Why the Air Force Academy Should Drop “So Help Me God”

Air Force Academy

The Air Force academy is considering the removal of the phrase “so help me God” from their honor oath after a complaint was filed against them. The oath currently reads as follows:

We will not lie, steal or cheat nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and live honorably, so help me God.

While I disagree with the reason for the complaint, I agree that this phrase should be removed.

First, Jesus and James were both pretty clear on the fact that Christians have no business swearing oaths at all. We should rather let our “yes” mean yes and our “no” mean no (Matthew 5:33–37; James 5:12).

But honestly, that’s not the biggest issue here. I suppose you could even argue that this is not so much swearing an oath by God as it is asking for God’s help.

The big problem here is with what they are asking God to help them do: “to do my duty and live honorably.”

Doing your duty in the military means killing people—namely your enemies. (Yes, I know there are non-combatant roles, and those are another issue, but the overall purpose of the military is to secure peace by killing enemies.)

But living honorably should mean honoring God and keeping his commands. Am I the only one seeing a contradiction here?

Jesus told us to love our enemies. It is not possible to love your enemies while killing them. (Click to tweet)

I’m not taking issue with a secular nation having an army and doing what secular nations do, but I have a serious problem with claiming God in that equation.

“God help us kill our enemies” is the cry of crusaders and inquisitionists, not true Christ followers. (Click to tweet)

There is nothing Christian about this country or its military. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world do not mix. So yes, I’m all for removing “so help me God” from the Air Force Academy’s honor oath.

If this way of thinking is new to you, the book Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence by Preston Sprinkle was very helpful to me, and I commend it to you.