PTSD: The Heart of a Warrior

By Chaplain Scott Jimenez

There will be some Veterans that feel that taking a life means eternal separation from God.  The argument goes, “I was taught that killing was wrong, but then I was taught to kill, so I killed to protect my buddies, therefore I am going to hell.”                                 

How one resolves this conflict depends on how one views the Ten Commandments.  The one commandment from God that speaks to taking life, as expressed in the Ten Commandments and found in Deuteronomy 5:17, says, “You shall not murder.”  Interestingly, this wording in the New American Standard Bible is the same in most translations, including the New Revised Standard Version and the Holman Christian Standard Bible.  The exception is the King James Version in that it says, “Thou shalt not kill.”  If the majority translations are correct, then even the Bible, and therefore, God, differentiates between killing and murder.  U.S. laws are based on the Ten Commandments, so we as a society also make a distinction between killing and murder.

To go further, in Hebrew, there is a difference between unlawful taking of life, חָצְרִּת (ratzah), as found in Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17, and of lawful taking of life, גִּצָה (harag), as found in Exodus 32: 27-28.  To conjoin the two Exodus passages, Moses is on the mountain receiving both the spoken word and the written word (the Ten Commandments) of God.  While basking in God’s Shekinah glory, God suddenly tells him in Exodus 32: 7 to “Go down at once!”  When Moses gets to the encampment, he sees their sin, calls the people, and says, as recorded in Exodus 32:27-28, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’”  Notice, Moses said, “God says.”  Since Moses was in the very presence of God and heard the voice of God speak, he knew what He said. Is Moses guilty of breaking the commandment, or is there a distinction between killing and murder?

If there is a distinction between killing and murder, then feelings of guilt may at times actually be false guilt.  One way to see the difference is to remember and acknowledge that upon accepting God’s forgiveness, God forgives, but also forgets, as found in Hebrews 10:17, “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”  If one accepts God’s forgiveness on Monday, if then on Tuesday one feels guilt for the same act, then it is certainly not from God but is instead false guilt sent from Satan.

Embracing that forgiveness is attainable, and recognizing both the distinction between murder and killing, and between true guilt and false guilt, can help remove the guilt and shame of taking a life in combat.  For many, this can mean the difference between shame and pride in serving as warrior.  Can we still be a warrior, and what warrior can we be?  We each can be a warrior for Christ, regardless of what we have gone through.  We Veterans are especially called to be Prayer Warriors, sometimes to “stand in the gap,” as found in Ezekiel 22:30, because it speaks to the heart of us as warriors.

What can the Church do? We, as a Church, are called to mentor warriors, teaching them to put on the spiritual armor of God (Ephesians 6).  We, as a Church, are called to model for them how to pray.  We, as a Church, are called to recognize in men and women the spiritual image, the Imago Dei, of God.  In short, we, as a Church, are called to nurture the men and women of God to be the spiritual leaders God wants them to be.  This is where true healing can be found: where one is made anew, from the inside out, creating right thought, causing right action.  These warriors know that the mission is important, that the purpose of worshiping God is not to satisfy self (I got fed) but to honor God (I worshiped God).  This is the Warrior Society: training men and women of God to be the spiritual leaders, the warriors of God that God wants and equips them to be. 

The Alumni Office would like to thank Chaplain Jimenez for taking the time to share these articles with our Alumni and Friends as this is the last installment of this series. It has been very insightful and we pray for continued blessing in his ministry and the ministries of all of our Alumni serving in so many different capacities! 


2 responses to “PTSD: The Heart of a Warrior”

  1. Loren E Anderson says:

    I am sure that Chaplain Jimenez was asked this question many times….I asked it in WWII when I was enlisted. I am from the 1952 class at ATS and was in he Battle of the Bulge…but it was the exposure of the war that released me to see a world that needed Christ. I served in Guatemala for 36 years with the Quiche Indians….and did what I was trained to do at ATS….I did what I wanted to do.

  2. scott says:

    Thank you, Loren, for your service, both to our country and to our Lord. All healing is relational. And, yes, I was asked this before combat, “Can I take a life and not sin?”, and after combat, “Did I sin in taking a life?”

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