Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
- 1 Peter 2:13-17
President Trump recently announced that he is taking measures to reduce the high suicide rate among veterans.
It is odd that the Apostle Peter leads with all those requirements of the people that he is writing this letter to, the Jews and Gentile believers in Asia Minor. Because, the next four words are “Live as free people.” In a way, it is a shame that all Americans are not required to spend some time in military service, as many countries require, if only to understand what the Apostle Peter is saying in these few verses.
As a person in the military, you submit yourself to supreme authority. You voluntarily become a “slave” of sorts. When they say “jump” you jump (period). But then we are to act as if we are free. But not to the extent that we might act inappropriately. And why do we do it? So that others will live as free, truly free.
We are no longer truly free in the “Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.” We have silenced ourselves, allowing the secularists to take over the country – in open defiance of what our forefather stood for. Maybe we have become the foolish people in the Scripture above, in a backhanded way. We have silenced ourselves instead of others silencing us. The foolish others have said that talk of Jesus Christ and His Love offends them, so we remain silent. Our fear of offending someone prevents us from doing as God commanded us, to spread the Gospel.
May our fear of speaking up not become a loss of the freedom to say what we believe in.
And if we remain silent, the wrong people will be elected and they will think that we don’t care if they take that freedom away, since we don’t use it anyway.
But to think about veterans committing suicide, I am reminded of a lecture during my senior year of ROTC. Funny how most of my remembered lessons were from my senior year in ROTC, and not my chosen profession. The Major told us how we train young farm boys how to kill people. We train them in how to not hesitate, even though it is an unnatural thing to do for a law-abiding person.
The adrenaline rush from constantly being on edge in battle leads to PTSD. When the soldier gets home, he has no release of the pent-up energy within him. These days the soldier could be male or female, but when I was in school it was only allowed to have male soldiers in combat. Pardon my simplification of speech here.
So, here you have a person who used to be a farm boy (as the example used by the Major), but now he has been trained to kill without hesitation. As a civilian, he used to be hyped on adrenaline and now without the adrenaline flowing, something feels wrong. And as the Major taught us, the Army has never, at least by the mid-70s, never figured out how to undo the farm boy – turned – soldier, back into a farm boy.
Thus, even these days, 50 years since Vietnam was still going on and I sat in class, learning this stuff, we have an epidemic of veterans who are committing suicide. I suppose the Army has still not figured out how to reverse the careful training it took to turn a farm boy into a soldier.
I sometimes have a military reaction when I see things going horribly wrong. Pardon me if I have reacted in any way other than through God’s love, but it is hard, even for a soldier who only faced the enemy in the Cold War.
Remember, we haven’t figure out how to undo the training. But also remember, your freedom comes at a cost. Not just soldiers who die in battle, but soldiers who did not come home the same as they were when they left.
Let us pray that they find Jesus, and that Jesus heals them. What they now suffer, they do so from wounds while preserving our freedom.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.