Recently twenty-one religious organisations sent a letter to the three Chiefs of Chaplains voicing their concerns about the impact of the repeal of “don’t ask/don’t tell” (DADT) relative to homosexuals in the military, and specifically with chaplains being required to perform same sex civil marriages. Some of the letter is as follows:
Thank you for your service to our country and our chaplains at this critical time in our nation’s history. We, the undersigned endorsing agents, represent faith groups that have tens of millions of members and who endorse over a thousand military chaplains to provide for the spiritual and moral needs of both the hundreds of thousands of service members who share our faith and those who do not. We know that you are collectively facing many difficult decisions, especially in light of the repeal of DADT. Because these decisions have such potentially far-reaching consequences, both intended and unintended, we desire to make our concerns known to you in light of the recently published Navy Chief of Chaplains revised directive regarding the use of base chapels for same-sex unions and the recent memo of suspension. We have been informed that the Navy’s action was based on legal advice from DoD that was also provided to the other Chief of Chaplains’ offices…
Of equally grave concern is the fact that chaplains are instructors of conscience. Chaplains have a tremendous moral responsibility to insure that when they preach, teach or counsel, they do so in accordance with their conscience and in harmony with the faith group by which they are endorsed. When guidance, however, is forthcoming from senior leadership that implies protected status for those who engage in homosexual behavior and normalizes same-sex unions in base chapels, any outside observer would conclude that both homosexuality and homosexual unions officiated as marriages in base chapels are normative. This creates an environment that is increasingly hostile to the many chaplains—and the service members they serve—whose faith groups and personal consciences recognize homosexual behavior as immoral and unsafe and do not permit same-sex unions.
Some of the “classical Pentecostal” churches represented on this letter are as follows:
- Foursquare Church
- Pentecostal Holiness Church
- Church of God of Prophecy
There were other numerous “full gospel” endorsers represented as well, along with other Evangelical churches and, for my Anglican visitors, the ACNA. (This was my first awareness that the ACNA endorsed military chaplains.)
Conspicuously absent from this were the Assemblies of God and my own church, the Church of God. Given the church’s historical position on this subject, embodied in General Assembly resolutions and in its ministerial policies, this doesn’t make sense to me. Why not?
The comeback that LGBT people would have, of course, to a letter such as this is that conscience shouldn’t be a cover for hate. That, of course, has as its assumption that people’s objections to homosexual behaviour is based on hatred. And, if the LGBT community leadership gets the idea we need a draft again, I suppose that the whole concept of conscientious objectors will be out the window, too.
My comeback, as always, is that we don’t need civil marriage.