Recently, I have been struck by some similarities between two rather different topics. In part this is because they are topics which are difficult to discuss in our society. These topics are: war and church.
It has become nearly impossible to have a rational discussion about war in our society. Any questioning of war or the reasons for a particular war and somehow we are not “supporting our troops”. So, in an effort to “support our troops” we remove any possibility of saying something which might prevent them from going to war and dying needlessly. If this is what support means, were it my life hanging in the balance I would hope for some major non-support.
I certainly do want to honor and support our soldiers. There are many reasons people join our military forces. Often it may seem like the only option or a really good financial option. Sometimes they join out of a sense of family tradition and the like. But beneath all these reasons, in my experience, most often there also is a sense of duty and service to our country. These are honorable motives. It seems to me robust, honest and thorough discussion of the work these honorable folks do would be one of the best ways to honor their service. It is not supporting our trips to allow our government to squander such noble sacrifice.
Likewise with church, the people who attend church most often do so for honorable reasons. They want to do what is right. They want to give their thanks to God. They want to learn more about God and find ways to love their neighbors. However, if we push away those who criticize the church then we risk squandering all these honorable motives by allowing the church to march on to its death. Too often we reject the criticisms of those outside the church or those who have left by implying they aren’t trying hard enough, don’t have their priorities straight, are just complaining or are ignoring all the good the church does.
So, we support our troops by sending them to die needlessly and we support our church by quietly watching its irrelevance grow until it has reached terminal levels.
Personally, I would prefer to hold off on hospice care until death is actually unavoidable.
So, is war always inevitable? Is the church beyond all hope? If not, then perhaps it is time for some honest talk and some open listening.