I’m In the Lord’s Army

I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery, I may never soar o’er the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s army – Yes, sir!

I’m in the Lord’s army – Yes, sir!

I’m in the Lord’s army – Yes, sir!

I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery, I may never soar o’er the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s army –

Yes, sir!

Today in the United States we celebrate Veterans’ Day, thanking each person who put himself or herself at the service of our country in the military. When I was growing up in the Vietnam War era, service was required of males. Both of my half-brothers served in the Air Force at that time. My father had attempted to serve in World War II (he was actually exempt because of the work his company was doing building magnetos – he joined the Navy anyway and was discharged because of a perforated ulcer just before his unit set sail for the Pacific Ocean Theater), and my grandfather was a veteran of World War I. I personally have never been militarily inclined (believe me, they wouldn’t want me), but I am aware of the tremendous debt that I owe to those who have put themselves at the service of our country.

Christians have long seen themselves as “soldiers for Christ,” hearkening back to St. Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 2:3-4:

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

As St. Paul and his contemporaries knew, an enlisted man or woman can expect to “suffer hardship” – it’s part of the job description. Once you sign up, your life is no longer your own. In this country you take an oath along the lines of “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” You obey orders because you have sworn to do so, and also because there are some pretty serious consequences for disobedience. During wartime, a soldier can be sentenced to death for willfully disobeying a lawful order given by a superior commissioned officer. Let’s face it, the military would basically cease to function, were soldiers granted the option of “opting out.”

What I would like you to do now is to envision a radically different type of military, the likes of which the world has never seen. Envision a military swarming with enlisted men and women, all loyal to the Cause, a military in which each and every member is under the impression that he or she reports directly to the Supreme Commander. Higher-ranking officers dutifully attempt to relay the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, as they understand them, to the rank and file, but any commands given by those higher-ranking officers themselves are obeyed on an as-desired basis, with no effective disciplinary system in place to deal with infractions. Each soldier interprets the Big Guy’s orders for himself, and then decides on the basis of his interpretation whether he really has to obey his commanding officer’s orders or not. No soldier is required to take orders from another soldier. When these men and women go out on the battlefield, they are all equal. They obey whom they choose, when they choose, at their discretion, while simultaneously claiming that ultimately they ARE obeying orders – their interpretation of the orders which have issued forth from the Command Center. If a superior officer starts to get on their nerves for whatever reason, they avail themselves of the ever-present option of transferring to another unit where the officers give orders more to their liking. It’s a comfy little set-up, a kind of DIY military for folks who believe that they are the ones best qualified to interpret the Supreme Commander’s orders and implement them in their lives. It’s soooo much more congenial than the traditional, regimented military system most people are familiar with, and it attracts all kinds of volunteers to join the ranks.

Yeah, that’d work – till there’s a war on.

Oh, wait – there’s a war on….

Now, how’s that gonna work??

 

On the memorial of St. Martin of Tours

Deo omnis gloria!

Postscript: On this Veterans’ Day, go to ChurchMilitant.com and pick up a Combat Rosary!

Photo credits: Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division conducted mission-essential task list air assault training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord May 22 prior to the brigade’s rotation at the National Training Center, Ft. Irwin, Ca. in June, by the US Army/Wikimedia

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