I received this topic from my Military Chaplaincy class today. After much prayer and thought, I can come to no other conclusion than that pluralism in the military is not merely acceptable, it is a necessity. Moreover, pluralism (a respect for all faiths, as one would expect respect for one’s own) is an effective testimony to the love of Christ and His followers. Here’s the short essay:
Discuss your rights as a military chaplain. Do you have to compromise your faith in order to become pluralistic?
My rights as a military chaplain are fairly clear: to serve soldiers who seek spiritual guidance, thus I have access to needing soldiers; to preach the according to my conscience, being able to do the work of God; and to receive the respect of other faith groups so long as I give the same respect in return. This last point, of mutual respect and support, is the basis for the necessity of pluralism within the military chaplaincy. There is absolutely no need to compromise one’s faith in order to comply with the necessity of pluralism.
When confronted with people who are angry over a pluralistic society, I always question how they would feel if the situation were reversed. Instead of being indignant over not being allowed to close prayers in the name of Jesus, in respect of others present, try to empathize with their situation. How would you feel if prayers were closed in Allah’s name? Mutual respect is not only part of common decency, it is commanded by our Lord to “love you neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). This does not negate the previous verse: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). The verse states to love your neighbor, not you Christian neighbor, or any other characterization.
Consistently through the scriptures, patience and respect are valued greater than pride, which is always detested (Ecclesiastes 7:8; Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:12; 1 Timothy 1:16). The Lord requires humility for service, and indignation, of which breeds “stupid arguments” with false teachers, will only produce an environment of intolerance (2 Timothy 2:23-24). We must be patient with others, in hopes that a seed will be planted by our behavior and the fruit of the Spirit. We have the ultimate joy, we are free in Christ, and if we are living our life to the glory of Christ we have no need to argue that we are the children of the Lord (Philippians 2:3-4, 14-15). Furthermore, we were given this order of pluralism by our “earthly masters,” our commanding officers. Just as Paul calls for servants to obey their earthly masters, as they would their heavenly Master, so must we heed their orders (Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Timothy 6:1-2).