It’s been said that “War Is Hell!” But an even greater Hell is OPPOSING War, and yet still volunteering to go into a battle that you might not agree with. This is the premise of “Hacksaw Ridge” the recent movie directed by Mel Gibson. The movie tells the story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector, who nevertheless felt compelled to volunteer for combat service. What ensued, at least in the movie, was Doss being harassed and ridiculed for his stance on designing to save life rather than destroy it. As he uttered the phrase, “with all this life being busted apart, it seems like a good thing for me to try to put some life back together again.” This phrase garnered an applause from the folks in the crowd; but I fear it would be lost on many Americans. Doss didn’t seek to kill; he sought instead to heal. As a conscientious objector he refused to bear arms. And for this he faced a court martial (at least in the movie); but in real life he proved his bravery beyond question. In the battle for Okinawa; Doss, without any weapon, brought 75 different soldiers to safety; and in so doing earned the Congressional Metal of Honor. He was the first conscientious objector to earn such a privilege. And proved beyond doubt that one can long for peace and still serve in war in such a way that his comrades commend him and applaud his service.
While many disagreed with Doss's stance they nevertheless respected his views, and by the end of the movie, they refused to enter combat until he had prayed for them. As a Christian; and as a minister, I rejoiced in this scene. It is a scene that seeks to let patriotism trump godliness and long to kill the enemy. But Doss sought to persevere life rather than destroy it. He sought to help rather than to destroy. And in this he should be commended.
The movie ends with real life interviews with soldiers who served with Doss. To a man, they respected him for his pacifist position; and his willingness to suffer for the sake of that position. Doss was honored for serving and saving his fellow man. But his views on the way did not change. He refused to take life, opting instead to preserve life. He won great accolades, but even more, he won the respect of the hardened soldiers who served with him. Mr. Doss is worthy of our respect. He sought God’s approval above man’s. And in so doing he earns our eternal respect. Let us seek God’s will and serve the kingdom of man when we feel God has allowed us to do so. Until then, we live for God and submit to His sovereign control over all things big and small. Desmond Doss did this; and for this he earns our respect.