Pastor's Corner

25 Jan
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Mid-Week Challenge

I’m not sure how to respond to the news about the Army allowing servicemen and women at the brigade level to be granted religious accommodations to wear turbans, beards, and hijabs in accordance with their faith. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/new-us-army-regulations-will-allow-turbans-hijabs-and-beards_us_586e8f3ae4b099cdb0fc038b?section=us_religion  I have never served in the military so I proceed with my opinion with caution and respect.  I have always understood the “generic” look of a solider to be a sign of unified appearance and one of safety and practicality for peace and wartime efforts.  Beards are not worn due to equipping a gasmask, long hair not worn due to it getting in the way in combat and the attraction of pests in the field.  Again, I have not served, nor read any manuals but these reasons would lend one to common sense.  

My observation and concern is closer to personal struggles with local educational issues.  In our local public schools our teachers, coaches and staff have been told that they cannot express any kind of religious affiliation when leading students.  That includes praying, participating or practicing religion with in the view of students.  Supporters of these rules cite separation of church and state argue that those in leadership might influence a student or player under their care if they view an adult leader in the practice of or perceived practice of personal faith.  So my question is how is the Army’s decision any different?  How is allowing an individual permission to bypass regulations due to religious preferences in the presence of a subordinate not a violation of church and state laws?  If I perceive that a captain who wears a turban gives preferential treatment to other soldiers who wear turbans, isn’t that a violation of church and state even if it is not true of the captain? 

There are reasons for uniformity and places for individual expression.  I do not believe the military should give special exceptions for those who seek to be individuals in personal appearance. But if this new rule is now the norm why can’t we allow our coaches and teachers to express their personal beliefs when doing their public service? 

Double mindedness opens the door to all kinds of problems down the road. The Bible talks about this in the book of James.  When seeking wisdom James tells us that we should ask the Lord in confidence, knowing He will deliver. If one doubts the Lord’s ability or the validity of his request before an all knowing God he then he will be like a wave tossed about by the wind.  In other words he is saying you cannot have it both ways.  Jesus talks about serving two masters and being divided.  (Matthew 6:24) 

Divisions cause disharmony and if we keep celebrating and accommodating our differences we will never be able to move forward together.  I understand uniqueness and the importance, but there are somethings we must address with common sense and mindfulness of the outcomes of knee jerk reactions.  

He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  – James 1:8

Serving the Savior

Bro. Jonathan

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