24 June 2017

A Very Confused Marine

This is one of those stories that got a lot of traction in Evangelical circles but it's so fraught with problems it's difficult to know where to begin. I see little point in investing a great deal of time and energy in hashing out an extensive commentary but a few points are warranted.

A woman marine?
This is problematic on many levels, even from what could be called a generalised natural law position. I'll put it differently. Many lost persons, people of other religions for example, would have a problem with women entering into the fighting elite, a professional killer core, the machismo motivated fighter force the Marines are said to represent. Even non-Christians in many cases see that there's a problem with a woman that would wish to be part of the military, let alone the Marines.
It must be granted that not every Marine is toting a gun. There are a host of other jobs within the bureaucracy. They need secretaries and clerks too. Yet, the Marines are different. Unlike the other branches of the military, all Marines receive combat training and all are expected to be able to take up the gun... something not really emphasised in the other branches.
From a Christian standpoint, her joining the Marines is abhorrent and on more than one level.
First, as Christians we are told (in 1 Corinthians 7 for example) to avoid enslaving ourselves to anyone and by implication worldly institutions. When you 'join' the military forces, you are owned. You are effectively a slave even if you get a paycheck. They tell you what to do, when to do it, how to do it etc. and you ultimately cannot refuse. If you do, you'll be punished and face fine and imprisonment. Christians have no business joining the military and participating in its evil deeds. Much more could be said on that score.
Second Christian women especially should not join the military. They are abandoning their calling first and foremost to be Christians and to bear witness to the world but on another level they are denying Christian womanhood and what for most will be the call to be a mother. I fully realise there are many professing Christian mothers in the military. Yes, they're in sin and they need to get out and repent. They are being horrible role models for their children, both sons and daughters and they are contributing to the Christian breakdown and confusion over Scripturally defined marriage.
If the lost world wants to put women in the military and confuse genders and all the rest of it... fine, that has little to do with us. But when professing Christians like this woman enter the military and in their utter confusion raise these types of arguments... we're all dragged into the discussion.
Finally, though the military is wrong to suppress Christianity, we can hardly be surprised by it. The military and its goals are fundamentally against Christ and His Kingdom. Faithful Christians will not flourish in the military. They will be oppressed and suffer. It's no place for a believer. I can attest to that personally. By God's grace I got out and was liberated from the tyranny and wickedness of the Pentagon... and my own foolishness in signing up in the first place. At least I can say I did so as a lost person.
So on one level the suppression of Christianity is offensive. On another, it's kind of like a stripper complaining that she can't wear a Bible verse outfit while she does her routine. It's all rather absurd.
Additionally this very misguided woman has failed to understand something very basic about US law and the military. When you sign on the dotted line, raise your hand and sell your soul... they own you. There are no Constitutional rights anymore. You're under the Universal Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Free speech, freedom of religion and all the other rights that are supposed to function in our society are no longer applicable. I don't feel too sorry for people that sign up, take the many benefits and perks and then whine when they didn't realise that they sold their souls.
Finally, this woman demonstrates on another level that she has not understood the Gospel when she thinks the answer to all this is to file a lawsuit. Vengeance is mine saith the Lord. No, this professing Christian Marine thinks that vengeance belongs to her and she's calling on the Babylonian state to give her justice, to stand up for 'rights' so that... what? She can 'express' her faith in the workplace? Is that what we're called to do? Are we to use the state and its threat of violence and coercion to defend Christ's Kingdom and help it spread? We're to call on the state for justice and use it as a means of vengeance?
If her superiors are found to be in error they will face punishment. Granted they will not die but her actions have the potential to harm them and their families. They're wrong and wicked people, but we're told that we as Christians do not take vengeance nor are we to seek it. Her moment to 'witness' has been destroyed because instead of bearing the cross... she (as it were) took up the sword.
No, this woman, a hero to many Evangelicals is a great shame to Christ's Church. I urge her to repent and use her public platform to repudiate her thoughts and actions and the doctrines of the churches and denominations that brought her to this place.
As far as her discharge and loss of benefits, she got what she deserved and for things to have gone that far... there's obviously more to it. She had a problem following orders and obviously made some people really angry. All other issues aside, from a pragmatic standpoint she could have taken the verses down and pursued her case through other channels rather than be defiant.
But again, she voluntarily signed herself up to live within and to receive a paycheck from this particular chain of command. If she can't live by its code she shouldn't be in it....
I would argue Christians cannot be part of this cultic machine and have no business even trying. Her getting kicked out was the best thing that ever happened to her.
See also:


  1. Regarding your Princeton piece:

    I thought your comments about Westminster were fitting. A couple of friends went there and they've been frustrated with the sacking of Doug Green. I may disagree with his Christotelic interpretation, but it was not out of line. But the real reason for his sacking was that wealthy donors did not like it and pulled the necessary strings. In addition, Westminster is a part of the push to inject Reformed theology into China, and accordingly they don't want a "messy Bible", which seemed like an attempt to straightjacket theology. Anyway, it really is all about power, and may God save China from such Reformed theologians!

    1. Is there someplace I can read about what you're saying about Wesminster and China? I'd like to check that out.

    2. That piece of info about a "messy Bible" was shared by a friend was word of mouth. But Westminster is part of a general push by Reformed seminaries to translate classic Reformed texts and popular contemporary work (e.g. Piper, Keller, Carson, et al.) into Chinese, and help bring Reformed theology into Chinese seminaries. There's a pretty good article about happenings is here: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/young-restless-and-reformed-in-china

  2. From the Gospel Coalition article:
    “It deals with the relationship between church and state, and between church and society,” Fulton said. “Both of those are burning questions in the mind of intellectual Christians in China.”

    This line haunts me--proto

    Chinese church leaders are writing books of church order.

    This line makes me want to weep.—proto

    Ministries like John Piper’s Desiring God, Mark Dever’s 9Marks, and Tim Keller’s City to City releasedChinese versions of their websites.

    I am groaning—proto

    Again like I mentioned in my recent Princeton piece, this article hits me hard... how much I've changed. If I read this in 1995 I would have rejoiced. Today my feelings and response are quite different.

    1. Well, considering it's a TGC article, I expect some padding about Reformed in-roads. The article concludes with Reformed theology's still limited impact in terms of numbers and the fact that the greatest church/institutional proponent of Reformed theology is in the midst of possible corruption scandals. If anything, this sort of theology will become popular with the TSM, maybe an Evangelical wing akin to the one in the COE during the 18th and 19th centuries. But I hope this sort of thing will dry up sooner than later, though cash-influx and the glittering gems of respectability can do devastating work.