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2021-0616 - Paul Bussi, Big Sky, MT

  Thoughts while driving the canyon.  

Why are Christians in the United States supportive of our military. I always thought that our military men and women - the soldiers - were worthy of thanks for the job they do to protect our country. Then it dawned on me today that many are pawns drawn into the military for some other reason then the desire to kill people that our politicians think are bad or at least doing, planning to do, or have done bad things. When I was a missionary with Youth With a Mission at the New York base (we're talking way back in the late 1980s) I went to a military recruiter to find out about becoming a spy. I was good with languages and logic. Then I called my "little sister" Jennifer Jacobsen (not really my sister, but we refered to each other as sister and brother back in high school) and told her about it. "Do you want to kill people" she asked. Well, that settled it. I didn't want to go into the military because that's what one might have to do; and everyone entering is trained to kill.

One week at Houghton College we had a Christian Life Emphasis Week speaker who questioned career choices based on Christian values. He suggested that being a pugilist did not fit with Christian values. If boxing doesn't fit, then how does being a soldier? I understand that Saint Augustine suggested that war could be just if it met certain criteria. I don't think most military actions today, by the USA or other countries, meet those standards. Most of our wars today are over economic issues, grudges, and such. Sure, sometimes we are fighting for the right reasons. We quickly aided Kuwait when they were attacked by Iraq. We very slowly aided the Bosnians when they were being killed in the 1990s.

I understand the patriotic attitude that motivates supporting our troops. As a Christian I'm not sure how patriotism fits into my Biblical world view. George Scott Railton penned "no home on earth have I; no nation owns my soul." As a critical thinking US citizen I wonder how military service by the lower level troops fits in with our economy. Are many of them doing it because it's a good job, or for job training, or to help pay college costs? If our military is fighting to defend our national interests, then that's an economic mission for the most part, isn't it? And if our beloved troops are participating for economic reasons, then the recursion of motives and actions gets not only complicated, but ignored in public discourse and analysis as far as I can tell.

I certainly support our troops as people. They have made life choices compelled by personal and family history factors, economic factors, or something else, and most likely a combination of several factors. They are people. I support them as such. But do I support the role of fighter ready to kill the enemy at the behest of our government? As a patriot I do. But my patriotism ends where my understanding of Jesus Christ's life and ministry begins. In Matthew 5 Jesus said “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well." Clearly Jesus is talking about personal issues here not national issues. Then again "no nation owns my soul."

Does supporting our troops, then, include understanding the economic forces that compell the choice to enter military service for so many?