MORALITY AND JUSTICE
Recently the U.S. Congress voted to repeal the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which the Clinton Administration had settled on as a compromise to allow homosexuals to serve in the military without being open about their sexual behavior or inclinations. There were many Conservatives opposed to that policy when it was first established since it opened the door to homosexuals serving in the military without being asked about their sexual orientation. The policy did allow homosexuals to serve but its’ enforcement continued to lead to the expulsion of known homosexuals, some of whom openly admitted their orientation and did so for the political motive of changing the policy. There didn’t seem to be much acknowledgement, let alone celebration, of the fact that the DA/DT gave homosexuals the opportunity to serve their country honorably as long as they were able to control their behavior and did not openly advocate their life-style. As a former Army Chaplain I have known that there were homosexuals serving in the military and I in fact was gratified that our nation and our military did allow them to serve under certain conditions, namely that it was something held as their private life or struggle but would not openly be condoned. I take the position that some folks that would be referred to as “Gay” are conflicted about their desires, that they haven’t figured themselves out yet, but that they can be effective soldiers if their behavior does not corrupt themselves or others. I remember the late Dr. Robert Rayburn, CH (COL), US ARMY speaking about this subject when I was in seminary. He encouraged us to treat people with compassion and that Chaplains had an obligation to do so. At the time I was surprised he took such a loving and humane view of it, but I have tried to follow his admonition in my service as a Chaplain. I have experienced female soldiers coming to me and telling me that they felt pressured by lesbians in the unit, and that due to the fraternization between ranks it was becoming coercive and threatening. My challenge to them of course was to make an official complaint, to use the Chain of Command, but they were fearful to do so. I did inform the Commander of this dynamic in his unit, though he didn’t seem to be too bothered by it. Here of course is where the military, and our entire society, needs to understand the impact of morality on issues of justice. Our society seems to continually be moving to the divorce of these two things from each other, that morality is a private issue and that it is unjust to prohibit or contain certain moral practices. In fact Justice is being redefined so as to permit individuals to follow their own private sense of morality and that Government should have little or nothing to do with it. In a culture that no longer has a consensus of moral absolutes it is extremely difficult for that culture (our culture here in the United States) to establish a line of morality and hold to it. Justice becomes equated with morality and Justice is defined as the right to live as I please and not have anyone hurt me or deprive me of the freedom to do and live as I please. It is my contention that Justice and Morality are inseparable but yet distinct. There is a morality inherent in the concept of Justice, there is real justice to others in living a truly moral life in society, and there is resultant injustice in a life-style of immorality. Having stated this I realize that there are many instances of “moral” people, religious people, self-righteous people in fact, who created a system of injustice and maintained it while being otherwise “honest, law abiding, decent” folks. They were in fact immoral by allowing the enslavement, disenfranchisement, and discrimination against people of color in this country. Racial attitudes of superiority were in fact issues of pride, selfishness, fear, meanness, and a despising of the image of God in fellow human beings and led to murder, man stealing, rape, exploitation,etc. The immorality displayed by otherwise so called “decent” folks gave the lie to their claim of morality. Nazis did the same thing in running concentration camps. They showed up to work on time, did an “honest” days work by not shirking their duty, didn’t steal from the prison offices, etc. all while they were murdering millions. To those people in their daily interactions there was a “semblance” of moral living which made their lives comfortable and predictable. Stealing from each other was wrong, even while washing off the blood from their boots due to what had just happened down at the slave block or the gas chamber. I believe it was the moral consensus that moved the North to fight for the abolition of slavery (and make no historical mistake in assuming that there would have been a Civil War in America without the spirit and drive of the Abolitionists). It was the moral consensus in England in the face of Ghandi’s resistance to British tyranny in India that moved them to finally give way to the cry of that nation for independence. I believe it was the moral consensus of America that gave way to the moral superiority of a non-violent demand for civil and voting rights from people of color, especially in the South. Without that moral consensus Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have gone the way of those (unknown but to God) justice advocates in the Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea and Nazi Germany. I also believe that the moral consensus that worked for the good of justice in those instances was an inherited Biblical sense of Justice, and one that particularly came from the perspective of the Protestant Reformation. We are approaching an equal hypocrisy though from a different angle. Without a Biblical consensus of morality in a culture it will become more and more difficult for that culture to actually define or defend justice while it in fact begins to deny justice to those who maintain resistance to immoral acts. In short, evil will be called good and good will be called evil. Without a commitment to true justice arising from a moral consensus then injustice can be explained away, redefined, and even defended as necessary. This has been done illogically yet nonetheless extensively by exploitative oppressive powers and governments. Our challenge is always to champion both of the things that help us to truly love our neighbors as ourselves, and that is being moral and being just. Many people in our nation who in fact live fairly moral lives have surrendered the high ground of conscience to those who play the justice card when it comes to sexual orientation. This erosion has led to a tidal wave of changing laws which leads to the silencing of those who prophetically warn of the consequences to our children, our marriages, our military, our health, our culture, and our freedoms of speech and religion. Tolerance and acceptance has in fact led to coercion, casting a blind eye to cabals and groups of homosexuals advancing each other (in government, the military, business, education, and entertainment) and getting revenge against their critics. Why should any of our children be mocked and ridiculed in a classroom if they believe that homosexuality is an immoral behavioral choice but their teacher now teaches a section of curriculum that labels our child’s belief as hate speech (declaring good evil and evil good)? Let me state plainly that I believe that homosexual behavior is immoral. That it should be proscribed behavior, especially in the military. That all homosexuals should be treated with common courtesy and respect, even sympathy, and called to repentance and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. I believe that if our nation could agree that this behavior is immoral (once again) we would have no need to advocate a change to the constitution defining marriage as possible only between a biological male and a biological female. I am afraid however that we will have to fight this descent into the legitimization of immorality by just such an amendment. My hope at the present, and my fervent plea for the military is for Commanders to be very pro-active in discipline against any form of sexual harassment, coercion, promiscuity, or political and career game playing due to sexual orientation issues. Unless our Commander and Chief and highest ranking officers make this standard policy some units are going to become nasty places of intrigue and in-fighting, and that is already bad enough in our military bureaucracy.