To be honest, sometimes it is difficult reconciling Christianity with military service. People disagree about Jesus’ attitude towards war, but I think that people like John Howard Yoder and Walter Wink make a good case. The most obvious problem is that, regardless what we think Jesus meant, the early church was clearly committed to pacifism. That’s not the problem that strikes me today, though.
One of the lectionary texts for today is the story of the banquet in Luke 14. It is another one of those stories where Jesus dissolves the normal social structure. I always believed that Jesus came in part to tear down those artificial boundaries that we use to keep people apart, yet the military is one of the great examples of social stratification. It is an organization that has clear levels, and one must always be aware of their place in the system.
I’m enough of a socialist to be really bothered by that. It’s hard to speak truth to power when you’re in the group that has the power. Fortunately, chaplains aren’t quite bound by the same expectations. One of the supply sergeants gives me a hug every time that she comes into the office. I’m probably the only officer in the battalion that regularly gets a hug. I’m sure the others are jealous.
Pray for peace…