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    Gay Pride Month 2014 - Army

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    rossmcclure4

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    Gay Pride Month 2014 - Army

    Post  rossmcclure4 on May 28th 2014, 1:36 am

    All,

    I've been faced with a very difficult situation and I'm not sure what to do. I'm an executive officer for an army aviation unit in Egypt. As you probably know, DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) was overturned a couple of years ago for the US Armed forces. I was actually a pretty big fan of that decision, because in the past you could receive a separation chapter if enough evidence could be presented that you were homosexual. Now people can do whatever they want, and under Army Command policy no one can flaunt or distract others from work whether it be matters of religion or sexuality be it homosexuality or otherwise. It seems fair and common sense.

    Last year President Obama and Secretary Hagel approved the celebration of Gay Pride month by the US Military...but no one really participated. For a better showing, this year they have made it an official EO (Equal Opportunity) annual observance which is mandatory. When I first received the order to plan and prepare for the event, I was still not concerned and even amused and interested. I support Soldiers having different opinions and viewpoints celebrating and participating in things that perhaps I don't agree with, and even was happy to facilitate the event.

    I immediately saw that this could be a sensitive issue. As a unit leader my concern was to respect the beliefs of all my Soldiers, including those I disagreed with. Initially I created a plan for my commander which would make the event very neutral and informative, and was really no observance or celebration. Each month we "celebrate" or "observe" something under EO, last month it was Pacific Islander heritage and the month before Woman's day.

    My Soldiers developed what I feel, was a far better plan. Soldiers who were gay valiantly stepped forward to support and be involved and other Soldiers who didn't mind supporting the event were happy to participate. The event would be a true celebration for those who wanted to and all Soldiers who held strong moral convictions against homosexuality would not have to attend. It seemed very appropriate and would work for everyone.

    Our commanders rejected the decision. I see now that separate, parallel views of homosexuality are not in line with National or Department of Defense policy. I can provide policy information in a separate post. Under the EO observance all Soldiers are expected to participate and fully support the event. Immediately Soldiers brought their concerns to me. My knee-jerk decision (one had to be made) was that I would cover for my Soldiers who would not have to attend, but I would...effectively kicking the can down the road. In other words, that won't work next year.

    Although I had agreed to do this the decision still nags at me. In all honesty, this is one of a few beliefs that I hadn't thoroughly explored. So many people I know, where I am from, can be "opposed" to homosexuality or LGBT community and culture because it is convenient for them and the cool thing to do. It is a very cheaply earned belief. Because I can't say I've done any better, despite my involvement in the LGBT community in the past I simply put it in the realm of the unknown and far less important. But now I have to make a decision. As my wife said, no decision is still a decision. I just want to know what the right thing to do is.

    This isn't something light, military policy and the uniform code of military justice strictly requires Soldiers to promptly and thoroughly obey the orders they are given. This is a legal order because the laws are in place, whether I agree or not, I can go to jail if I disobey. But is it a moral order? I don't want to rabble rouse or be vindictive or act on my feelings. If I do have to disobey it will be in the most professional way that I can, finding the best way I can love and support my commander and leadership no matter how I feel about their decisions, hopefully just a discrete non-showing while ensuring my Soldiers this year don't have to attend despite the policy.

    Already one of our Soldiers has had his career threatened. All of these events involve a benediction. When they asked the Chaplain to give a benediction he courteously informed the commander that he could not, nor could he attend or support the event at all. As all professional officers do he showed that he was bound to an endorsing religious agency which could not endorse homosexuality and gave the commander some alternatives, he didn't just refuse (that's not professional). Now he is being threatened with a discharge.

    I don't want to turn this into an internet rage-fest so I knew that the CGC community is ideally suited to analyze this difficult issue and present what is probably the most thoughtful and biblical solution. You guys are my A-team for advice. Any thoughts are welcome, you may reach me at rossmcclure4@gmail.com if you want to send a private message.

    Thank you!

    ComiKate

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    Re: Gay Pride Month 2014 - Army

    Post  ComiKate on May 28th 2014, 7:29 am

    Ok, typing this for the second time now, everything I had typed before had been "mysteriously" deleted by some IE "hickup"...

    That is a very difficult dilemma that you're finding yourself in, and I want to compliment you for the thoughtful and considerate way you're handling this and thinking about this, searching to do the right thing and wanting to serve our Lord.

    In my own personal experience with these kinds of dilemmas, what it comes down to is your own conscience:  will you make a decision that you can not only live with, but can also look God in the eye with a clear conscience? In order to find out what that decision would be, take the time you need. Wrestle with the Lord as it were.
    And even if you’ll make a choice that you’re not happy with, or would have liked to have done differently after all, God will always help you with the consequences of whatever choice you’ve made. Through this whole situation He will teach you whatever it is you may need to learn in His own so very Fatherly way.

    I won’t presume to tell you what to do in this specific situation, for the right choice may vary per person. So many factors are in play here: not just the finer details of the situation, with all the people (including fellow christians) and laws involved, but also your own character, your talents, your maturity in Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that God has given (or may still add to) you.
    Perhaps you’re to take a stand, perhaps your role is that of peacemaker, perhaps you’re to openly support your chaplain, perhaps you’re to immediately start a prayer group with your fellow Christian soldiers to deal with this topic and this specific predicament that you’re all finding yourselves in. Perhaps you’re to keep talking to your commanding officer about this, like Joseph to Farao, for God may change his heart. Perhaps all of the above. Perhaps none. Who knows – only God does!

    I do know this: He and He alone is your High Commander, for He is Adonai Tzevaoth, the Lord of Hosts. He will command you, but He will also protect you and back you up. He will provide you with all the armor you need, customized for this specific battle.
    Plus, like you, He is a warrior, so like no other He understands what this means to you.
    (The LORD is a warrior, the LORD is His name – Ex. 15:3)

    And one more thing:
    Baruch haba b’shem Adonai – Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord (which would be you Wink )

    tmorrill

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    Re: Gay Pride Month 2014 - Army

    Post  tmorrill on May 28th 2014, 10:27 am

    First off, I'll keep you in my prayers since this is a tough situation to be in, and I'm thankful I never had to deal with this kind of thing when I was on active duty. Let me dust off (and pull out of the bottom of a duffel in a storage unit, probably having something heavy fall on me) my NCO hat and do some pondering.


    I wouldn't view what you did as kicking the can down the road, you addressed the immediate situation by taking care of all your Soldiers while giving you and them time to plan for next year when things might be different.

    I do have a few questions though, and you're more than welcome to PM or email answers to me at travis.morrill@gmail.com if you don't want stuff getting thrown around in public.

    What level commander(s) shot down your Soldier's alternate plan, and what level are you an XO at?
    Also, he's really threatening the career of a Chaplain over this? Wow, I don't doubt you I'm just shocked.
    Would the event in question just be an Equal Opportunity brief or is there something more?
    Would the commander(s) who insisted on the mandatory event still be in charge of the same unit(s) this time next year?



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    Re: Gay Pride Month 2014 - Army

    Post  Paeter on May 28th 2014, 5:28 pm

    Wow, Ross. I'll echo ComiKate's every word. I think the Holy Spirit is likely in all that she wrote. I'd also point you to tmorrill, who is asking the kind of questions I would ask if I knew anything about the military.

    I think the key might be in some of the details of what exactly it is you are doing by obeying the orders you're being given.

    I'm also curious about the event. Is it a celebration and validation of a gay person's rights to be openly gay and share equal freedoms with others? Or is it a celebration of homosexuality itself? The former I could possibly work my mind into being okay with, since a homosexual's right to live the way they wish is honored even by God himself. The results are tragic in the case of homosexuality, but our amazing God values our freedom. And even freely chosen evil will result in the greatest and most wonderful outcome possible. (Romans 8:28, Genesis 50:20) And that is something I can celebrate.

    Then again, it's not always a good idea to engage in ALL the things we are free to engage in, since doing so might give a false impression that leads someone away from the truth. (See 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 and Romans 14)

    I think the best thing I can do is recommend a few places I might go if I were wrestling with something similar:

    Romans 13:1-7 (Regarding submitting to authorities)
    Acts 5:28-29, and context (Regarding when NOT to obey authority)
    1 Corinthians 8:1-13 and Romans 14 (In which you might exchange "food"/"eat"/etc. for whatever it is you are being ordered to do.)

    It's worth noting that the 1 Corinthians and Romans 14 passages only apply if you are confident that following orders in this instance will not, in and of itself, be disobedient to God. So I'd advise putting plenty of time into sorting through that in your mind and conscience.

    Romans 14:14-23 deals with this sin of conscience, the idea being that if we suspect something is a sin and do it anyway (even if it is not truly a sin), we are sinning, because we are demonstrating a willingness to disobey God.

    Having said all of this, I don't think I can emphasize enough the grace, mercy and love of God in all of this. If you make a choice that you later regret, know that his love and patience is tireless and unrelenting. There is NO condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We've been washed and transformed, whether we can sense that transformation or not. We are not defined or identified by our mistakes or failures. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20)

    So know with confidence that regardless of your choice and the circumstances that follow, Yahweh's grace(undeserved favor) is more persistent than the Terminator as well as completely unstoppable.

    (Daniel 10:19a) "O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage."


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    rossmcclure4

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    Re: Gay Pride Month 2014 - Army

    Post  rossmcclure4 on November 13th 2014, 7:37 am

    Travis, Kate and Paeter,

    Thank you all so much for your encouragement and guidance, it was very helpful.

    The situation is well over so I wanted to provide my AAR (After Action Review).

    The Commander's decisions did negatively affect the Soldiers of the Command, many of the Soldiers felt they had to choose between their religious convictions and their orders. Nothing else serious came of the matter however. No one was punished.

    I had a meeting that coincided with the event anyways, and so I didn't go. The Task Force Executive Officer did ask me why I didn't go, I truthfully told him I had to be at the meeting. There was no further questioning.

    Nothing bad happened to the Chaplain, the Theatre Command level Chaplain actually defended the Chaplain and informed his Commander he couldn't force him to pray at an event that violated his religious beliefs.

    The situation has been helpful, although I'm sad that people were made uncomfortable and in some cases made to suffer, I believe it was helpful in teaching all of us, most of all I certainly learned that many of my own beliefs have been flimsy. I'm hopeful that I can learn from the event and respond with two things in the future.

    1. Deep love, patience, kindndess and care and a strong desire to support and obey my leaders.
    2. Strong decisions rooted in actual truth, provided from the source.

    Thank you all for the support

    tmorrill

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    Re: Gay Pride Month 2014 - Army

    Post  tmorrill on November 13th 2014, 5:50 pm

    rossmcclure4 wrote:Travis, Kate and Paeter,

    Thank you all so much for your encouragement and guidance, it was very helpful.

    The situation is well over so I wanted to provide my AAR (After Action Review).

    The Commander's decisions did negatively affect the Soldiers of the Command, many of the Soldiers felt they had to choose between their religious convictions and their orders.  Nothing else serious came of the matter however.  No one was punished.

    I had a meeting that coincided with the event anyways, and so I didn't go. The Task Force Executive Officer did ask me why I didn't go, I truthfully told him I had to be at the meeting.  There was no further questioning.

    Nothing bad happened to the Chaplain, the Theatre Command level Chaplain actually defended the Chaplain and informed his Commander he couldn't force him to pray at an event that violated his religious beliefs.

    The situation has been helpful, although I'm sad that people were made uncomfortable and in some cases made to suffer, I believe it was helpful in teaching all of us, most of all I certainly learned that many of my own beliefs have been flimsy.  I'm hopeful that I can learn from the event and respond with two things in the future.

    1.  Deep love, patience, kindndess and care and a strong desire to support and obey my leaders.
    2.  Strong decisions rooted in actual truth, provided from the source.

    Thank you all for the support

    Thanks for the update dude! Glad to hear that the Chaplin (and your Soldiers) didn't get his career ruined over this. All in all, it's a rough situation all around, but it sounds like you handled it to the best of your ability.

    Although, it makes me wonder if I'm crazy for thinking about commissioning after college.

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    Re: Gay Pride Month 2014 - Army

    Post  Paeter on November 13th 2014, 6:11 pm

    rossmcclure4 wrote:

    I had a meeting that coincided with the event anyways, and so I didn't go. The Task Force Executive Officer did ask me why I didn't go, I truthfully told him I had to be at the meeting.  There was no further questioning.


    Wow! Spotlight on Yahweh for providing that meeting and so many other evidences of his undeserved favor in that whole mess. I hope you're encouraged by how God moved in all of that. He is with you, Ross!


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    rossmcclure4

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    Re: Gay Pride Month 2014 - Army

    Post  rossmcclure4 on November 14th 2014, 4:00 am

    tmorrill wrote:Although, it makes me wonder if I'm crazy for thinking about commissioning after college.

    I encourage you to do it!! There are two elements of an Officer: Mission first, people always. Any schmuck can have a try at the mission, but it takes someone like you to actually care about people. We would be a lot better off with more Officers like that. It takes sacrifice, but one made for others that you won't regret. Even better, you'll bring truth to situations like this one, you may be better prepared than I was, and people need that.

    Paeter wrote:Wow! Spotlight on Yahweh for providing that meeting and so many other evidences of his undeserved favor in that whole mess. I hope you're encouraged by how God moved in all of that. He is with you, Ross!

    I agree, I am comforted by that fact. But what I am especially grateful for is, as you said:

    Paeter wrote:So know with confidence that regardless of your choice and the circumstances that follow, Yahweh's grace(undeserved favor) is more persistent than the Terminator as well as completely unstoppable.

    I didn't handle the situation perfectly, maybe not even well. The greatest regret isn't any mistake I can ever make, but when I hurt someone else. I really do believe that when Jesus said that things that make us sin WILL come, but woe through whom they come, that is a tangible reality. The suffering is worse for the ones that make people suffer.

    So there's no words I can type here to say how restful it is to know that His Love is evident despite my willful failure, despite an arsenal to try to stop His love, he can't be stopped. He can, despite the fact that FEAR really disturbed me in that situation (and not fear of God), remove those old motivators and give me a power to love Him and other people, to be a different creature. Today I will try to remember how he delivered me just in that simple meeting, and I'll try to consider it thoroughly.

    ComiKate

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    Re: Gay Pride Month 2014 - Army

    Post  ComiKate on November 14th 2014, 2:58 pm

    rossmcclure4 wrote:I didn't handle the situation perfectly, maybe not even well.  The greatest regret isn't any mistake I can ever make, but when I hurt someone else.  I really do believe that when Jesus said that things that make us sin WILL come, but woe through whom they come, that is a tangible reality. The suffering is worse for the ones that make people suffer.  

    So there's no words I can type here to say how restful it is to know that His Love is evident despite my willful failure, despite an arsenal to try to stop His love, he can't be stopped.  He can, despite the fact that FEAR really disturbed me in that situation (and not fear of God), remove those old motivators and give me a power to love Him and other people, to be a different creature.  Today I will try to remember how he delivered me just in that simple meeting, and I'll try to consider it thoroughly.

    Thank you for your update and your above reflection. Very encouraging to see the Lord move through your story. Very relatable to see how He delivers us from evil, including the consequences of our own fallibilty and sinful nature. It's like I'm reading a page of my own book and I think I know what you mean by the rest you're describing. Experiencing His grace like that is like a crushing weight having just been lifted from your soul.

    Praised be the Lord.

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    Re: Gay Pride Month 2014 - Army

    Post  Paeter on November 14th 2014, 5:24 pm

    Can I just say how much I love this community? I know I'm hugely biased and uninformed, but what all you guys are doing here and the way you're doing it strikes me as precious and way too unique in the world of Christian geeks. I'm so grateful to be here interacting with all of you.


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