Independence Day Has a Price
"All militaries are evil. I do not want to explain it or discuss it." Those were the words of a professor that I had some time back. I cannot believe he started his opinion in that manner and without explanation, but he did. The catalyst was our military's recent involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. His purpose was unclear given his lack of explanation.
All I can remember thinking was that those were big words coming from a man speaking to a captive audience of seminary students under the covering of freedom provided to him by the shed blood and sacrificed lives of his fellow Americans. Maybe if he had the courage to explain himself we would have found that he had a good point to make - but we are left in the dark to wonder what he meant. The atmosphere in the room became tense. There was an instant change in the overall mood of the students. Some were clearly angry. Some appeared to be bewildered. It was clear that the professor had succeeded in letting loose a charge of emotions and thoughts without taking the time or effort to bring about a resolution to the uneasy quandary that he had created.
Many Christians find themselves in a similar political and philosophical "no man's land" when it comes to the subject of our military's involvement around the world. They desperately want to reconcile their patriotism with their faith - but there seems to be contradictions for some. Some, like my professor, even hide behind an elitist attitude of moral and spiritual superiority.
Still, for others, the more they see on CNN the muddier the water gets. We are bombarded with questions. Where should Christian people stand when the fighting starts? How do we reconcile our beliefs in the Christian virtues of love, peace, mercy and social justice with patriotism and a world filled with potential terrorists? As Americans, must we wave the flag no matter the cause?
If by waving the flag you mean that we must always agree with our government, I would have a problem with that. We are free to think what we will. If by waving the flag you mean that we must like the idea of war, well, that gives me problems as well. Patriotism and war mongering are not the same. We could go on and on forever - just watch the news channels and you will see what I mean. Patriotism is about loyalty and devotion to one's nation and the ideals for which it stands. Unfortunately, from time to time a nation must stand up for itself and its ideals, and sometimes it has to use its military to do so.
I am a Christian, a pastor, and have been theologically trained, but I still cannot understand or abide those spineless detractors who hide behind a theologically elitist attitude and who would cast broad unexplained condemnation upon the very institution that helped purchase our freedom and who continues to defend it. Maybe my professor had a well thought out explanation of his indictment of "all militaries." In fact, I do not fault him for having an opinion, many are protecting his right to express it right now, only that he was too gutless to stand up and be counted. He had the freedom; I guess that he was just too cowardly to use it.
As for me, as my nation celebrates its day of freedom this Independence Day, I would like to say thank you to all those military veterans who have served and who still serve our great nation - especially to those who just want to come home.