A visitor writes,
"Would it be acceptable to join the army/ air force in a non combat role as, for example, an engineer or administrator?"
Thank you for your question.
The problem is the Oath or Affirmation of allegiance to the State.
Even if one joined the armed forces in a non combative role, an Oath or Affirmation of allegiance to the Queen (as Head of State and representative of the Country) is required.
The Sovereign is Head of the Armed Forces and only he or she can declare war and peace.
This dates from the times when the monarch was responsible for raising, maintaining and equipping the Army and Navy, and often leading them into battle.
But nowadays these powers cannot be exercised on the monarch's own initiative, but only on the advice of responsible Ministers. The Bill of Rights (1689) declared that "the raising or keeping of a standing army within the Kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with the consent of Parliament, is against the law".
The existences of the Army (raised as a series of different regiments by colonels) and the Royal Air Force are legally based on the Army and Air Force Acts of 1955 and previous Parliamentary Acts. Their continued existence depends on annual Continuation Orders passed by Parliament.
On enlistment, the Acts require members of the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines (who operate ashore under the Army Act) to take an oath of allegiance to the monarch as Head of the Armed Forces.
Those for whom it is against their religion to take oaths, and those who are of no religion, affirm instead of swearing an oath.
The Royal Navy was formed hundreds of years ago, and its existence stems from the Sovereign's prerogative. Members of the Navy have never therefore been required to take the oath.
The oath of allegiance is sworn to the monarch, rather than to Parliament, which might be confused with the political party in power at the time.
This reaffirmation of loyalty to the Sovereign, as Head of State, also ensures that the loyalty of servicemen and women as serving members of the Armed Services, regardless of their personal political beliefs, is not given to any one political party, but to the country in the form of the Head of State.
An affirmation of allegiance to the State puts us into a position of divided loyalty.
At some point our allegiance to Christ will override our allegiance to the State and we will not be able to honour our affirmation.
The affirmation makes no provision for a conflict of interests.
Like Abraham we are called to live as in a strange (foreign) country.
Heb 11: 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers (aliens) and pilgrims (foreigners) on the earth.
We have been called out of the United Kingdom to become citizens of the Kingdom to come.
Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Thus we cannot affirm allegiance to the Country in which we live.
I hope this helps