If an honest man goes to war, kills many men and then is killed himself, do you think he should go to heaven or helli dont know this one.....but i do what to hear what you think :)

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jmj616's profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

If you're a fundamentalist with regard to scripture, then the exact wording may concern you.  But even at that, remember that translations from ancient languages is never exact.

While it's true that the concept of "just war" has long been a part of many religions, it has always been in reference to war undertaken for reasons of justice (realizing that justice, in this case, is also subject to multiple definitions).

Your question is whether a soldier who has killed deserves Heaven or Hell - as a Catholic theologian, I would respond that the answer to that question would vary from soldier to soldier because the state of the soldier's conscience has everything to do with his/her culpability (blame) in the matter.  The Catholic Church has always taught that in order for a sin to be "mortal" (i.e. one that sends you to Hell) it must meet 3 criteria: 1) it must be mortally serious (surely killing fits the bill), 2) the person must recognize its seriousness (something we cannot know about the soldier in any definite way) and 3) the person must commit the sin with "full consent of the will."

Does a soldier get to exercise "full consent of the will?"  Again, that would be a matter known only to the soldier (and God, presumably) in the depths of his/her conscience.

I'm not sure why only a "fundamentalist" would be concerned with "exact wording."  Anyone who is serious about any text -- religious or secular -- would be serious about exact wording.  Any literary critic, lawyer, doctor, engineer, or chemist who is not concerned with the exact wording of the texts of his or her profession is sorely lacking.

Poster #11, by the way, is correct.  The Hebrew word used in the 6th commandment is "tirtzach," which means to murder, as opposed to "taharog," which means to kill. 

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emk | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

If you're a fundamentalist with regard to scripture, then the exact wording may concern you.  But even at that, remember that translations from ancient languages is never exact.

While it's true that the concept of "just war" has long been a part of many religions, it has always been in reference to war undertaken for reasons of justice (realizing that justice, in this case, is also subject to multiple definitions).

Your question is whether a soldier who has killed deserves Heaven or Hell - as a Catholic theologian, I would respond that the answer to that question would vary from soldier to soldier because the state of the soldier's conscience has everything to do with his/her culpability (blame) in the matter.  The Catholic Church has always taught that in order for a sin to be "mortal" (i.e. one that sends you to Hell) it must meet 3 criteria: 1) it must be mortally serious (surely killing fits the bill), 2) the person must recognize its seriousness (something we cannot know about the soldier in any definite way) and 3) the person must commit the sin with "full consent of the will."

Does a soldier get to exercise "full consent of the will?"  Again, that would be a matter known only to the soldier (and God, presumably) in the depths of his/her conscience.

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

I believe the Commandment is "Thou shalt not murder."  "Thou shalt not kill" appears to be a mistranslation from a few centuries back. So killing per se appears to be sanctioned to some degree by the Divine. Certainly any nation throughout history during wartime sanctions the killing of enemies; the guilt of taking a human life is mitigated by the larger culture, as enemies are vilified and derogatorily labeled.  Perhaps the solider has already endured hell; perhaps heaven is going home to live out his (or now her) remaining natural days in peace. Maybe it doesn't matter where we would assign any particular solider; perhaps that's only up to God.

 

jmj616's profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

I think that a classic Jewish answer would be more or less as follows:

a) The fact that the man was honest is admirable, but not enough by itself to earn him a spot in heaven.  Judaism requires that its adherents fulfill a total of 613 commandments.  365 of them are "negative," such as not eating pork, not violating the Sabbath, not committing adultery, etc., etc; 248 of them are "positive," such as honoring parents, praying, circumcision, charity, etc., etc.

In contrast to many other religions, Judaism has always had a "program" even for those who were not born into it and never converted to it.  Non-Jews are required to observe 7 basic commandments, including not to murder, not to engage in incest or adultery, not to steal, etc. (see http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/The_Seven_Noahide_Laws.html).

So, our "honest" man would be judged on his performance of the commandments that apply to him, rather than just on his honesty alone.

b) Although Judaism does not encourage war, it recognizes that it is sometimes necessary.  A soldier who kills as part of his wartime duty is not liable for murder.  So, our honest soldier could still make it to heaven, if his other deeds justify it.

c) The fact that our honest soldier was killed himself is not necessarily relevant.  There are certain cases in which a victim of war would be considered a martyr and would be guaranteed a place in the World to Come (i.e., heaven), but in other cases, a fallen soldier is simply an unfortunate victim.

In summary, our honest soldier would be judged on the sum total of his "goodness" during his lifetime.  His wartime activity would only be one of many factors for God to consider in his final judgement. 

(It should be noted that Judaism's concept of heaven and hell is quite different than the Christian concept that many people carry about with them--even if they are not particularly Christian!  A good introduction to the Jewish concepts can be found at: http://judaism.about.com/library/3_askrabbi_o/bl_simmons_afterlife.htm).

 

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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If someone believes in heaven and hell, then that person has faith in or practices a specific religion.  Being that there are very few religions that do not have some version of hell and even fewer that do not have a version of heaven, then the "honest" man would go to heaven--again, according to almost all world religions because those religions address the idea of killing during times of war, and some of them even call upon their adherents to go to war for specific reasons.  Thus, if a person of faith goes to war in accordance with the guidelines of his/her specific religion, it would be illogical to presume that that person would be eternally punished for his or her actions.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Tough question. The most important of the 10 Commandments states "Thou shalt not kill." Christians who believe in a literal translation of The Bible might not differentiate between murder or killing in wartime. I personally believe that killing in battle would not exempt a good man from heaven, but this question is one that could be debated indefinitely.

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hannahshychuk | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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In most Christian circles, war is seen as a form of killing which is vastly different than murder. To this extent then, the morality of the act, which we might assume determines ulitmately whether one's destination is heaven or hell, is based on the "just cause" of the war in question.

The more pacifistic Christian response would be that any form of violent resistance is ultimately morally wrong, and thus, morally reprehensible. From this viewpoint, the "just-ness" of the cause wouldn't really matter.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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My opinion is that killing people in war is very different than murdering them.  So, if the soldier were killing other soldiers and if he were doing it only in accepted ways (not torturing them or killing them after they surrendered or things like that) then I think that his actions are not morally wrong.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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The answer to this question is really a matter of an individual’s personal, spiritual beliefs. Many Christians feel as if salvation (or the lack thereof) is the key to an eternity in heaven or hell. The belief being that if Christ has been accepted as a personal savior, then eternity upon death of the physical self will be spent in heaven. Individuals will still have to give an accounting for their sins, but they will be in heaven. By the same token, the belief of some is that to never accept Christ as savior results in an eternity in hell. Other spiritual faiths have other beliefs.

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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i think that the man should go to heaven because he is out there fighting for his country - Mayie16

And the guys that he killed were fighting for their country too. What is so 'holy' or even moral about killing and dying for your country? Did Jesus say you should die for your country if you want to go to heaven?

frizzyperm's profile pic

frizzyperm | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

If we read the words of Christ, then I don't think you can justify going to war. I think it's fairly clear that Jesus was a pacifist. Killing another human is wrong. Jesus said we should love our enemies.

Of course the Old Testament is full of 'smiting the unGodly' and killing people who opposed the Isrealites. The OT often preaches the polar opposite of what Jesus said. 

mayie16's profile pic

mayie16 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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i think that the man should go to heaven because he is out there fighting for his country but at the end of the day it dont matter what i think its all up to the man above IF thats what he believe

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

It basically comes down to the person believing that there really is a heaven and that there really is a hell. I think for someone to defend them-self, their country, and their possessions from others is a noble pursuit.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Put simply the question raised here is if all forms of killing is a sin or immoral. If we accept this proposition then all non-vegetarians, that is all people who eat flesh of animals, would fall under the category of sinners. As a matter of fact even the person who swats a fly would be considered then a killer. And if we look beyond humans, all carnivorous and omnivorous animals will also qualify as sinners. So killing by itself is neither good or bad. It is the purpose of killing that makes it good or bad.

A person who fights a war for a honest purpose or even in hones performance of his duty, not really caring to judge the justification of the war is not a sinner or an evil person. So if heaven or hell are places where people go after death depending how good or bad they have been during their life, then just fighting and dying in a war should not lead to a person being sent to hell. As a matter of fact fighting the war sincerely in to pursue a just cause may qualify a person for a place in heaven.

It will be interesting to point out here that in Geeta, one of the the most sacred text of Hindus, Lord Krishna advices Arjuna to fight the war of Mahabharata, and among other things, says that dying in a just war like this will enable him to enjoy heaven. Since, I mentioned Geeta here, I think I should also clarify that according to Geeta, a short visit to heaven is just a consolation price, and not the central purpose of life.

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