Recently, I had the honor and privilege of attending the commissioning service of Air Force 2nd Lt. Max Robbins. Max recently graduated from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. I’ve known him, his sister, and his mom and dad for well over 30 years. Our relationship feels more like family than friends.
As I sat there watching through the mist of joyful tears, I listened as Max raised his right hand and promised to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic,” and that he “will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” A little later on in the oath, I heard Max swear that he would “faithfully discharge the duties of the office” and then finish with, “so help me God.”
Look at the words of the oath and notice how they are tied to the witness of Scripture. “Faithfully,” “true faith,” “allegiance” are all words that find their source in the Bible. They are words that demand the one who speaks them must be willing to back up their speech with courage and character. The United States military fields the best-trained, best-equipped, most lethal and effective fighting force in the world. Technologically speaking, our military has no peer. Oh, I know China may have more soldiers, more missiles, more total ships in their navy — and they may even have a slight advantage for the moment in missile technology. But make no mistake: If we ever really have to go to war, American forces will have the edge.
But it isn’t the technology, the bombs, the bullets, or the superior strategy of our leaders that gives our military the edge. It is the character of the men and women who serve — the ones who raise their right hand and take the oath, “freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” On June 6, 1944, the day the beaches of Normandy had to be taken, every soldier on every Higgins Boat knew when the door dropped that the majority of the first wave would be dead within minutes. Those who made it ashore came under continuous, withering fire — and yet they refused to run, choosing instead to charge forward against a fortress that many believed to be impregnable. More than 4,000 Allied soldiers died that day. In a matter of hours, 2,000 American solders lay dead on Omaha Beach or in the water near the shore.
Those soldiers were carried across that beach by character. They gave their last full measure of devotion — not because of their training or because they were ordered to, but because they knew it had to be done. They believed in something greater than themselves. They believed the United States represented the best hope for humanity to stop the evil that threatened to spread darkness across the globe. They picked up a weapon and charged, even though they knew many of them would never get off the beach.
What if U.S. soldiers had to cross that beach today? When Paul faced death at the hands of his Roman captors he wrote to the Philippians that “it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20). The Apostle Peter wrote, “The tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). Paul knew the path to avoiding shame must be paved with courage. Peter knew our faith would be tested by fire — but, in the end, it would result in praise, honor, and glory in the presence of Christ. The ageless biblical values of faith, courage, and selfless sacrifice are reflected in every soldier’s oath of office.
Today’s military leaders appear to be placing their trust in a new set of values. Thomas Spoehr, director of the Center for National Defense at the Heritage Foundation, points out the danger of the new woke ideology that has infected the top leadership in our military. Spoehr writes, “Woke ideology undermines military readiness in various ways. It undermines cohesiveness by emphasizing differences based on race, ethnicity, and sex.” Soldiers today are taught that the United States is systemically racist and fatally flawed. Spoehr points out, “Traditional training and education programs used to combat racial and sex discrimination have been supplanted by programs that promote discrimination by replacing the American ideal of equality with the progressive ideal of equity.”
In other words, today’s leaders are teaching the dangerous — and ultimately fatal — idea that the character of today’s solider no longer rests on faith, allegiance, courage, and selflessness, but on the woke ideals of equity, victimization, and the pursuit of self. These humanistic ideals won’t result in soldiers who will be willing to die for their country. They will result in soldiers who, at the moment of testing, will lack the character required to charge forward.
The success of our military rests on what is on the inside of every soldier. A biblical worldview is necessary to the development of every soldier’s ability to carry out their oath of service.