Military service as a training center for godliness

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by Minh, Nov 7, 2019.

  1. Minh

    Minh Puritan Board Freshman

    Is the military service a training for godliness, from your perspectives as participants in the army? No doubt, in Canada, members of the Canadian Armed Force are often held by the public in high esteem. They are well fit and competent in their tasks; there is no needless concern for them in finding employment after their service. And those remain in service can earn a stable income for their family and vacation expenses. After all, every man would expect "Oh! I'm so proud of my husband!"

    But from a biblical perspective, does an experience in the military mold you into a godly person? Perhaps rigorous disciplines and physical exertion might help, but I wish to hear from PBers who are former or current army members. I also love to hear those who are in the US army as well!

  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I learned many cuss words and ribald chants. In the US army you can learn discipline, etc, or you can become a chronic alcoholic and get divorced after multiple deployments. There is as much bad as there is good.

    And the Indonesian army where I serve is like the mafia and has side-jobs like illegal logging and mining. In Africa, of course, you can be a child soldier and rape whole villages.

    It all depends which army in which era of history.
  3. therussellhome

    therussellhome Puritan Board Freshman

    I am in the US Army Reserves and I have learned a lot of discipline which I have been able to apply to my spiritual journey.

    As @Pergamum was getting at, the stress of military life can either be used by God to draw a soldier to Him or into alcoholism.
  4. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    I have a brother in the Canadian army. From what I've heard it's not a particularly godly environment. My brother told me he was going very far from God until he was brought to church again. I don't know the details, although I get the impression there was a lot of drinking. I know that Christian morals (escpecially having to do with sex) may be thought but not spoken.

    My brother-in-law's in the US Army. At one base in the US the environment was oppressively godless. Sexually promiscuous men and women, homosexuals and transgenders are everywhere in uniform. My brother-in-law has to watch what he says all the time, lest he be guilty of an "EO" violation. Also, the suicide rate at some military bases is disturbing.

    Discipline is good. I have no doubt the military can teach a good deal of that. But in the modern day the "progressives" dictate a lot of what goes on in military institutions. The military can be a dangerous place for a Christian.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
  5. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    My son is now week 4 of Marines bootcamp, and it has drawn him back to the Lord!
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  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Bootcamp is usually a total breakdown of individuality. In that you have to find a foundation to survive. The military does not give you God as a foundation. It gives a person their code of conduct. I did discover who God was by my experience but it wasn't because of the military. It was good for me because it sobered me up from drugs, alcohol, and criminal activities. I was able to think more clearly. I did learn discipline. That is a major plus. But I wouldn't say that the military is a place to learn godliness, per se. In fact it actually will be against it. I had a lot of opposition to my faith by others in the military. It was a good proving ground for me. The Scriptures and having been born again is what made me know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  7. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I have no doubt that God does use the military to benefit a Christian with the discipline that it instills. Some of the best Christian men I have run across have served, especially those who served in WWII.
  8. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    There are no athiests in fox holes is the line.
  9. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    Simply put, no it does not. The prevailing culture within the armed forces is godless and debauched. Can God use such experiences for the testing and sanctification of his servants in such an environment? Of course. He did in my case. But credit must be given to the overruling grace of God, not the military itself.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    An example of answered prayer!
  11. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    That is a broad brush. I know many in the military may be a tad rough rough around the edges, but I rather have a Sargent Carter than a Sargent Nancy in my military. :)
  12. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Many high ranking officers in military have been Christian's.
  13. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    "Discipline" is a neutral concept. There isn't anything especially godly about this trait, any more than courage or tenderness. Of far greater interest is the direction the trait is exercised. Tenderness toward an object that should not receive it is no blessing. Courage to go through with a wicked deed is no virtue. Discipline that successfully conceals evidence of a crime is fiendishly clever.

    Military training (especially the modern variety) does a reasonably effective job at taking recruits and then the soldiers in their units, to drill them in basic tasks demanded, and of building those tasks into various training scenarios that layer their acquired skills. Pressure is put on using various mechanisms in order to simulate the stress of combat conditions. The goal is habit formation.

    Drill, repetition, shuffling, reward for accomplishment, punishment for failure--these are tools available to any individual, family, or organization at some level. The military adds restriction of movement--confinement--a contractual commitment (enlistment) that is enforceable by various penalties, including incarceration or even death (for desertion under specified conditions).

    Besides noting the purely natural character of this method of discipline, consider also that other natural concepts are regularly included in the mix. One may be confined to the barracks, or to the base; but diversions are supplied by the command in place in order to pacify the inmates. Promises of release/leave are made indicating a limit on restrictions; promotions mean more liberties; salaries are paid indicating that the sacrifices and efforts made have a tangible monetary reward; shops and clubs for spending money and acquiring loot and drinking are made available on post.

    This is all a covenant of works. Is it possible for the rules and discipline of the military to illustrate to a Christian young person that the rules/discipline of his upbringing, or moral law reminded to him in the church, have benefited him even without his full appreciation? A disciplined youth (even a difficult one) may find that the imposed order of certain aspects of military life comport with his preparation in life. He may thrive during his time in the military. And this is all beside the question of whether the military or its duties (some of them at least) is conducive to a Christian life and witness.

    But law has power only where it has reach, and is enforced. The military wants its personnel available on call, and undistracted in the performance of duty, the demands of the service. The proliferation of brothels and other seedy establishments around military bases bears unfailing witness to how men (and of course, women also in the coed military) behave outside the parameters of the covenant of works that exists strictly internal to the institution.

    In other words, the discipline of the military has no necessary connection to the undisciplined life of the same persons outside its bounds. Can someone apply the discipline that was instilled in some fashion in his being or character, by and for the military service, outside that service in other areas of life? Sure, and some people will seemingly do so across the board (don't have to be Christian to do it), and many people will do it selectively; while many others will make much of the relative freedom they prefer outside the confinement of military service.

    The law always increases the trespass. That is its nature, when sinners run up against it. Get out from under any law's external restraint, and if it is not a law transferred within the heart, native rebellion will assert itself. And where rebellion does not show itself, pride takes over. Being "proud" of one's military service is practically a cliche. A host of those who have worn the uniform are quite pleased with notice given them, congratulating them on how well they kept the rules.

    Can military service drill a degree of habit into someone's bones? Yes, but not godly discipline into his heart.
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  14. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I disagree with your assumption as a Veteran. It is a regulation of stipulations with liberty. The Church itself has the same. Actions are weighed and discerned. If I am an adulterer I am brought under the discipline of the Church. That isn't a Covenant of Works. If a Sailor violates Navy regulation he is disciplined and hopefully restored to what is acceptable behavior. There is a lot that you are not understanding. I am only trying to help you see this.
  15. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Does not God uses ordinary means to sanctify His children?

    “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
    6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
  16. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    I was in it and experienced it first-hand. But it's a generalization that of course has it's exceptions.

    But I have no idea what you are saying with regards to the two "Sargents." I assume you are saying you think the men of our military should be hardy and tough. I would of course agree with that. But that has nothing to do with weather those same people are morally upright or godless and debauched. I would desire the men of our armed forces to be both tough, and morally upright.
  17. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Many of them are.
  18. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I'll defer to your experience on the "prevailing culture within the armed forces is godless and debauched". It simply not my experience, which is no doubt much less than yours. :) So far as Carter and Nancy you are correct in your assumptions.
  19. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    That is certainly true. Unfortunately, a much greater majority of them are not.
  20. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    This is not my experience. I have never heard any civilian congratulate a Veteran for how well they kept the rules. I have never heard a Veteran congratulate a Veteran for such either. I have heard both Vets and Civilians be grateful for the hard work Service Members (Police and Firemen also) did in training and defending our homeland from foreign and domestic enemies who oppose our Liberty.

    This is an all Volunteer Service enlistment now. It has been for almost 50 years now. The training in most cases is overly intense, dangerous, self sacrificing, and necessary so that a member of any Service can function to the best of their ability so that they can keep others and themselves safe as possible. It pushes them to limits that are mind boggling. There is no way I could have been a Marine. I do not have the body nor the mind to perform in that capacity. Those who try to join and fail in some capacity during training are disqualified. It is so hard.

    I have influenced a couple of young men who grew up coming to my house who went into the Military. One became a Marine and another went into the National Guard. They didn't do it to go to College either. They wanted to serve their Country and promote Liberty. I am grateful and proud of those young men. They are good kids.

    I am a person who is grateful to anyone who will put themselves in harms way for the benefit of others.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  21. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    My son wants to be a Marine lifer, but now understands still must go with Jesus.
  22. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Military discipline may be useful for some, indeed, for many people. It has helped to keep many people from "rough" backgrounds away from criminality and given them many skills that they would otherwise not have acquired. At the end of the day, however, the military is not for everyone. I was in the Army Cadets as a teenager, which was useful for various things ... especially for teaching me that the military was not my calling.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  23. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I remember writing home to my parents that the Army let me shoot stuff and camp out and hike through the woods and EVEN PAID ME FOR IT! I loved the initial training period. Later the garrison stuff and cleaning was tedious. I read my pocket bible at every break.

    But on leave or weekend pass there was often an expectation to get as wild as possible to blow off steam. I just ended up going to the library and the gym like a big nerd. Less venereal disease at the library, though.
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  24. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I loved my green little Gideons KJV. I wore a few of those out. We did have some great Chaplains at every assignment I was sent to. I was more than blessed.
  25. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    For awhile Penguin Books issued little pocket editions of classics, and I had Robinson Crusoe, Augustine's Confessions, and the Imitation of Christ. I took the last 2 to training and read them all multiple times on breaks, too.
  26. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Please have patience while I share an anecdote.

    I came to faith in Christ in April of 1979, one month before my 18th Birthday. I graduated high school in June and enlisted in the United States Air Force in August of that same year. Being a new Christian, I was convicted of my previous worldly behavior; especially my ungodly speech. As you can imagine, being thrown into the profanity-laden pressure cooker of basic training was difficult for a young Christian. About a third of the way through basic training I decided to ask my T.I. for permission to visit with the chaplain. I knocked on the door of his office, walked to his desk, and said, "Sir! Airman basic Brown reporting!" He said, "What do you want, airman?" The T.I. was sitting at his desk reading. He was reading his bible. I was dumbfounded. I made my request to see the chaplain and he asked me why. I told him that I was a Christian and thought that talking to a chaplain would help me. For the sake of brevity, I am skipping much of the conversation I had with my T.I. The most important part was when he asked if he could pray for me. I answered in the affirmative. He then proceeded to pray that the Lord would strengthen me during my remaining time in basic training. He then asked if I still wanted to meet with the chaplain and I said, "No, sir!" That one moment was a display of God's faithfulness to me.

    In answer to the OP, the military is no better or worse than anything else in life. Godliness is the result of becoming progressively more like Christ, through obedience to the Word and the mortification of sin in our life (1 Tim. 4:8; 2 Tim. 3:16; Eph. 4:17-24). Others in this thread have listed the benefits and challenges of military life. I will not add to their list except to say that some personality types may be better at adapting to life in the military. It helps to know what military life is like before enlisting or accepting a commission.
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  27. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Brought a tear to my eye, praise God for his beautiful power and faithfulness.
  28. CovenantWord

    CovenantWord Puritan Board Freshman

    Early in my committed Christian walk, at the tail end of the Viet Nam "police action," I was drafted into the U.S. Army. I served three years, mostly in a civilianesque medical facility. I found that military service resembles any long-term, medium-stress course of events: It does not create character, but reveals and develops it, for good or ill. To borrow a fine Puritan word: Military service discovers character.
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  29. Saxon

    Saxon Puritan Board Freshman

    Several of my family members served in the Navy and Air Force. While serving may have enhanced their godliness, I don't think the military can create faith from nothing.
  30. TheBruisedReed

    TheBruisedReed Puritan Board Freshman

    I currently serve on active duty in the US Marines. The military will mold you into the type of person the armed forces requires. This is not to say that you cannot grow exponentially from your time in the service (I have!); but, I would caution against counting on "Uncle Sam" to mold you into a godly person.
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