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Matt Parra on times when the majority is wrong

At basic training, all of Desmond Doss’ fellow soldiers felt like he was a peculiar pest, to the point that they did not want him by their side. It was because he believed in something different, and was willing to stand up for those beliefs.

Desmond would eventually go on to prove them all wrong, in spectacular fashion at the Battle of Okinawa. It was his odd and peculiar beliefs and convictions that motivated Doss to put himself in danger to protect the men in his unit.

It goes to show that the majority is not always right. What seems peculiar, strange or odd might actually be something incredible – something that could change your life for the better.

Blake Penland on Desmond Doss and being different

Blake Penland challenges us to stand up for what we believe in, no matter what anyone else thinks.

The commandments that inspired a war hero

Why were the Ten Commandments so important to Desmond Doss – particularly during times of trouble on the battlefield at Okinawa?

By Jarrod Stackelroth.


An estimated 20 million troops were killed in World War II. It was a dangerous and deadly conflict, even for civilians. In fact, there are stories of soldiers being ordered to target medics, to dishearten and demoralise their enemies.

So you could forgive a non-combatant for carrying a weapon . . . just for self-defence, right? And yet Private Desmond Doss refused. He refused to even touch a gun. Why? What made his conviction so strong that he risked ridicule, rebuke and even discharge to keep it?

Desmond Doss was committed to keeping the Ten Commandments (found in the Old Testament in the Bible) — particularly the sixth one. As a boy, an artist’s impression of the Ten Commandments sat in the family’s living room and had a formative impact on Doss’ life — especially number six: you shall not kill.  In the documentary The Conscientious Objector, Doss’ sister, Audrey Miller spoke about how Doss focussed on “Thou shalt not kill,” which was illustrated with an image of Cain and Abel. “He always pointed to it,” she said. “He was just a clever boy.”

Doss reflected on the image and what it meant to him. “To me, it said, ‘Desmond, if you love me [God], you won’t kill.’ As a result, I didn’t want to ever take life.”

Knowing the human propensity for violence and the temptation of using a weapon if he had one in a sticky situation, Doss preferred to avoid any contact with guns.

This is the other Commandment Doss made a point of sticking to: “Remember the Sabbath Day and Keep it holy” — hard to do in the army.

Doss fought for his right to keep Sabbath, even under threat of court martial. Eventually, on Saturdays he was allowed to practice his religion without duties, but this led others in his unit to think he was getting special privileges. He would get a pass for the Sabbath so he could go attend a local Seventh-day Adventist church. But he would get all the tough details on Sunday.

Yet Doss believed it so strongly, that he persevered through the war and neither threats nor pleadings could wear him down.

But why were the Ten Commandments so important to Doss? And what are they?

Unlike other laws and traditions that are recorded in the Bible, the author of Exodus records that God Himself wrote the Commandments on stone and gave them to Moses. Yet these laws were important even before Moses received them in the desert. The fourth Commandment mentions the Sabbath, a day of rest and remembrance and a time Seventh-day Adventists use to spend with family members and with God is mentioned in the fourth Commandment.

Do not kill we’ve mentioned already. Other Commandments include: do not steal, do not commit adultery, don’t worship idols, honour your parents. These are all good things; things that are still important today.

Some people argue that because Jesus came and died for us, we no longer need the Commandments. But Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” He also said, that he didn’t come to do away with the law but to fulfil it.

People often paint the Ten Commandments as a list of things that an angry God is telling you not to do. But if we follow the Commandments, like Doss did, we are honouring God and other people. They protect us from doing things that will hurt others or ourselves. If we decided to intentionally not follow the Ten Commandments, like choosing to do the opposite at traffic signals, disaster would ensue; we’d be lying, stealing, cheating, killing machines.

King Solomon said “Fear [honour, reverence, respect] God and keep his Commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.”

It is a duty that Doss understood. And a duty that he firmly stuck to.

Did Desmond compromise his Sabbath beliefs?

While he was defined by the sixth, Doss’ commitment to the other nine Commandments was no less — including the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

By Nathan Brown.


This stand was based on his conviction that the sixth of the Ten Commandments — “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13) — was a serious rule for living well and living faithfully. After all, in the Bible’s story, it was a command given by God Himself.

But his was not a selective reading of the Ten Commandments. While he was defined by the sixth, Doss’s commitment to the other nine was no less — including the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God” (Exodus 20:8–10). This commandment details the seventh day of each week as a day of worship and rest for all people.

As described in the Bible, Sabbath dates back to a seventh day described as a “holy” day of rest in the creation story (see Genesis 2:2, 3). Throughout the Bible and subsequent history and still today, it has been celebrated and respected by various faith communities.

For Doss, this was simply a matter of loyalty to God. But, in his early days of military service, Doss’s practice of Sabbath caused as many difficulties as his non-combatancy. He was considered a shirker by his fellow soldiers and his superiors, who made it difficult for him to get official leave passes or lighter duties. But, as Jesus said, those who love God will keep His commandments (see John 14:15) — and that was Doss’s first priority.

But this was not his only priority. On Saturday, May 5, 1945 — Sabbath — Doss answered the call of duty to his fellow men. In so doing, Desmond was walking in the footsteps of Jesus who did not hold back from healing people on the Sabbath, arguing that “the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12, NLT). Through following this command, this was the day Doss became a hero.

It was this same faithfulness that saw Desmond refuse to take life. He made obedience to God his top priority, just one of many decisions that saw him risk his own life to help and rescue as many of his men as he could.