Sunday, April 01, 2007

Patton or Moses?

In the movie Patton, George C. Scott addresses the troops before battle, telling them that he doesn't want any of them dying for his country. Wars aren't won that way, he remarks. "What I want you to do," he growls, "is make the other SOB die for his country!"

That's what movies are like. But here's what Moses directed for a pre-battle speech.
5The officers shall say to the army: "Has anyone built a new house and not dedicated it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may dedicate it. 6Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. 7Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her." 8Then the officers shall add, "Is any man afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too."
Deuteronomy 20:5-8
Patton had strategy and tough talk; the children of Israel had the Lord God All-Powerful. But this speech from Deuteronomy is more practical and certainly more realistic, because really, anyone can die in battle. Even if victory is ultimately assured, things go wrong and people are killed. Hey, people are even killed on the highway from time to time. So it's prudent to excuse a guy from military service if he's betrothed, a new homeowner, etc.

It's more than prudent; there is something humane about it, whatever else you think about war. It doesn't say that one man's life is more valuable than another's, but it acknowledges that there are seasons in a man's life that would be particularly bad times to be killed in battle.

It also acknowledges that whatever the mission, there are seasons in your life or in mine where we are not supposed to go -- into battle, onto the mission field, or even onto a committee. This passage doesn't give us detailed guidelines, but again, whatever the mission, whatever the job is in God's kingdom, he is not desperate for soldiers; his resources are adequate. Of course, if I am called for something, I should go do it. But a need at this time for this particular purpose is not necessarily a call on that person in particular to fill it.

Hyper-responsible people might want to consider that.

And how about those who, like me, are less than hyper-responsible? We'll handle that another day.

posted 4/2

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