The Military and Transgender Service

Recently, the Biden administration rescinded a presidential executive order that banned the service of so-called “transgender” individuals in the U.S. military (Note: I use “so called” here not to be derisive of precious people created in God’s image, but because I don’t believe “transgender” is a term that in any sense describes reality).  Both this move and likely future efforts to secure transgender military service in law are profoundly bad for the military, and for the national security of the United States.  Affirming transgender service in the U.S. military will have a slow-but-steady corrosive affect that, over time, will weaken our armed forces.  I make this rather strong prediction for three reasons briefly discussed below: reality, radical self-autonomy, and morality.

To begin, the U.S. military is a fundamentally realistic organization (or set of organizations).  The armed forces depend on realism.  They depend on a firm grasp of what is true and not what is fanciful.  Without this commitment to realism, military professionals cannot make accurate assessments, for instance, of an enemy’s strength; or of wise military strategy; or of the necessity for the use of force in a given situation.  The art of war depends on an iron-clad commitment to what is real.  Transgenderism, on the other hand, asserts a flawed perspective on reality.  It demands the fanciful supposition that a man can become a woman, or a woman become a man.  Transgenderism pushes against the biologically given realities of male and female.  It attempts to separate the concepts of gender and biological sex and suggests that we can view both as malleable.  Transgenderism even goes so far as to deny the very concept of gender as a meaningful descriptor of human beings.  At the very core of human identity, transgenderism demands unreality.  To allow transgender service in the military is to introduce unreality into the military’s most important asset, its people.  Over time, the effect of doing so will be to compromise the military’s grasp on reality.  Imagine the danger to this country when that happens.

Second, organizationally and culturally the military depends on a team ethic; on a shared sense of conviction and duty regarding the task at hand and the right way to accomplish that task.  The services spend incredible amounts of time, effort, and money training military members to think and operate as a team.  There is no room – or at least there shouldn’t be – in the armed forces for radical self-autonomy (hence the reason the Army’s “Army of One” slogan was so profoundly dismal).  Enter then transgender ideology, which is all about radical self-autonomy.  Transgenderism asserts the right of every individual to determine for himself or herself their true gender state, no matter how unreal that determination becomes.  Even more, transgenderism asserts the right of gender fluidity, such that one can change gender as one pleases, presumably moment-by-moment if it suits one’s fancy.  Such radical self-autonomy stands completely at odds with the military’s collective ethos.  While the effects of official capitulation to radical self-autonomy in the ranks will not be felt all at once, given time transgenderism’s impact on the military’s team ethic will prove disastrous.

Finally, the military needs a strong moral foundation.  It needs a consistent, steady, and unwavering grasp on right and wrong.  We ask our military members to function daily in a terrain fraught with serious moral hazard, including the deadly serious question of using lethal force on a large scale.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t suppose that the U.S. military has ever had an unassailable grasp on morality.  It is, after all, made up of morally flawed human beings.  But, say what you will of the U.S. military’s moral steadiness or lack thereof in the past, we should be deeply concerned for anything that chips away at the moral foundation of our armed services.  Transgenderism is a “chipping” influence.  The transgender ideology is morally wrong.  For a man to live as a woman is sin (and vice versa).  It is contrary to God’s design in creation (Genesis 1:27); contrary to God’s purpose and plan as revealed in his law (Deuteronomy 22:5); contrary to the truth (Acts 5:3; Romans 1:24-25); and contrary to the Gospel proper (Ephesians 5:1-11, Galatians 5:16-25).  Transgenderism is a corrosive influence on morality.  As it grows within the ranks of the armed forces, it will undercut the moral clarity so essential to making right decisions in matters of the greatest consequence.

Let me end with two last thoughts.  First, none of what I’ve said above supposes that anyone, Christians in particular, should adopt a hostile attitude toward those caught in the lie of transgenderism.  Such persons need not hostility, but the clarifying, truth-telling, sin-destroying love of Christ.  Of course, it’s also essential to remember that speaking the truth, as I’ve endeavored to do here, does not constitute “hostility,” no matter what thin-skinned postmodern culture might say.  Second, what is a Christian military professional to do in a day when the commander-in-chief publicly supports transgender service?  Well, perhaps the time will come when the best answer is, “Resign.”  I shudder for that day.  I shudder for the day when followers of Jesus will no longer understand themselves free to serve in the ranks of our armed forces.  But unless, or until, that day arrives, let me suggest a “Naaman-like” approach to “saluting smartly and pressing on.”  Give some time to reading and praying over 2 Kings 5 and hopefully you’ll catch my drift.

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