A Christian in the Army

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…

3 thoughts on “A Christian in the Army

  1. Hi Dr. Ridenour!
    I just wanted to say hello since reading the article about you in the OBU magazine. I am praying for you and your family. I graduated in May and I am headed to Haiti to work with friends who do educational, agricultural, well-drilling work. i’ll be checking your blog and praying for you and your crew in the days to come.

  2. Randy,
    Jim, one of the few people we know who still puts letters in an envelope, sent Carol and me your article from the OBU magazine. The part that particularly caught my attention was when you pointed out that “God will enable you to do things which, by any reasonable act of your skills, you can’t do”. It is a subtle but significant point lost on many who serve. We are often tempted to feel God needs our help kind of like he needs our money since he is obviously fiscally incapable of supporting His ministry. God doesn’t need our money, He wants our obedience. He doesn’t need our help but wants us to be willing to serve and trust in Him in His work. When the only explanation for how something got done is that God must have been behind it, then you’re going about it in the right way. So far as that whole Christianity and military service thing, good luck with that one. I have trouble reconciling Christianity with pretty much everything except Love and I don’t pretend to really understand that one.

    May God keep you in the palm of His hand
    Your brother,

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