What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.
“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.
Military Cutbacks: Wisdom Or Foolishness?
Look at both sides before you decide
By Dr. Tom Askew
In a way, it was predictable that following hard on the heels of budget deadlocks, government shut-downs, sequestrations, and talk show rantings about funding cuts to military veterans, there would be another round of bad news soon. Or was it?
The recent announcement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel that there will be a systematic reduction in forces in the U.S. military over the next several years was greeted by both shrieks and applause. Before looking at the cheers and boos in detail, here’s a more or less balanced statement of the proposed effects:
- Reduction of Army personnel from roughly 540,000 to about 440,000 (about 20 per cent)
- An increase in health insurance benefits for military retirees balanced against a reduction in tax-free housing allowances for the same group
- Retirement of the U-2 spy plane in favor of the remotely powered Global Hawk
- Complete elimination of the Air Force A-10 attack aircraft
First, the voices favoring this position
The Obama administration: “It…[will] leave the military capable of defeating any enemy but too small for long foreign occupations, and would involve greater risk if U.S. forces were asked to carry out two large-scale military actions at the same time.”
A senior Pentagon official: “You have to always keep your institution prepared, but you can’t carry a large land-war Defense Department when there is no large land war.”
The Cato Institute: “Given rapidly rising personnel costs…the only way to achieve actual savings may be a smaller active-duty force…one doubts that the American public is terribly worried about a military that might be slightly less likely to get involved in unnecessary and counterproductive nation-building missions in distant lands.”
And then, the opposition
Ohio Republican Representative Michael Turner: “The world is not getting to be a safer place. This is not the time for us to begin to retreat, and certainly not the time to cut our military.”
Texas Republican Representative Michael McCaul: “It’s all being sacrificed…on the altar of entitlements. This president cannot take on mandatory spending, so all we’ve done in the Congress—and this president—is basically cut discretionary spending.”
Retired General Jack Keane: “The assumption that’s being made in the Pentagon…is they don’t believe the United States will involve itself in a ground war of any consequence again. The fact of the matter is, those assumptions have been made after World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War, and every single time they have been proven wrong. Here, we are making that same assumption again.”
Is there a Biblical position?
With respect to the many Christians who are pacifists, there is nevertheless much scriptural support for the notion that armies will be a necessity until Christ’s return. Furthermore, as illustrated by the Centurion in Matthew 8, soldiers may serve in armies and still be faithful Christians. Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, is not strictly imagery, and the Bible even says there are “wars of the Lord.” (Numbers 21:14)
Romans 13:1-7 gives a clear understanding that one of the legitimate functions of government is to protect the innocent and punish evildoers. It must be noted that while this is a role that Christ’s followers must ascribe to civil authorities, government-based charities are not as clearly defensible in scripture. Personal and church-based charities are presented as the expected norm in the New Testament.
Christians who take their citizenship seriously should consider these principles when evaluating actions of government. Is the direction that the government is taking in line with what scripture teaches, or is it different? How can you support Biblical wisdom in national affairs? You must speak what the Bible says, vote for those who agree with it, and intercede for mercy.
A Time For Prayer:
While you must continue to intercede for the president, Congress, the courts, and all other officials, you must also confess that your help is in the Name of the Lord. Here is a prayer, written by the Moravians, that can bring much comfort in that respect:
Nothing can prevail against you, O God, be it government, corporation, public policy, or economic reality; not fire, storm, or flood. When the evils of this world approach us, deliver us, Lord, from our time of trial. Amen.
Dr. Tom Askew has been an educator in both public and private schools for over 40 years, in both the U.S. and overseas. He is currently doing educational consulting and instruction for Christian schools in Arizona.
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