For Christ and for Caesar
by Laurence M. Vance
by Laurence M. Vance
"And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's" ~ Luke 20:25
Are bombing, maiming, destroying property, killing, and genocide compatible with biblical Christianity? Patrick Henry College apparently thinks so. The war in Iraq is all of the above, yet this Christian college not only offers Army ROTC, it also offers its students as cannon fodder to the U.S. military.
Patrick Henry College is a distinctively Christian liberal arts college in Virginia known for being friendly to homeschoolers. The founder and chancellor is Michael Farris, the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association. The college's motto is "For Christ and For Liberty." Imagine my surprise when I saw in the college's News & Events that "for a growing number of PHC upperclassmen and alumni, the motto ‘for Christ and for liberty' has translated into service to their country through the United States military."
The mission of Patrick Henry College "is to prepare Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding." The vision of Patrick Henry College "is to aid in the transformation of American society by training Christian students to serve God and mankind with a passion for righteousness, justice, and mercy, through careers of public service and cultural influence."
The college will fail on both counts as long as it remains a military-friendly college.
A culture shaped by the military is not compatible with timeless biblical values. A culture shaped by today's military does not exhibit fidelity to the spirit of the American Founding. One cannot serve God and mankind in the military. However, in the military one can certainly disobey God and kill mankind.
In the college's aforementioned News & Events, we are introduced to two current students who have enlisted in the military, one recent graduate who just began basic training, and two alumni serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Kyle, a junior, explains why he joined the Marines:
I joined because I am willing and capable to do what is necessary to protect and preserve my country, even to the point of giving my own life.
I am joining the Marine Corps for the same reason I came to PHC. I would sum it up as a debt of honor we owe to our faith and to our country for the heritage and the sacrifices from which we have benefited.
Although this young man acknowledges that "not everyone can serve in the military," he believes that "everyone who is able should at least try."
Another junior, Gabe, says: "As a Christian soldier, I will gain skills that will enable me to take a very concrete, physical stand for liberty, while simultaneously furthering my long-term ability to lead the culture and to preserve the legacy of freedom bequeathed to my generation."
The writer of the News & Events column remarks that Kyle and Gabe "are joining the military simply to be of use to their country."
A recent graduate, John, "joined to be Marine Corps infantry — a ground-pounder." Because he believes that "someone is going to have to make sacrifices," he maintains that he "would rather it be those who willingly undertake its defense than innocent civilians caught in the blast of a terrorist's bomb, or enemy country's attack."
Another recent graduate, Aaron, remarks that the "times of classic military frustration" have not shaken his faith in God's leading him to where he is today. He adds: "My time in the Marines has definitely been fulfilling, and I am confident that I made the right decision in joining." Like Kyle, Aaron advises everyone join try service in the military: "If a student is an able-bodied male, they should seriously consider the military for a period of time, even if they know they do not want it to be a career."
The third recent graduate, Kevin, believes that he did not in end up in the military by accident: "God is good and has directed my steps."
I don't know what kind of Christianity they follow at Patrick Henry College, but speaking as a conservative, Bible-believing Christian, I want no part of it.
Why on earth would a Christian young person even think about joining the military? Some want to join for the enlistment bonuses, others for the generous benefits, others for the tuition assistance, others for the career training, and others for the world travel. Some no doubt believe that they would be defending our freedoms and keeping us safe from terrorist attacks. Some probably think that the military will instill discipline, toughen them up, and make them a man. Some have the purely spiritual motive of sharing the love of Christ or being a Christian example to their fellow soldiers. Some would simply be following in the footsteps of their father, brother, or friend.
Although Patrick Henry College may pride itself on its challenging curriculum, its spiritual environment, its qualified instructors, its beautiful campus, and its high academic standards, there is something missing from the education each student receives.
That something is the terrible truth about the U.S. military.
The military is a force for evil in the world. The military spreads democracy by bombs, bayonets, and bullets. The military enforces a belligerent U.S. foreign policy. The military is the world's unwanted and unloved policeman. The military garrisons the planet with troops and bases. The military is responsible for the network of brothels around the world to service U.S. troops who have no business being away from home. The military accounts for one third of all federal spending. The military accounts for over one half of total world military spending. The military increases terrorism by its foreign occupations.
The military does not defend our freedoms. The military does not secure our borders. The military does not patrol our coasts. The military does not guard our shores. The military does not fight terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them over here. The military does not protect our First Amendment rights. The military does not keep us safe. The military does not ensure that we can speak English. The military is not retaliating against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.
The greatest danger to American life, liberty, and property is not the leaders or the military of Iran, China, Russia, or Venezuela: It is the government of the United States.
If they really want to honor Christ and the Bible, Christian colleges should discontinue all ROTC programs, ban military recruiters from all their campuses, and discourage their young people from enlisting in the military. It is bad enough when atheists, agnostics, pagans, and the irreligious join the military, but it is an indelible blot on Christianity when Christians do the same.
Patrick Henry College: For Christ and for Caesar.
February 11, 2008
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from Pensacola, FL. His latest book is a new and greatly expanded edition of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State. Visit his website.
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