Two weeks ago, I watched the highly anticipated film American Sniper and exited the theater feeling hopeless, weighed down, and angry.

These feelings overpowered any sense of inspiration I expected to have coming out of the movie. I sat for two gruesome hours watching the most lethal sniper in America, Chris Kyle, risk everything to protect his fellow U.S troops, only for him to be gunned down by a U.S veteran he was trying to help. I didn’t try to stop the tears as they continually ran down my cheeks the entire movie.

[one_third]But society does what it does best; it takes sides.[/one_third]

I only address these feelings now as I write this. I realize the life of Chris Kyle is a life worth pursuing. When I say this I don’t mean you should go and enlist in the military. Instead, you should live for a purpose. When I look at Kyle’s life, I see unrelenting dedication and pure unadulterated motive. Yet, people choose to condemn Kyle and other snipers in the U.S military. Director Michael Moore referred to snipers as “cowards” in a tweet shortly after the movie’s release. But society does what it does best; it takes sides. As a response, we must analyze the actions and motives of Kyle for ourselves. Only then can we answer the question of whether he was a good or a bad person.

“It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save: Marines, soldiers, buddies,” wrote Kyle in his book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S Military History. Kyle had at least 160 confirmed kills in his military career. Personally, I look not at the deaths but at the lives he saved. By taking out one threat, Kyle saved entire squadrons. He didn’t kill for the thrill but to protect the soldiers relying on him.

Was it necessary though to kill? Does killing automatically make someone a bad person? Isn’t killing a sin? All these questions come to mind and yes, I would love to believe that what Kyle did would be considered not only necessary but good. More than anything, I seek to know what is considered good in God’s eyes. In the Old Testament, many wars took place involving godly men and women. On occasion, God instructed his followers when and who to attack. I highly doubt that when these ancient warriors died, God judged them for doing what they perceived was righteous in a time of war.

Sometimes, killing prevents evil from spreading. Ironically, Kyle had to kill to prevent someone from killing others. It was more of an act of protection than an act of offense.

There is no doubt in my mind that Kyle is an American hero who did what was necessary in times of war. Regardless of others’ opinions, I believe his actions won’t be judged as sinful or immoral. God has his soldiers today too.

[one_third]Ironically, Kyle had to kill to prevent someone from killing others.[/one_third]

Most significantly, Kyle exemplifies the phrase “for God and country,” a term the SEAL Team 6 used when they radioed in Osama Bin Laden’s death. Today the phrase is often used to express loyalty to one’s country and morals. Doing what he believed to be righteous, he dedicated his life to protecting those he loved. He carried out the duty assigned to him, a duty that required no hesitation or regret.

Putting aside my present feelings of frustration from the movie, I think we can still learn from Kyle’s life and do everything for a purpose, and with wholehearted effort. So I’d like to say thank you, Chris Kyle, for taking the burden I will never be able to carry. I am grateful for what you did. I am grateful for every shot you took. And I am grateful for those like you today who risk everything for their country. From your life, I’ve seen what it means to endure through difficult moments, even if it means struggling all the way through. You let love lead in your job and I think that justifies all else.