have that do not serve others and serve no God-given purpose. The military in not one of them. Here is one quote from Luther on vocation:
The prince should think: Christ has served me and made everything to follow him; therefore, I should also serve my neighbor, protect him and everything that belongs to him. That is why God has given me this office, and I have it that I might serve him. That would be a good prince and ruler. When a prince sees his neighbor oppressed, he should think: That concerns me! I must protect and shield my neighbor....The same is true for shoemaker, tailor, scribe, or reader. If he is a Christian tailor, he will say: I make these clothes because God has bidden me do so, so that I can earn a living, so that I can help and serve my neighbor. When a Christian does not serve the other, God is not present; that is not Christian living.
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