Letter to a Christian Young Man Regarding Joining the Military

The following letter was sent to a Christian young man I know who was considering joining the military. He hasn’t joined as of yet, and I hope and pray that he doesn’t. I am posting this letter publicly in the hope that it might persuade some Christian young men I don’t know from joining the military.

Dear ______:

I have been told that you are thinking about joining the military. I hope I am misinformed. I understand that you are having trouble finding a job, but think that, as a Christian young man, you are making a big mistake if you join today’s military.

First of all, you were raised in a Christian home and went to Christian schools your whole life. You will be needlessly exposed to much wickedness in the military. You will unnecessarily face temptations that you have never been exposed to. Why put yourself in this position? It is a fact that there is a network of brothels around the world to service U.S. troops stationed overseas. I know that you are a clean young man and have a girlfriend, but don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you can remain clean in the military. Because I write on war and military issues, I have scores of veterans, Christian and otherwise, who have written me that will back up everything I am saying.

Second, it is one thing to join the military out of a sense of patriotism, but how does joining the military for financial reasons make you any different than a mercenary? I know that sounds harsh, but would you consider joining the military if you had a good job right now?

Third, the senseless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have no end in sight. There is no guarantee that you will not be sent to Iraq, Afghanistan, or some other God-forsaken place where you could be in danger of losing life or limb. And for what?

Fourth, you can’t trust military recruiters. Like a car salesman, they are trying to make their monthly quota. They have been caught on tape lying to young men, even telling them that no troops were being sent to Iraq anymore.

Fifth, I know that you have a very low opinion of the new president, Barack Obama. I share your opinion completely. As a member of the military, Obama would be your commander in chief. You could be sent anywhere to fight for Obama. Are you willing to fight and possibly die because Obama thinks it necessary to send American troops into some other war?

Sixth, in the military, you will be expected to blindly follow the orders of your officers. Independent thought is not tolerated. Please consider the words of U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler (1881—1940), a two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner: “Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.” Major General Butler became disillusioned with military service and wrote a famous book called War Is a Racket in which he said: “War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”

Seventh, the purpose of the U.S. military is to defend America. But not only is the military not being used in defense of the country, it is being used to guard the borders, patrol the coasts, and defend the shores of other countries. The purpose of the military has been perverted by the interventionist foreign policy of the United States. There are American troops stationed in 147 countries and 10 territories. I know this for a fact because I have researched this in official Department of Defense documents and written about it on many occasions. The current use of the military is contrary to the American Founding Fathers’ policy of nonintervention in the affairs of other countries.

Eighth, joining the military may have an adverse effect on your future family. I know that you have a girlfriend that you are very serious about. You should know that the breakup of marriages and relationships because of soldiers being deployed to Iraq and elsewhere is epidemic. Multiple duty tours and increased deployment terms are the death knell for stable families. What makes you think that the military will never send you away from your family for an extended period of time? You know that the possibility exists, so why gamble with your family? And then, as if being away from your family wasn’t bad enough on you and them, some soldiers come home with such physical and/or mental problems that they are unable to return to civilian life. Debt, doctors, and divorce lawyers soon consume their finances.

Ninth, joining the military means that you may be put into a position where you will have to kill or be killed. What guarantee do you have that you will be in a non-combat role? Can you in good conscience pull the trigger against any “enemy” that the U.S. government sends you thousands of miles away to kill?

And finally, you would have problems even if you went into the military as a chaplain. Taxpayer-supported chaplains have to serve two masters: God and the state. Compromise is inevitable. He that pays the piper calls the tune. To become a chaplain in the U.S. military, one must obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement from an organization approved by the Pentagon as an Endorsing Ecclesiastical Organization. According to the chaplain requirements, one of the things that the endorsement should certify is that a military chaplain should be “sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.” I know that you are a conservative Christian and are averse to compromising your religious convictions. You will, however, be expected to do just that. As a chaplain, you would be expected to ask God to bless the actions of U.S. troops even if they were fighting in an unjust war. Can you in good conscience do this?

Please remember that if you join the military, there is no getting out until your enlistment period is up. I hope and pray that you don’t make the mistake of joining.

In Christ Jesus our Savior,

Laurence Vance

If any readers are veterans, consider themselves to be Christians, agree with the sentiments expressed in this letter, and would be willing to let me append their name, branch, and rank to any future use of this letter, please contact me. The fact that you “served” and I didn’t might be what is needed to help persuade some young man (or woman) to not join the military.