In the Canadian Forces we have officially welcomed active homosexuals to serve in the ranks for years now, as a reflection of Canada’s laws prohibiting discrimination for race, sexual orientation, or gender.

In the US military however there have been longstanding fears that allowing gays and lesbians to serve would impair the effectiveness of combat units. Today the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration was in talks with congress to repeal the Clinton-era “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy, which in effect allowed gays and lesbians to serve if they did not draw any attention to their orientation, and were in effect sexually invisible. The proposed compromise with Congress is that the policy would not be changed until the Pentagon releases a study on the subject, due 1 December.

In related news, Thomas Rick’s Best Defence Blog offers this moving reflection from a US Army officer on the human cost of serving under DADT Worth reading, as are any of these testimonies on being gay in the US military offered by the ServiceMembers Legal Defence Network blog.

We actually touched on this issue in the Ethics course that’s just wrapping up here in Ottawa. Bottom line: doesn’t matter what we as chaplains believe about homosexuality according to our theological beliefs. As chaplains, we are called to serve all in the military without partiality as best as we can. These stories reinforce the fact that gay and lesbian soldiers are as human as anyone else in or out of uniform, and that the military is not immune to the social complexity of this issue. As an infantry major I know likes to say, “If they can shoot straight and march far, we like ’em.” Amen to that.

0 Responses

  1. Bottom line: doesn't matter what we as chaplains believe about homosexuality according to our theological beliefs.

    That's not precisely true for the American military. US military Chaplains serve at the pleasure of their sending denominations, and under policies saying they are not required to take part in conduct contrary to their theological beliefs. For example, there is no expectation or requirement that a Jewish Chaplain would ever perform a Catholic Mass, despite the absence of a Chaplain priest. Thus, the theological beliefs of Chaplains do matter.

    The concern in this case is not merely that homosexuals would be allowed to serve, but that their conduct, though morally disagreeable to some, would be officially defended.

    For example, if a Wiccan comes to a Christian Chaplain for counseling, the Christian Chaplain is under no obligation to either agree with or support the truth claims of the Wiccan's beliefs. The Chaplain is free to discuss the relative merits of their opposing belief systems. If the Wiccan wants to speak with someone who will agree with his theological beliefs, the Chaplain can refer him to someone else, rather than be compelled to provide positive spiritual counsel on beliefs inconsistent with his faith.

    On the other hand, if a homosexual comes to a Chaplain for counseling, the fear–justified or not–is a Chaplain would be required to "agree" with the homosexual lifestyle, under threat of censure. There is a concern that the military would punish Chaplains who expressed disagreement with a homosexual lifestyle, or tried to refer a homosexual to another like-minded individual, even though, theologically, the situation would be no different than the Wiccan in the prior example.

  2. What really should matter is that everyone, homosexual or not, Christian, Jew, Muslim or Wiccan, should have access to spiritual, mental, emotional and physical care for the well-being of each. I cannot imagine being in a battlefield situation; thank God I have never had to do that. Stress affects us all and it must be so much worse when there's bullets flying about or bombs that might get stepped on and end one's life.