“Ask a Priest: It Is OK to Want to Kill the Bad Guys?”

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Q: I want to be a soldier when I grow up. I want to defend my country, but I want to kill the bad guys — like, I’m angry and I want to kill them. But will I still go to heaven even though I want to kill the bad guys? -R.P.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Jesus tells us, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

It is good to remember that everyone is our brother and sister in that we all have the same Father in heaven. We shouldn’t want to go out and kill anyone.

It is one thing to want to protect one’s country – that is praiseworthy. The Catechism in No. 2310 says, “Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense. Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.”

Ideally, however, no one should be motivated by a desire to kill people as a goal in itself. That kind of motivation can endanger a person’s soul. All we should hate is evil and sin — and desiring to overcome evil and sin is a good thing. But when it comes to people — sinners — we must love them and wish for their conversion and redemption. God will help us do that, if we give him the chance.

By the way, it isn’t our place to decide who is a “bad guy.” God alone knows the heart of each person.

It might be good to pray about all this and ask your friend Jesus what he wants you to do. Also, pray to one of the patron saints of soldiers (you might find one here) and ask for guidance.

If you decide to become a soldier, be motivated by love of country, not by anger.

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