In the United States armed forces, Bible-believing military chaplains will be subjected to affliction. Chaplains who believe in the power of the Gospel and put their faith into practice – will be reprehended, reviled, slandered, not be liked or popular, forfeit special duty, and their military career will always be in jeopardy because others will view their conduct as scandalous. This is because Scripture informs every believer that if they serve Christ, they must be willing to pick up their crosses (Mark 8:34-38), rejoice over persecution (Matthew 5:12) and consider it worthy to suffer for the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ (Acts 5:41).
Sadly, there are many professing Christian chaplains in the U.S. military that will speak boldly from their chapels on Sunday, but the rest of their week they will act like politicians or practical atheists. I have witnessed several compromising military chaplains that will: omit the name of Christ in public prayer, never offend anyone by confronting sin or telling others that they are wrong, and will allow the military culture to dictate their faith instead of using the Bible to dictate their conduct. Why would a military chaplain do this? Fear, self-preservation, men-pleasing, a desire to be liked, apostasy and/or a greater love for his career than Christ.
Military chaplains who affirm the absolute sovereignty of God and the plenitude of deity that resides in the resurrected and exalted Savior must be willing to disavow every practice and argument that will impede on the responsibility to herald the name of Jesus Christ in the armed forces. This article will explain a few ways how:
1. “You cannot be exclusive; you need to be inclusive of all!”
Response: The moment you admonish me to be inclusive, but you do not tolerate my beliefs, you are violating your own requirement to be inclusive since you are not inclusive at all. On the contrary, you are exclusive – which means that you are only tolerant of beliefs that are commensurate with yours, since true inclusivity would require you to be inclusive of those with exclusive convictions. This is why your argument is really not about inclusivity – but your agenda.
2. “You need to put aside your beliefs to care for others!”
Response: I find it ironic that you admonish me to abandon or eviscerate my beliefs to care for the rights of others, except my own. What about the rights of others who affirm the same theological convictions I espouse? Don’t their sincerely held beliefs matter? Or, does the free exercise of religion only apply to service members whose beliefs comport with yours?
3. “If you are not inclusive, you are going to be a burden to your commander!”
Response: First, do you believe in the establishment clause, which prohibits Congress from establishing a religion, and also the free exercise of religion, which guarantees Americans the right to practice their faith? If you say yes, please explain to me what “established” theology I should espouse and “what religion” I should practice that will not be a burden to a commander. This is a double-edged question, because either way you answer this question, you will prove your argument to be self-defeating and circular.
4. “You’re not fit to be a military chaplain; you’re so judgmental!”
Response: Is it wrong to be judgmental? If you say yes, tell me: Why are you being so judgmental toward me for allegedly being judgmental of others? By calling me judgmental, you are violating your own contention that judging is wrong by reprehending me for allegedly judging others for being judgmental.
5. “Do not evangelize; that is proselytizing!”
Response: Actually, there are no policies in the U.S. military that definitively prohibit evangelism, especially if the practice of evangelism is voluntary and respectable. However, given the fact that you are telling me that my standard of evangelism is wrong and yours is right, you appear to be analyzing them both by your criteria and are implying that I must conform to this standard. If this is correct, it appears that you are the one who is proselytizing, since you are giving me a direct order that I must conform to a theological position that would violate what my conscience dictates.
6.” Do not pray in Jesus’ name publicly, or you will offend someone!”
Response: First, what policy, rule, law, or regulation prohibits me from praying in the name of Jesus? If you cannot explicitly provide me with the evidence per my request, then is your direct order even lawful? Therefore, I will not omit the name of my Lord.
Second, there are no rules, laws, policies, or regulations that protects a service-member from being offended over public prayers in the name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, offense does not equal coercion, which is why pandering to individuals who complain, make threats, or are offended over theological dogma is not necessary.
Third, you seem to forget that Christians are commanded to do “everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Colossians 3:17). Since you are worried about offending others, you should be concerned how Christians will feel if they hear that you have ordered me to omit the name of my Lord. This is an order I will not obey. I will pray in the name of Jesus.
7. “The beliefs you espouse publicly on your off-duty time will affect your officership!”
Response: Would you please explain to me “what beliefs” I should affirm in my “public life” that will not violate your standard of officership? If you are not able to explain “what beliefs” I must affirm, you are not proving that my conduct is unbecoming of an officer; all you are proving is that you do not like my beliefs. If you explain “beliefs” officers should affirm that are acceptable to you, that will not violate their officership, you are arguing for a policy that does not exist, since there are no policies, rules, laws, or regulations that articulate a specific belief all officers must conform to that will not adversely affect their officership.
The greatest reward
If you are a military chaplain, please understand that it is imperative that you persevere. The task will not be easy. The world will hate you (John 15:18), and you must be willing to sacrifice everything you have, to include your life. Not only is this task costly, it offers the greatest reward, which is the eternal enjoyment with God in glory. This is why you must not ever compromise and never embrace neutrality with anyone or anything that does not yield to and obey Christ in all matters of faith and practice.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are solely his and do not necessarily represent the views of any government, military, or religious organization. Sonny Hernandez wrote this article as a civilian on his own time on an issue of public interest.