Bitter Sweet Memory Day

Stephen R. Phinney

This weekend we set aside time to honor those who have served our country in the armed forces. This particularly affects the families of those who gave their lives.

I am 55 years old. In my short life, I have seen many changes in our military. Growing up in the military with a father who was highly decorated for his “sacrificial acts of service,” I have a deep appreciation and respect for those who served, or were forced to serve, our country. For example, my father taught all six of his children to stand up when a man, or woman, in uniform (no matter what their rank) walked into the room. I was not to speak unless spoken to and, if spoken to, I responded with “yes sir” or “yes mam.” When visiting a Veteran cemetery, we were to show our respect for the dead by our silence, with hands crossed behind our backs. When the flag was paraded within eye sight, we were to stand in silence until it passed. As the American flag was being raised, we were expected to put our right hand over our hearts in silence – in school or not. When hosting a superior officer, we were trained to serve their every need without complaint. In short, we were trained to honor and serve our authorities and respect the symbols that stood for our country.

Fast forward to 2010. As the saying goes, “We’ve come a long way baby.” In our post-modern culture today, we hang the American flag upside down to make a statement, or worst yet, burn it. The military is used for a political gay rights venue, protesting on grave sites, suing for mentioning God at a military funeral, and the list goes on and on. What has happened to our culture? Why have our children’s children turned emergent? Why don’t present day “Christians” respect authority – even if they are unreasonable?

I don’t care what particular politics are behind each war! What I do care about is the American Veterans that risked their lives, and continue to, for the people of the United States. It would seem obvious that in return an individual who is willing to risk their life for the welfare of others is deserving of a little respect. This begs the question as to why so many Veterans have been treated disrespectfully, or worse, disregarded. The politics of war are beyond the responsibility of the individual soldiers, nurses and countless others who serve, or served, their country. In our new “post-modern” society, these individuals are poorly represented in most venues that depict our soldiers or veterans. What has happened to the heart of patriotism in this country? How is it that a youth can stand on the grave of a dead father who gave his life for his country, shake his fist at Washington, and demand to be free as a practicing sin filled homosexual?

Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. (1 Peter 2:13-19)

Our first problem is that children of our “post-modern/post-Christian/Emergent” culture no longer believe in the absolute authority of the Word of God. Once Satan is able to desensitize our thinking to the point of believing the Word of God is “relative” (not permanently fixed), he is able to remove the strongest, and most offensive, word in God’s vocabulary – absolute AUTHORITY. Therefore, if you are one of these emergent readers, you should stop here. You will, no doubt find the remainder of this article “offensive,” “opinionated” and “right-winged.”

Assuming that the Word of God is the actual words of God, I move forward with the Truth. God said in this particular passage, submit (yield) for His sake, not man’s, to EVERY human institution. That means national, state, city, community, church and domestic. The word submits comes from the word submission. Sub-mission is not a “door-mat” way of living. It is adopting the mission of an authority figure even when the reasons and/or purpose might not be known to the server. Therein lies the problem!

The people with a post-modern mentality are of the firm belief that they “need to know so they can blow.” When our culture switched from submitting without knowledge to only submitting to knowledge that is agreeable to the servant, we lost the mandate and order of God. Satan knows this! The emergent can argue this point until the second coming but it won’t change the fact that it is pure Truth.

God clearly told us in verse 15 that this is His will and those of us that choose to do His will literally silence the arrogant and ignorance of foolish leaders. This is a principle I rarely see practiced in this day and age. What I do see is “Christians” using their “FREEDOM in Christ” as an excuse (covering) to do evil (not to submit to God’s will). Honor? Emergent and post-modern “Christians” have no clue what honor is! No clue! So how can they honor ALL people, love the brotherhood, fear God and honor governing authority? True honor is always tested by its greatest command – being submissive to authoritive figures with all respect, not only to those who are good, gentle and reasonable, but also to those who are unreasonable and harsh. That is the real test of honor.

The shocking reality is – we, as the true children of God, indwelt Christians, cannot even gain the favor of God unless we do this! Is this a little too shocking? If so – it’s time to review the level of absoluteness dwelling in our mortal minds.

How do honor and harshness work together? Well, I grew up in a home with a harsh father who spent the majority of his life searching for acceptance, respect and honor. I personally know what it feels like to suffer unjustly under unreasonable authority BUT because of my daddy’s training, I still find room in my heart to honor, love and fear in spite of his harsh search for love, acceptance and forgiveness.

My daddy accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and has since gone on to be with the Lord, mom too – but to this day, I still stand up when a man/woman in uniform steps into the room. I stop, and take off my hat in the presence of the American flag. I still walk through Veteran’s cemeteries, in silence, with my hands crossed behind my back. For this, I thank my earthly father – the son of a Quaker preacher. Though he was oftentimes rebellious, he was clear about one thing - the absolutes of the Word of God.

Thanks dad! I still honor and respect all the sacrificial deeds (voluntarily and forced) you displayed as a “lifer” in the United States Military! All of your metals and letters from Presidents don’t even come close to saying what my heart feels for you. In spite of your sinful shortcomings, and at times, harsh leadership, you are my daddy, father and friend.

Dad, I will see you soon, sir!