Question: "Should a Christian join a militia?"
Answer: A militia is generally defined as a military force opposed to the government or regular army and developed from within a society. Should a Christian participate in such a movement? During the public ministry of Jesus, many Jews opposed the Roman government that ruled over Israel. There was even a militia of sorts, called the Zealots, who actively resisted Roman rule. While Jesus cared deeply for the nation of Israel, He did not encourage His followers to form a militia or join the Zealots. Instead, He focused on the kingdom of God that was not of this world (see John 18:36).
In Romans 13:1–2, the apostle Paul addresses the relationship between Christians and government: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Peter shares similar words in 1 Peter 2:13–17.
The general rule for Christians, then, is submission to the government. The only exception is when Christians are told to disobey a direct command of God. When the apostles were commanded to no longer teach in Jesus’ name, they answered, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20).
A look at the Old Testament also offers important examples. In the book of Daniel, Daniel refused to stop praying to God, even when his prayer was against the Persian law (Daniel 6). Daniel’s three friends refused to bow down to an idol, even though refusing to do so was punishable by death (Daniel 3). In both cases, their reason for disobeying the ruling authorities was based on a clear command in God’s Word. Even in those situations, Daniel and his friends peacefully objected; they did not form a militia.
The Bible teaches believers to pray for their governing leaders (2 Timothy 2:1–4). When we disagree with the actions of our government, prayer and godly living are a far more powerful force than joining a militia.
Though there continue to be many injustices in the world, Scripture promotes two important responses. First, our mission is the Great Commission. We are called to make disciples of all the nations rather than to join a militia within our nation. Second, Jesus will one day return and set all things right (Revelation 21–22). We may not be able to correct the evils of our society in our own strength, but we can follow the One who can.