The Military and Temptations to Sin

December 9, 2003 | one comment

First Things reports that a Lieutenant Berry has just been vindicated in his attempts to avoid temptations to sin (scroll about 5/6ths down).

It seems the good lieutenant–a missileer–wished to avoid being alone for 24-48 hour periods with a female officer in underground missile silos.

He made the request to his superiors, while stating a willingness to make an exception for “military necessity.” He got black marks on his record for his pains.

The good folk at the Becket Fund took up the case and just succeeded in removing the derogatory entries. I can’t vouch for the Fund’s litigation tactics, or their Constitutional approaches, but I know I like the increased protection for religion that they seek.

Of course I’d prefer to live in a society that didn’t need litigation to understand trying to avoid adultery. I’d even settle for living in a society that didn’t share my personal religious commitments but at least had religious commitments of its own that would allow them to understand me.

In the meantime, well, Lt. Berry’s career is notionally back on track. It’s not much, but let me take my comfort where I can, and give due credit to “righteous gentiles” like the people at the Becket Fund who are willing to labor for our common cause.

P.S. For thhose not familiar with First Things, a short explanation may be in order. It’s subject is religion in the public square, although it branches out. It’s run by a Father Neuhaus, an orthodox Catholic convert from Lutheranism with a strong ecumenical bent. Jews and Protestants frequently publish in it. It’s (scroll down halfwayaudience sometimes takes itself a little seriously. (They call themselves ROFTERS–Readers Of First Things–, and organize discussion groups). It’s quality is high.

Fr. Neuhaus once wrote a long editorial comment on why Mormons weren’t Christians. His motives were obscure and his arguments were about what one would expect. After some stiff criticism, he later unbent enough to allow that we might be “marginal Christians” (scroll halfway down), which I guess is fair enough from his viewpoint.

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One Response to The Military and Temptations to Sin

  1. Kaimi on December 10, 2003 at 8:40 pm

    I’m not sure I like this decision at all. The idea of “I shouldn’t have to work around women because then I can’t control my thoughts” seems to be a pretty lame argument. Should I be able to sue my employer because I have had to work with women who wear skirts? (Oh no, I might notice their legs, and think bad thoughts!)

    The logic of that argument removes all responsibility for bad thoughts from the one person who can control them — the thinker. The same line of reasoning (men must not be exposed to women’s flesh, lest they lose control of their thoughts and/or actions) is the same logic that leads to forcing women to wear burka’s.

    Women have been kept as second-class citizens for years on the premise (among other things) that more liberated women would make men think bad thoughts. Any decision reinforcing that idea — that men are helpless lust animals, and must be kept away from women who might incite bad thoughts — is a step backwards.


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