Pleasing Your Commanding Officer
The apostle Paul said, "No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer." (2 Tim 2:4, NIV). Paul was using the analogy of the military to show that when you are a soldier of Christ, you are in the Lord's army, serving Jesus as your Commanding Officer. Therefore, you should avoid entangling yourself in affairs that are not directly furthering His kingdom purposes. Those would be considered "civilian" affairs, as far as the kingdom of God is concerned, and they are not the business of a soldier. Rather, they are a distraction from his one aim, which is to please the Lord, his commanding officer. For more on this, please see Pleasing the Lord.
One of the things I found very difficult in the US Army as a new Christian in the 1980's was the lack of fellowship with other Christians. No matter how much I wanted to keep myself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27), and live totally for Jesus, I found it difficult to do so without the fellowship of other Christians.
In fact, as a single soldier, I had to live in the barracks, which meant I had three roommates who were not Christians. They were living the same way I had previously been living before I came to Christ. So the music, partying, drinking, foul language, television programs, and sexually explicit videos were not easy to cope with. What fellowship does light have with darkness? It's one thing to encounter this when you go to work, but it's another thing when you have to live in that kind of environment all the time. It can really wear on you after a while and run down your spiritual strength like a depleted battery. "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals.'” (1 Cor 15:33).
In fact, that is what led to my temporarily backsliding away from the Lord after I became a Christian. Four months after I got saved, I was transferred to Berlin, Germany. There I did not have Christian friends in my unit, and I decided not to attend the chapel on post, since I did not share the same theology on certain topics. This lack of fellowship and gathering together for worship with other believers caused me to fall away from the Lord. Let me warn you not to do that. You can read more about my experience in Drifting Away.
Not only is it difficult to find fellowship from strong fellow-believers, but as I explained in my article, Reaching the Military for Christ, there is a predominant, antichrist spirit in the military. At least that is the case in the US Armed Forces, and is very likely so in other countries, too. This means that as a Christian in the military, you will face a culture of fear, intimidation, ridicule, mockery, harassment, pressure, antagonism, open hostility, and even unjust punishment for doing right. You will not have the privilege to freely exercise your religious freedom. You will be prohibited from sharing your faith, forbidden from praying publicly, and even dismissed from duty for refusing to surrender your religious convictions. You will be attacked for holding to the fundamental truths of your faith. You will be portrayed as a “right-wing extremist” and “potential terrorist”.
Even the chaplains, who are there to help you spiritually, are also subject to these same things. They are being persecuted for using the Bible, saying the name of Jesus, or promoting Christianity. The powers-that-be in the U.S. military are diligently seeking to remove any references to our Christian heritage and Christian beliefs from the military. This explains why large number of Christians are leaving the military or never joining in the first place, in order to avoid the hostile environment. Therefore, give serious consideration to this before you join. I have forewarned you!
One of the things soldiers are often required to do is to work on Sundays. This occurs during initial BASIC training, Advanced Individual Training, field exercises, alerts, deployments, assignments, conflicts, and wars. The Bible tells us to honor the Lord's day and keep it holy. We are not supposed to work on Sundays, or do anything profane that we could do any other day of the week. We are supposed to focus on Him, worship Him, and be with those who love Him. I have covered this topic in depth in the following articles: Resting from Work, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II, and Famous Christian Sabbath Observers.
If someone is an emergency rescue personnel, whether civilian or military, and their job requires them to work on Sunday sometimes, that is unavoidable and it's understood that they are doing good. Examples of this would be doctors, nurses, para-rescue workers, ambulance technicians, and firemen. Christians in such positions must sometimes work on Sundays to provide these emergency services, and that is understood. But it will affect them spiritually if they are always working on Sundays and they should try to get a work schedule that allows them some Sundays off. But for those who are not in such emergency rescue services, then they should not work on the Lord's Day. Since the military often requires their personnel to work on Sundays for non-emergency reasons, it is not a situation you should seek to get yourself into. Please consider this before joining.
As I explained in my articles, Onward Christian Soldier and Bearing Arms, there may be times when military personnel are ordered to do things that go against conscience. This can involve many types of duties, but there is a very high likelihood that you may be faced with that reality if you join the military. You must not compromise your convictions or do anything that would displease the Lord. Because of that, you would not be able to obey your leaders in those situations, which means you would be punished for insubordination. The punishment could be very severe, depending on the situation and the country you live in. So you need to consider that before you commit yourself to military service.
In addition to all that I have just stated, the US military is the first major military in the world to become openly homosexual. This has negatively impacted unit morale and cohesiveness, and over 10,000 straight male members of the US military were assaulted by openly gay members during a single year. Please take this into consideration before you join.
As I explained in my article, Women in the Military, if you are a Christian woman thinking about joining the military, then there are some women's issues to consider. These include the dangers of sexual harassment and rape, which are a very real threat to women in the military, as well as post-traumatic stress syndrome. You also need to consider the matter of cross-dressing. Before you dismiss these issues as silly or thinking it is nothing to be concerned about, please do your research, beginning with the article I just linked to above.
Loss of Freedoms
It's understood that our military servicemen and women voluntarily give up many of their freedoms and privileges in order to serve their country. But loss of their religious freedoms should not be one of them. Generally speaking, those who enlist are giving control of their lives over to their commander and to the Department of Defense. It could be compared to slavery, just as many people in civilian jobs are economic slaves.
The apostle Paul said, "Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them." (1 Cor 7:20-24, NIV).
If you apply this to joining the military, then it would mean that if you are a Christian who is not yet in the military, you should not join; and if you are were already in the military when God called you to follow Christ, you should not let it trouble you, but it you have a chance to get out, you should do so. You must not become slaves of men.
Putting it All Together
I hope this has helped to give you some Scriptural guidance as you consider serving in the military. I have only touched on a few things at a high level, since I have covered them in more depth in the articles I referred to above. For more detail on this topic please see those other articles, as well as the source articles below. Prayerfully consider all these things.
I pray the Lord will cause your love to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best, and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Phil 1:9-11).
Sources: The following sites will direct your browser away from the Doulos Military Ministry blog:
Faith Crimes: Christian Persecution in Obama’s America
Christians Are Being Systematically Purged From The U.S. Military
Military of the Beast : Christian Army Chaplain punished for sharing his Faith (video)
Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, where noted. The "Far Away" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. His artwork is available at inspired-art.
Author's Note: I also recommend reading Onward Christian Soldier, Women in the Military, Reaching the Military for Christ, Bearing Arms, Military Suicide Epidemic, The Cost of Discipleship, The Truth Set Me Free!, Overcomers in This Life, The Afflictions of the Righteous, The End Time Saints, Keeping a Good Conscience, The Glory of Martyrdom for Christ, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, The Kingdom of Darkness, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Is Obedience Optional?, Restored Truth, Aim for Perfection, The Straight and Narrow Path, America’s Destruction is at Hand, Wars and Rumors of Wars, and Unselfish Hearts. You are invited to view my collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.