Blessed Centurions

Russell Minick Leave a Comment

I served as a Marine.  So did my wife.  On Memorial Day, if we are in church in the US, we are usually invited to stand and receive appreciation.  It is a nice gesture.
I’m FaceBook friends with some guys from the Marine Corps.  Most of our memories we like to joke about have nothing to do with keeping our Great Nation safe.  Mainly we were young, drunken, adventure seekers.
Do those ideas go together?  Sometimes.  But often I struggle with spontaneous adoration of those in uniform, particularly from a Christian religious community.  It seems naive at best, idolatrous at worst.
I am not a full blown Anabaptist.  I do believe there is a place for Christians in civil government, including serving in the military.  But how do I then play out that concept?  Is a Christian serving the German army, Chinese army, Mexican army, Nepalese army to be affirmed equally?  In what way do we modify our affections for them?  Is it to the degree of virtue in the nation they serve?  Is it in their own motives for serving?  Is it in the actual battles they fight and the virtue of those particular battles?
The point for me is the constant struggle with delusion vs. despair.  Yes, there are ways to affirm military service, but not by projecting virtues just because we like to believe they are there, or because it is a nifty opportunity to differentiate ourselves from others.  Life is seldom simple in a fallen world, and treating something like war and violence as simply good or bad is an indulgence that does not hit the target.  Fortunately the Marines taught me how to hit the target: Breath, Relax, Aim, Squeeze, Select another target.  Even on Memorial Day a little BRASS might help.

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