I am aware that God grants exemptions for killing enemy soldiers in the case of war. Killing an enemy solider in war is not a sin as far as I understand. (correct me if I’m wrong). But what if I joined a mercenary corps? I have wanted to be a solider since I was young, but unfortunately a medical issue in my distant past may prevent me from serving in the actual armed forces. So I was wondering, would it be immoral to join a private army?
Thank you for these thoughtful questions which are weighing within your heart. The scriptures are clear that murder (thou shalt not kill) is sin. The scriptures appear to be clear also in the notion of self-defense, or self-preservation, is not sin. In the Book of Mormon, a highlight of the Book of Alma, we are able to read about Captain Moroni. This captain’s nature has been described as: 1) A mighty man 2) A man of perfect understanding 3) A man who loved freedom and liberty 4) A man who labored on behalf of his people 4) A man who did not delight in the shedding of blood 5) A man who loved the true God (Alma 48).
In his effort to protect his people from the Lamanites, we are informed of an encounter with a Lamanite captain, Zerahemnah, and listen carefully to his Moroni’s words to Zerahemnah:
1) We do not desire to be men of blood. Ye know ye are in our hands, yet we do not desire to slay you
2) God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion.
3) I command you…that ye deliver up your weapons of war.
4) If ye do not this, ye are in our hands, and I will command my men that they shall fall upon you, and inflict the wounds of death in your bodies.
In correlation with this, the main consideration is what is in your heart? We do not have any right, before our Lord, to take a life without any just cause, and being part of an organization doesn’t make the cause just. Even Captain Moroni, in war, did not have to halt his men in the beginning to speak with Zerahemnah. He could have continued to slay the Lamanites without mercy. He provided them an opportunity to go home, end the war, end this conflict (save lives), or to meet death. Duly noted, the reason, the motivation of the statement “inflict the wounds of death.” Why? Captain Moroni desired the protection of his people, and knowing if the Lamanites did not depart with an oath of peace these men would join the war and fight again causing more death among the Nephites.
A mercenary corp is a hired hand, and depending on the motives of this hired hand could lead a man, a good man, to offend God and sin in the death of his neighbors. The counsel in the Book of Mormon that enters my mind in this scenario would be from the words of Jacob, “O be wise, what can I say more”? What are the motives behind the mercenary corp that you might be interested in? The character of the men in the mercenary group? Do mercenaries have a right to protect their life against an aggressive encounter? Yes. I believe I have provided enough information for you to pray and ponder about, and then to use the intelligence God has given you to make a “wise” decision.