Noncombatant or Conscientious Objector — Which?
Inspiration’s Own Answer to Both Church and Government
In World War II, some of our men registered as noncombatants, and some as conscientious objectors, but the Association’s position was more on the side of noncombatant registration, with a special request for the concessions set forth in the following instrument, entitled
DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES UNDERLYING THE DAVIDIAN SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS’ STAND ON MILITARY SERVICE
PREMISE: A thorough-going fundamentalism, born of the whole-souled conviction of the plenary Inspiration of the Bible, morally constrains us, in the solemn consideration of military service, respectfully to submit the position herewith conscientiously set forth; to wit:
PRINCIPLE ONE: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God….not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake….Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.” Rom. 13:1, 5, 7.
This keystone principle is further enforced upon our conscience in the injunction laid upon us by The Testimonies For The Church (our interpretationaI authority ): “The people of God will recognize human government as an ordinance of
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divine appointment, and will teach obedience to it as a sacred duty within its legitimate sphere.” — Testimonies, Vol. 6, p. 402.
PRINCIPLE TWO: The statutory laws of the Old Testament (Lev. 20:10-14; Deut. 22:22-30), imposing under that dispensation the death sentence for violation of the sanctity of the home, charges a Christian with the accountability to use whatever measures as are within his power to protect the chastity of wife and children.
PRINCIPLE THREE: Old Testament history shows that when the church was a theocratic government with all its subjects in their own land (Palestine), they were duty-bound to defend their homeland when invaded by enemies, or when they were commanded by God to do so for reasons consistent with His eternal purpose in that dispensation.
Therefore, were we in such estate today (with all our Christian brethren in one homeland), we could not be conscientious objectors, but would be bound, Biblically, to defend our country, as did ancient Israel theirs. However, our Christian brethren today being scattered throughout many nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples, then should this country become embroiled in war with another country, we as Christians in this country, if not exempted from combatant military service, would be set against Christians in another country.
PRINCIPLE FOUR: There is however, a complementary consideration which we as Christians dare not ignore: the duty devolving upon us from the example of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), to succor the wounded who fall prey to the “robbers.” In the light of this high Christian obligation, we could not conscientiously “pass by on the other side” of wounded compatriots, as did “the priest” and “the Levite,” but must, as the Lord’s followers, consent to serve in the capacity of medical missionaries — stretcher bearers, ambulance drivers, attendants, nurses, doctors, or chaplains — ministering to the needy, the sick, the wounded, and the dying; or in a spiritual way, to the able-bodied.
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PRINCIPLE FIVE: Our faith, nevertheless, does not disallow our serving, save on the seventh day of the week, in any other noncombatant capacities which do not violate the integrity of those principles enumerated herein.
PRINCIPLE SIX: As a basic condition, such noncombatant capacity, our faith, like Daniel’s (Dan. 1:8), imposes upon us a food regimen — a strict vegetarianism which, as a long-established way of living, would make physically as well as morally impossible either our subsisting on or relishing the regular army fare in the same way as do those who do not have our dietetic compunctions.
PRINCIPLE SEVEN: And being Sabbatarians, our engaging on the seventh day in any noncombatant service or training other than that specified under Principle Four, would violate our sense of religious propriety in the sacred matter of weekly Sabbath (Saturday) observance (Ex. 20:8-1 1).
TENTATIVE CONCLUSION: While Principles One, Two, and Three lead us to sign Statement A. Principles Four and Five restrict the scope of our noncombatant military connection to the activities specified or allowed for therein-under, as qualified by Principles Six and Seven.
CONTINGENT CONCLUSION: Should the Selective Service Regulations authorities honor the position herein set forth — noncombatant service with vegetarian diet and Sabbath privileges — enjoined upon us by our faith, we then, in all conscience must sign Statement A.
As the Selective Service Authority did not find itself in a position to grant us the twofold consideration (“noncombatant service with vegetarian diet and Sabbath privileges”) which our foregoing declaration of Scripture-imposed principles invoke, their decision closed tight to us the door of possibility for military service in
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any capacity, and left the Association no course morally but that which the Scriptures opened to view and which is set forth in the following paragraphs:
While the Bible does not enjoin upon all men everywhere loyalty and obedience to “the powers that be” (the civil governments) as “ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1), yet at the same time It holds them to supreme devotion and uncompromising fidelity to the Government of God above all else (Rom. 13:7; Matt. 22:21; Acts 4:19, 20), thus disallowing any, either king or subject, prophet or priest, ever to set aside the laws of God for the laws of man. And as matters now stand, our participating in military service would involve us as our Declaration reveals, in three major violations of the Divine laws:
1. Violation of the Fourth Command of the Decalogue (Ex. 20:8-11) — Which Prohibits Sabbathbreaking. — No individual person or nation can afford to ignore the feet that Sabbath breaking itself was one of the sins which brought ancient Israel into circumstances which enmeshed them in crucial war, and in final consequence cost them their kingdom (Ezek. 20).
2. Violation of the Sixth Command (Ex. 20:13) — Which Prohibits Killing or Helping to Kill a Human Being. — And since, as our Declaration of Principles points out, our church members are among the citizens not merely of one nation but of all
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nations the world around, then should we, as brethren in the faith, in any way engage ourselves in war with any nation, we would be joining in a conflict in which it would be brother destroying brother in the faith. And in consequence we would be branding ourselves as murderers of the citizens of God’s coming Kingdom, and therefore as enemies of the Kingdom Itself.
The pages of the Bible are replete with such Heaven-condemned perpetrations. Notable among them is the unholy alliance between the king of Israel and the king of Syria against the kingdom of Judah (the sister kingdom of Israel). The Scriptures concerning this alliance, not only prohibit a church confederation with any government that would involve brother killing brother in the faith, but also assure such a violator of a downfall from which there is no possible rising. This is quickly seen from the fact that the confederacy did not succeed in breaking Judah; but rather that God employed the predatory power, Assyria, swiftly to break the confederacy, to destroy both kings, and to scatter Israel and Syria throughout the cities of the Medes, even though Judah herself was not wholly devoted to God. (See Isa. 7:2, 7, 8; 8:4, 9-14).
3. Violation of the Divine Food Statutes (Lev. 11:7, 8). — According to the prophecies which speak in our day, God prohibits the informed in these prophecies from eating
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any “unclean” meats, such as pork. Here is Inspiration’s own prophetic declaration against such a violation:
“For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many. They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord.” Isa. 66:16, 17.
Our failing for any reason to heed this Divine injunction against the use of pork would be tantamount to our committing suicide, for we would actually be forcing the Lord to slay us for deliberately transgressing His prophetic Word for today, after our having received from It special enlightenment against such a sin. Our disobedience in the matter would therefore result in our plunging ourselves headlong, as it were, into the Lord’s slaughter house.
Clearly, then, we must not become compromised in any alignment which in its very nature must involve us in Sabbathbreaking in killing or helping to kill, or in eating pork or any other foods which God did not create for human con gumption. Any of these violations of the Divine laws are bound to make us a curse to ourselves and a peril to the nations wherein we find our selves for “to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17.
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And “the wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6:23
Furthermore, the pursuit of peace, not of war, is our greatest duty today, for we as a people are commissioned to promote the Kingdom of peace (Matt. 10:12, 13) by feeding the world with both spiritual and material bread — by keeping our minds on the Word of God, and our hands on the plow and on the pruning hook (Mic. 4:3). This we cannot do if we keep our minds on politics and our hands on sword and spear (Joel 3:10).
So in order for us to promote honor unto God and blessing unto the nations of which we are citizens, we must be as faithful in the Word of God as was Daniel and the three Hebrews in ancient Babylon, and as was Joseph in ancient Egypt, and thus national as well as international missionaries.
Knowing full well as we do that the security and sovereign existence of any government depend primarily, not on human and military power, but upon Divine sufferance and protection, we are consequently still the more compelled to render implicit obedience to Heaven’s principles governing our duty to our land. This high compulsion rests with even more compelling force upon us who have been placed here in Providentially free America, because of the happy fact that for these last
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momentous hours of time He has placed the headquarters of the church here where she is to enjoy unprecedented religious liberty, to function freely, and to discharge without obstruction her Divinely appointed duty world-wide.
To love our country thus with true Christian patriotism, we can do great good, whereas dare we engage in military service, with our consciences stricken as they would be were we thus to violate the laws of God, especially after having been enlightened through the freshly-revealed prophecies, we would become a curse and thus of less good to the military establishment, in defence of our country and of Christianity, than would a dumb watchdog to its master, or a hobbled horse to the cavalry, and no better than a traitorous citizen to his country.
On the contrary, though, our implicitly minding God’s commands, doing what He would have us do, so as to enable us to pray “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man,” which “availeth much” (James 5:16), must necessarily make us a mighty bulwark against any aggression — against any intrusion upon Democracy or upon Christianity. Genesis 18:23-33 reveals that had s God found only ten such men in wicked Sodom and Gomorrah, He would have spared the cities from the everlasting doom that was theirs. He will do no less today.
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Perhaps the strongest Scriptural exemplification of the futility of one’s attempting to dodge his God-given duty, is that of the classic case of the prophet Jonah’s, on the one hand, securing ship passage to Tarshish in his desperation to escape the stern task which God had assigned him — to warn Nineveh; and of God’s consequently, on the other hand, manifesting His might in frustrating the prophet’s misbegotten, errant effort which brought him face to face with catastrophe which, in turn, shocked him into realizing this great recreancy to his God-given duty, and enabled the ship’s crew to recognize God’s voice speaking Jonah’s condemnation through himself, demanding that they throw him overboard. Had not God undertaken to prevail with Jonah, with the crew, and with the sea, there would have come disaster to every soul not only aboard the vessel but also in the capital city, Ninevah. But as Jonah at last saw himself becoming a menace to humanity for shunning his God-given duty, and as the crew solemnly took heed to the Voice which spoke through him, God brought all of them out of trouble so that none suffered. There could therefore be only criminal folly in our pursuing any Jonah-like course of duty-dodging which could only bring upon us the sorest retributive difficulty and disaster.
History’s sad record witnesses again and again to the inexorable fact that the power and security or any nation depend
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first on the faith which governmental conformity to God’s Word warrants His people’s having in their government, and second on the kind of treatment and protection that government accords them. That it is on this Divine principle that any government or people must stand, or else fall, is solidly attested by the following cases:
1. Egypt —
“And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.” Gen. 41:38-41.
In happy consequence of Joseph’s fidelity to God and of Pharaoh’s just treatment of Joseph, God not only saved the world of that day from starvation but also exalted and enriched the throne of Pharaoh above all other thrones of its day.
2. Ammon and Moab —
Because the Ammonites and the Moabites refused to grant God’s ancient people
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assistance and safe conduct through the lands of Ammon and Moab, they in consequence brought upon themselves the sore judgment foretold in the following scripture:
“An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever: because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee. Nevertheless the Lord thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loved thee. Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.” Deut. 23:3-6.
For us, therefore, to fail to be true to Heaven’s principles and standards, set for us in particular, it would make us the most subtle of subversives, enemies not only to God’s government and to ourselves personally but also a curse to the governments under which we find ourselves. Indeed, were we thus to fail allegiance to our knowledge of right, we would thereby be corrupting both Christianity and Democracy, breeding hypocrisy, and in consequence imperiling the very life of both the Nation and the Church.
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Since our supreme desire and purpose is to do all in our power for the triumph and preservation of both Christianity and Democracy, our duty is clearly and rigidly defined for us — faithfully to remain steadfast to the only Power that can bring about victory and deliverance of both the Church and the Government. If we are obedient to His Will, and if the Government itself neither interferes with us in the exercise of our duty toward God nor otherwise goes contrary to God’s Word, our country need have fear of nothing. God will as mercifully save her as He saved Nineveh, and as gloriously deliver her as He delivered, without a casualty, the hosts of Israel from Pharaoh’s armies, at the Red Sea.
In view of all these considerations and historical examples, we believe that it can be understood that our unhesitating confidence in God and our prayers and efforts to serve Him, also the Government’s respect for our faith in God, must necessarily be of infinitely greater help to our country than whatever bit our serving the military in violation of God’s law, and in neglect of His work, would add in manpower to the country’s military might. (See Isaiah 8:9, 10).
When Israel walked humbly and righteously before Him, God walked arm in arm with them, and they were unconquerable. But when they departed from Him, He
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departed from them and they fell easy prey to the nations. Likewise, any nation that forgets Him and mistreats His people, is doomed. Witness the fall of those great world empires — Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia, and Rome. The majestic greatness and glory of their once proud dynasties is long vanished from earth, and all but forgotten, and their once mighty empires lie crumbled in the dust only because they refused to walk with God.
It must be remembered, too, that there are frequent instances, as the Holy Scripture also reveal, of His using ungodly nations to punish those who profess to believe in and to follow God, but whose hypocritical practices put the lie to their profession. (See 2 Chronicles 36:14-21). This He does to awaken them to the fact that they have become hypocrites. Notable among such nations were Assyria and Babylon — those by whom God punished rebellious Israel. (See 2 Kings 17; 2 Chronicles 36).
Obvious it is, then, that to punish any apostate and hypocritical Christian nation, Heaven may send upon it the red scourge of atheistic Communism (though the Scriptures make certain that it is doomed in the struggle for world supremacy for the reason that its ungodly end is to blot Christianity from the face of the earth). Should the Christian world thus find itself humbled at the hands of ungodly oppressors,
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then it should know for a certainty that its only salvation is in penitently returning to God. The absolute doom which atheistic Bolshevism brought upon the czars and upon their subjects only about three decades ago for corrupting the Christian religion certainly cannot be forgotten.
The Scriptural examples herein cited (besides others we shall not take time to cite) bear instruction and admonition for all nations and peoples that “promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.” Ps. 75:6, 7.
God further declares: “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil. I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in My sight, that it obey not My voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.” Jer. 18:7-10.
“…Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His: and He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings.” Dan. 2:20, 21.
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“…the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” Dan. 4:17.
Read also Isaiah 8:9-14.
Finally, since in the very reason of things nothing can be the result of happenstance, or sheer fortuitous occurrence, but rather everything must necessarily be the result of either Providential design or Providential consent, it follows that the existence both of our constitutional Bill of Rights (which made our country the greatest among nations), and of the derivative consideration and classification which now accrues from it to the faithful “conscientious objector,” is solely in the providence of God. We believe, therefore, that the Lord has inspired the lawful provisions of such a classification so that His people may choose it in accordance with His Will; that He expects each God-trusting and Truth-following disciple of Christ to take his stand in fidelity to the dictates of his God-given and God-enlightened conscience.
Obviously, then, our trying to train for war would only result in total loss not only to ourselves and to our governments, in particular, but also to Democracy and to Christianity, in general. Most manifestly, then the supreme considerations of loyalty and fidelity to God, good will and
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peace toward all men, and devotion to Democracy and Christianity, leave without excuse not only us if we fail to petition for the conscientious objector (I-O) classification but also the government if it fails to freely grant religious liberty and security to any bonafide follower of Christ and the Bible.
WORK PROGRAM FOR l-O’s
Details of the compulsory Work Program for Conscientious Objectors (I-O’s) may be obtained by writing to The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors. Room 300, 2006 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ask for the detailed sixteen-page mimeographed report by George Loft on the mechanics of the civilian work program as it is now operating. Single copies are free.
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Government’s Most Recent Classification Table
I-A Available for military duty.
I-A-O Conscientious Objector available for noncombatant military duty. I-O Conscientious Objector opposed to both combatant and noncombatant military duty and available for assignment to civilian work.
I-S High School student, I-S (H), under twenty years old; or college student, 1S (C), who has received an order to report for induction and is deferred to complete his school year.
II-A Deferred for essential employment except agriculture and study.
II-C Deferred for essential agricultural employment.
II-S Deferred for study.
I-D Member of organized reserve unit of the armed forces.
III-A Deferred for dependency IV-A Credit for World War II duty. IV-B Official deferred by law.
IV-C Certain aliens.
IV-D Minister or full-time student preparing for the ministry under the direction of a recognized church or religious organization.
IV-F Deferred for physical, mental, or moral unfitness.
V-A Over age.
I-W C.O.’s in assigned civilian service. Upon completion of service or earlier release, C.O.’s are classified l-W (R) until past the age of liability for the draft when they are reclassified V-A.
I-C Member of armed forces. Any registrant separated from the armed forces and transferred to the reserves is classified l-C (Res.) and those discharged classified l-C (Disc.) until past the age of liability for the draft when they are reclassified V-A.
Every registrant should be classified in the lowest classification for which he is eligible according to rank in the above table with 1A considered the highest and l-C considered the lowest.
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