(Tim) Part of the work of pastors and elders in churches with military men is helping those men think through the morality of war, today. And lately, it's not been easy to say that the Christian man can enter any branch of the Armed Forces and accept any assignment.
Of course, we start with the Christian's opposition to carpet bombing and nuclear warheads. A basic commitment of historic Christian principles of just war has been the distinction between military personnel and civilians. No matter who orders them to do so, Christian soldiers don't kill civilians, intentionally.
There's also the matter of the mainstreaming of women in military deployments. This leads to at least two critical issues.
First, men going into the military must pick a branch of the service where they aren't going to have to live with gross temptations to fornication and adultery. Modesty matters to Christian men and women and this means the Marines are more likely a better choice...
than the Navy, where even submarines will have women mixed with men in the most intimate confines.
Second, if the pregnancy rate on ships in the first Gulf War was ten to fifteen percent, we can guess it's at least as high, now. This means a significant number of women in our armed forces are carrying unborn children. Again, this is contrary to one of the basic principles of just war: that every attempt be made to minimize the loss of life--particularly the lives of non-combatants. What could be more of a senseless risk of non-combatant life than sending a woman into harm's way who may well be pregnant?
There are many other areas of concern, but just one more, for the time being.
Back when gunpowder first came to the West, it was the subject of intense debate whether it was right for men to use it to kill one another. Some believed gunpowder allowed too much distance between enemies and that there should be personal engagement in the act of killing. It seems laughable, now, but consider the step we've recently taken, where the Hellfire missile blowing up a home and its occupants in Pakistan is flown to that home and the missile deployed by a man who lives in Las Vegas and will soon be at his young son's soccer game. Or at church for a deacons meeting. Or home in bed with his wife.
These are the discipleship questions of men in my church, and pastors and elders must help them apply Scripture and the confessions as they seek to follow Christ their Lord.
Here's an article that helps us think about this last matter.
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This is combat in the age of video games and virtual reality. Even
though drone pilots operate from half a world away, they are as engaged
in deadly combat as any pilot inside an airplane.
A drone pilot can fire on an insurgent dug into the Afghan hills and be home in time for a backyard barbecue. In just an hour or two, the pilot can go from a heated argument with a spouse to a tense radio conversation with an amped-up soldier pinned down by weapons fire.
"On the drive out here, you get yourself ready to enter the compartment of your life that is flying combat," said retired Col. Chris Chambliss, who until last summer commanded drone operations at Creech Air Force Base, the command center for seven Air Force bases in the continental U.S. where crews fly drones over Iraq and Afghanistan. "And on the drive home, you get ready for that part of your life that's going to be the soccer game."
Drone crews don't put their lives at risk. Instead, they juggle vast streams of video and data. With briefings both before and after their missions, their workdays typically stretch to 10 or 11 hours. Many of the pilots are experienced military fliers, but the camera operators tend to be much younger -- often only 19 or 20, and new to the stresses of combat.
Just like troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, drone crews have access to chaplains, psychologists and doctors. They are taught to keep an eye on one another for signs of stress.
The psychological challenges are unique: Pilots say that despite the distance, the video feed gives them a more intimate feel for the ground than they would have from a speeding warplane. Some say they would prefer to be in Afghanistan or Iraq to avoid the daily adjustment from the soccer field to the battlefield. (continue reading)