Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
With the incredible cultural shifts marked by the moral dominos falling, and with increasing speed, one of the first to feel these effects will be our Evangelical (including but not limited to the EFCA) military chaplains.
Roy Bebee, our EFCA Chaplains Endorsing Agent, recently responded to the question regarding “the effects of military chaplaincy should DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act] be overturned by the courts.”
Roy explains why our Evangelical chaplains will be the first to feel the impact of these changes.
Because the military does not create its own religious ministries, the Armed Services depend on religious leadership from the churches and religious bodies of America. Chaplains are endorsed to serve through cooperative channels between the religious body, the Department of Defense's Armed Forces Chaplains Board, and the respective service branch. Should the government normalize homosexual marriage, chaplains would be confronted with a difficult moral choice of choosing to serve their God or serve Caesar. Because of the high percentage of theologically conservative and biblically oriented chaplains within each military branch, the conflict will be real and a cause for great concern.
According to Roy, there are four key ways chaplains will be “adversely affected should DOMA be struck down.”
- Chaplains will be constrained in sharing their religious beliefs on marriage.
- Chaplains could face adverse discipline or have shortened careers if they remain true to their faith group's teachings or personal convictions.
- Chaplains will face challenges related to heterosexual marriage counseling.
- Chaplains will face challenges related to their refusal to endorse homosexual relationships.
In conclusion, Roy, rightly, places his absolute trust in our sovereign God, but he also acknowledges that there will be a cost to being faithful.
We know that God is sovereign and that his work will not be thwarted, but the chaplain's labor is going to be more challenging and precarious. The same will be true for all faithful believers in military leadership. . . . chaplains will be the first to decide whether their longtime Chaplains Corps motto of "cooperation without compromise" can stand the test of the impending court action.
Remember to pray for our EFCA (and Evangelical) chaplains!