Do We Think Law Enforcement Officers and Military Personnel are Necessary Evils?

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  1. walt January 17, 2014, 3:00 am

    The casting of “The Church” as being hostile to or percieving the military and law enforcenent as necessary evils clearly demonstrates that the writer is either misinformed or has some personal bias against “Christians” or whatever it is he calls “The Church.”
    .
    As a Bible believing Christian, an Ordained Lutheran Pastor, and a sworn Reserve Police Officer for the past 27 years, I have experienced “The Church” to be exceedingly supportive of both law enforcement and the military. “The Church” provides hundreds, perhaps thousands of Chaplains to law enforcement and the military.

    “The Church” frequently honors those who serve or have served in law enfircement and in the military during various holidays and other events.

    In my experience, “The Church” and the Christian people who are “The Church” embrace, respect, support, encourage, and regularly pray for those men and women who are the law enforcement and military people whom they value and whom they trust.

    1. Paul Watson January 17, 2014, 12:17 pm

      Walt,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Thank you for your service – inside the church as a Pastor and as a sworn Reserve Police Officer. I love the balance in those positions – nurturing the spirit and protecting lives. In those two roles you truly embody what it means to be a Shepherd. Thank you.

      I’m not biased against the church. In fact, as you can see in the ‘About’ section, I’m pretty engaged. I love the church enough to celebrate its strengths and express concern over its weaknesses. Rather than being an armchair quarterback, though, I’m working make the good things better and help strengthen her weaknesses.

      I’m glad your experience as a Reserve Police Officer has been positive. Although I don’t know the particulars of your situation, I have a couple of questions:
      1. In what region of the USA do you live? When I lived in Texas, I saw the church readily embrace police officers and military personnel. When I moved to the Pacific Northwest, however, I have not observed the same.
      2. Is it possible that people see you as an exception to what a Reserve Police Officer is, rather than the rule? Maybe they see you as Pastor first and Police Officer second? Perhaps your experience may not be as normative as you perceive it to be?

      Immediately after posting this article on Facebook and Twitter, a Police Office in Utah thanked me for writing it. I agree with you that we need to be careful about painting the Church with too broad a brush, but we cannot deny that some Police Officers and Military personnel have not had the same positive experience that you have.

      Once again, thank you for your service. We need more men like you and more churches like yours.

      Blessings,
      -Paul.

  2. Dan January 18, 2014, 2:49 pm

    It seems good to separate the people from the institutions here. People are valuable regardless of their occupation.
    The Military and Police Forces in our country (and in every country around the globe) are institutions. The ‘rightness’ of the institution may be measured by how well it serves itself versus how well it serves the people of the country it is a part of.
    My judgement (served 6yrs in the US Army, son of at least two generations of US Navy vets, good friend of an active duty police officer, and of several firefighters) is that our institutions are generally very good They generally serve the people. In other parts of this country, or with other circumstances, (eg your post on Trayvon Martin), and certainly in other countries, the situation can be much different.

    Your questions:
    How can any of our Military personnel and Law Enforcement Officers feel valued if they are perceived to be a ‘necessary evil?’ – They can feel valued if we can see them as people, and reach out to them as people. A challenge to this is that the unique and intense experiences in these occupations create for them a strong fraternal bond which can tend to create a barrier to outsiders. Love can find a way to push in as far as the MPLEOs are able to allow.
    How can the church expect to play a significant role in helping returning military personnel find a place in their community and deal with vital issues like PTSD if the church believes the Military is a ‘necessary evil?’ – I think it is possible for the church (Christians) to have a dim view of the military but still embrace the individual members of the military. That’s the position the church has been in for a very very long time in a huge part of the world (eg China, USSR, Iran, etc, etc, etc,). Right from the Gospels forward, the church has been at odds with the powers of the state, but embracing of the individual human beings.
    How can we stand an applaud our Military in one moment and yet reject them on a deeply personal level on the next? – How about flip that around. Let embrace them on a deeply personal level, as human beings. Perhaps we can applaud our Military. I think we can usually applaud the efforts of the soldiers. Can we always get behind the way our Military is used? I doubt it. And, if you think we can in the country, you know that we wouldn’t be able to in many other countries.

    1. Paul Watson January 18, 2014, 3:41 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Dan. And, thank you for your service. Excellent points. I don’t think there is anything I can add.