Spiritual Fitness in the Army

I find the very phrase “spiritual fitness” in any context other than a voluntary group, such as a Bible study, prayer, or meditation group, very troubling. What makes one fit can find such incredibly odd definitions.

When I was in the Air Force, I was told by a supervisor that if I did not go out to bars with the men, my career would be stunted because people wouldn’t want to help me if I wasn’t their friend. He said this quite seriously in front of a room full of people. Oddly enough, our unit was dealing with quite a number of DUI incidents at the time, and I was and am a non-drinker. (No, I don’t think it’s wrong to drink; I just think it’s a bad idea for me to drink.)

I give this as an illustration of the way such authority works. “Different” becomes dangerous. “Unit cohesion” or “morale” can be the excuse for forcing people to conform to what the leadership wants. If you think the leadership will always want something sensible, then you live in dreamland.

Now I’m reading that the army tests for spiritual fitness and has remedial training for those who don’t seem “spiritually fit” enough. I think Ed deals with the topic sufficiently from the point of view of the secular person. What I’m wondering is how a believer can think this is a good idea. As a veteran, the very idea of any of the military leaders under whom I served, and that includes some people I regard as stellar leaders, is terrifying. The military is simply not the place for it.

Fellow Christians, when we take the power of the state to enforce something we like, the results will not be good. The results of this idea will not be good either.

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