Don’t Ask

I praise the Lord for the Gospel-defending and God-honoring work the 2010 Synod of the URCNA did last week.

But there was one interesting recommendation that passed late on the last day. The recommendation came in the report from the Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel Committee. Here’s the “interesting” one:

“That Synod 2010, in response to the request of the PRJC, instruct the Stated Clerk to petition the United States Armed Forces officials on behalf of the URCNA, urging them to maintain the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.”

HERE (pdf) is the sample letter that is expected to be sent to Armed Forces officials.

This rings loud with kingdom confusion. But as noted in THIS POST there was at least one 2K-er who spoke in its defense, citing that the issue is the safety of our chaplains.

This still doesn’t sit right with me, regardless of the motivation. The Church taking an official stance and making an official statement on a state law is misguided enough. The Church lobbying the state to set policy according to our beliefs definitely goes too far.

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I am not my own
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8 Responses to Don’t Ask

  1. Wout says:

    Obviously, URC appears to forget that it is a denomination with churches in the US and Canada. Why on earth are they dealing with a secular issue that affects only one of the countries it operates in. One can be quite open about one’s orientation in the Canadian Armed Forces. Does URC want to change the Canadian government’s policy to reflect American thinking? This is definitely a case of confusing the 2Ks.

  2. Todd says:

    Wout,

    I never understood why becoming a Christian all of a sudden makes one an expert on military policy. Next thing you know Christians will believe, because they are Christians; that they are experts in medicine and education…oh wait…

  3. Zrim says:

    The PCA GA took this up as well.

    There does seem to be a rather obvious 2K-SOTC principle at stake, i.e. the church telling the state how to mandate civil policy.

    But there’s another, perhaps less obvious one I also find interesting. The rationale is to protect the livelihood of military chaplains (and, tangentially, this raises questions about the very concept of military chaplaincy as well). And, while I cannot myself connect all the dots, the argument seems to be this: to repeal DADT will open up chaplains to paying a personal cost for teaching the whole counsel of God, so keep them safe from this cost by letting DADT stand. Does anyone else find this odd? The premise almost seems to be that where we can make gospel witness comfortable, we should. I’m not in favor of making gospel witness any harder than it has to be nor in putting anyone’s livelihood in jeopardy, but isn’t there something curious about appealing to personal non-cost?

  4. Wes White says:

    What should you do if the State asks your view on a particular matter? I believe that actually happened in this case. Our Constitution (PCA) has a provision in this case. It puts pretty strict limits on what we will say to the state. One of those provisions, I believe, is that we will give advice when the state asks us about a particular matter.

  5. Zrim says:

    Wes, that’s my understanding as well, that the churches were asked. But I’ve always wondered how a provision like that passes the test of the spirituality of the church, whatever strictures notwithstanding. I mean, if the church doesn’t seek out the state’s advice on ecclesiastical matters then why is there space carved out for the possibility of the reverse? Isn’t there such a thing as a bad question (or at least bad premises underlying certain questions)?

  6. Rick says:

    D.G. Hart on this issue HERE

  7. RubeRad says:

    Even beyond constitution, there’s confession: WCF 31.4:

    4: Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.

    Does that “unless” apply only to “intermeddle”, or does it reach all the way back to “ecclesiastical”?

    Does URC want to change the Canadian government’s policy to reflect American thinking?

    Now that’s a good question!

  8. “That Synod 2010, in response to the request of the PRJC, instruct the Stated Clerk to petition the United States Armed Forces officials on behalf of the URCNA, urging them to maintain the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.” That statement really caught my attention! Wow.

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