Should Christians give thanks for Memorial Day? Originally published for the Libertarian Christian Institute9 min read
You’ve seen the post; the one that informs you of the differences between Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and Armed Services Day. You’ve also seen reminders that these aren’t three-day weekends for BBQ and beer, so remember that your rights are bought and paid for by the blood of dead soldiers.
Kevin DeYoung recently wrote a blog post at The Gospel Coalition titled, Why Christians Should Give Thanks for Memorial Day. As a Christian libertarian veteran, this post made me ill. There are so many things wrong with it.
This is not the first time DeYoung has mythologized the military, but in his most recent article he gives Christians five reasons to be thankful for war, even despite his initial caution of the confusion of the Kingdom of God with civil religion. He glorifies military service as a vocation, “when executed with integrity and in the Spirit of God.” But how much integrity can one have when being involved in war crimes, coverups, propaganda, all of which wreaks havoc for families at home? Lip service is paid to disobeying illegal orders, and when someone finally does they’re persecuted for “putting the lives of our military at risk.”
DeYoung also defends the military life as showing the highest Christian virtue, but aside from war crimes overseas, I wonder what he thinks about the rampant domestic abuse and sexual violence taking place here at home. Only last year did the US Military finally make domestic violence a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
How might Christian libertarians respond?
The US Army posted a positive tweet asking for responses about how military service has impacted our lives. The replies were astounding. I didn’t see a single positive response. All the responses where how the military destroyed our lives or the lives of those we love. The Army’s response was to say sorry and “here’s the suicide hotline.”
While I’m a non-combat veteran, one of my brothers and my father served in combat and have PTSD and other injuries. Balancing my anti-war stance with how they need to cope and heal is a perpetual tightrope act. I love them dearly but I hate war and I find the actions of US foreign policy and the military that carries out those orders to be deplorable. I find it reprehensible that this violent militarism is justified with the constant reminder it “put food on my table and kept a roof over my head.” (Nevermind the usual “soldiers fought for your freedom” nonsense).
The Christian response:
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