Salvation Army ethics

The Salvation Army, Ethics overview…
Salvation Army ethics
Salvationists are generally conservative in their ethical thinking. Since the Army
devotes much of its energy to working in difficult social and ethical areas it is able
to claim that its ethical doctrines are tested in practice every minute of every day.
All Salvationist ethics rely on Jesus for their authority. Their essence is captured
in phrases like 'following Jesus' and 'the imitation of Christ'.
Every Salvationist makes the following ethical promises:
I will uphold Christian integrity in every area of my life,
allowing nothing in thought, word or deed that is unworthy,
unclean, untrue, profane, dishonest or immoral.
I will maintain Christian ideals in all my relationships with
others; my family and neighbours, my colleagues and fellow
, those to whom and for whom I am responsible, and the
wider community.
I will uphold the sanctity of marriage and of family life. I will
be a faithful steward of my time and gifts, my money and
possessions, my body, my mind and my spirit, knowing that I
am accountable to God.
I will abstain from alcoholic drink, tobacco, the non-medical
use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult and
all else that could enslave the body or spirit."
Salvation Army promises
... to be pure in soul signifies deliverance from all and
everything which the Lord shows you to be opposed to His
Holy Will.
William Booth, Purity of Heart
The Salvation Army expects its members to live according to the "values of the
Kingdom of God and not the values of the world."
Salvationists try to avoid "all impurity, including unclean conversation and the
reading of any obscene book or paper" as well as pornographic pictures, films and
exhibitions of any kind, or similar television and radio programmes.
The Salvation Army, Ethics overview…
Bodily ethics
The Salvation Army has historically required total abstinence from alcoholic drink
from all its soldiers and officers.
Social drinking to please a host or hostess or a business
associate should be ruled out. Alcoholic beverages in any
form should not be tolerated within Salvation Army circles.
However, Salvationists are not forbidden to mix socially with drinkers, and War
Cry is regularly sold in pubs.
Members of the Army also abstain from "tobacco, the non-medical use of
addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult, and all else that could
enslave the body or spirit."
Such things are seen as endangering and degrading the physical, moral, and
spiritual welfare of all those who become involved with them.
The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of human life and so regards
euthanasia as morally wrong.
Assisted suicide is also regarded as morally wrong.
However the Army defines euthanasia strictly, as a deliberate act causing the
intentional death of a person in order to relieve that person's suffering.
The Army does not regard either of the following as euthanasia or as morally
using drugs to adequately control the pain of a dying person, even if the
secondary effect may result in shortened life
withholding or withdrawing medical treatment that only prolongs the dying
The Army accepts that living wills or advance health care directives can be useful.
Sexual ethics and marriage
The Salvation Army recognizes that the battle between flesh
and spirit is never easy, but believes that the sex drive is
designed by God to lead to the highest expression of human
love only within the holy estate of matrimony, and that when
it is expressed outside of that relationship, it will inevitably
lead to misery of self and others.
Salvation Army
The Salvation Army holds to the Christian ideals of chastity before marriage and
fidelity within the marriage relationship.
The Salvation Army, Ethics overview…
It believes that believes that sex and its proper use is a gift, created, ordained
and blessed by God and intended to find expression only within the context of a
loving marriage relationship.
The Army regards marriage as the voluntary and loving union for life of one man
and one woman to the exclusion of all others.
Salvationist cannot remain soldiers if they sexually cohabit with a person of the
opposite sex to whom they are not married. They must either marry or separate.
Salvationists cannot remain soldiers if they are involved in marital infidelity,
deliberate promiscuity, a criminal sexual offence or any misconduct of a sexually
deviant kind.
The Salvation Army believes that homosexual Christians must live celibate lives,
since the Bible forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex.
The Army does not accept same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to,
heterosexual marriage.
The Salvation Army opposes any discrimination against homosexuals, and accepts
as members homosexuals who will abide by the principle that sexual intimacy is
only acceptable within marriage.
Homosexual practices unrenounced render a person unacceptable as a Salvation
Army soldier, in the same way as heterosexual acts of immorality.
The Army recognises that some marriages fail and is willing to help couples facing
such a situation. Where remarriage could lead to the healing of emotional
wounds, the Army permits its officers to perform a marriage ceremony for a
divorced person.
The Salvation Army believes that contraception is morally acceptable.
It encourages the use of birth control methods that are contraceptive (i.e. that
prevent conception) versus the use of methods that are abortifacient (i.e. that
prevent implantation after fertilisation).
The Salvation Army, Ethics overview…
The Salvation Army believes that abortion is morally wrong, and recommends
that unwanted pregnancies should be continued to birth.
It is opposed to abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex
selection or for any reason of mere convenience to avoid the responsibility for
It deplores society's ready acceptance of abortion, which it believes reflects
insufficient concern for vulnerable persons, including the unborn.
However it accepts that that there may be situations where those involved want
to consider abortion; such situations need much prayer and careful thought.
In cases of proven rape or legally defined incest an abortion may be justified
because of the extent to which rape and incest violate the whole person.
Termination of a pregnancy may also be justified where reliable diagnostic
procedures determine that a foetal abnormality is present which is incompatible
with life other than brief post-natal survival or where there is total absence of
cognitive function.
When an abortion takes place, The Salvation Army continues to show love and
compassion and offers its services and fellowship to those involved.
Reproductive ethics
Artificial insemination and in vitro fertilisation are acceptable when the sperm and
ova of a husband and wife are used. The Salvation Army strongly advises against
the use of donors because of theological, legal, moral, social, psychological, and
ethical complications and implications.
The Salvation Army advises against surrogate motherhood.
Stem cell research
The Salvation Army has chosen to be neutral in the debate over stem-cell
Debt is seen as a great evil. Salvationists should avoid getting into debt and only
accept credit transactions (including mortgages) after making sure that they will
be able to repay on time. They are expected to resist any temptation to live
above their means.
The Salvation Army, Ethics overview…
The Salvation Army recognises that all human beings are made in God's image
and are equal in intrinsic value.
From the earliest days the Army has given women and men equality of
opportunity; every rank and service is open to both sexes.
All Salvation Army worship services are open to everyone and all Salvation Army
social welfare services are provided on a non-discriminatory basis.
Salvationists are explicitly instructed to avoid class discrimination:
The Salvation Army must not become so much of a middleclass movement that it forgets 'the rock whence it is hewn'. It
is called to proclaim salvation to all classes, but its special
glory should be its concern for and its ability to appeal to the
lowest and most forgotten, and to be their champion in every
Salvation Army