The Conscientious Cooperator

I was introduced to Desmond T. Doss in a Netflix documentary of his service in 2010. He was a Seventh Day Adventist, an ordinary man whose extraordinary faith and courage left an indelible mark on the combat history of our nation.

     He never touched a gun or killed an enemy soldier, but the heroic exploits of Alvin York and Audie Murphy cannot compare to what he did. He was the first conscientious objector to win our nation’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor.

     Mel Gibson brought this remarkably true story to moviegoers in the film titled, “Hacksaw Ridge.” It is a must-see for the Christian patriot. This Memorial Day weekend I felt compelled to share his story again.

     Growing up in a Christian home Desmond was appalled to learn of the story of Cain and Abel. He could not understand why a man would kill his own brother. As a boy he vowed to never take another man’s life.

     When the attack on Pearl Harbor ushered the United States into World War II, Doss thought it was his patriotic duty to enlist. That first night in the barracks he was taunted for praying while his fellow recruits threw their boots at him. When he refused to train on the Sabbath or touch a firearm, he was ridiculed. Doss vowed while others would take lives he would be by their side to save lives.

     Despite the repeated humiliation heaped on him, he never took offense nor compromised his faith. When the 77th was deployed to the Pacific Theatre, in one engagement after another, this man his fellow soldiers called a coward distinguished himself repeatedly in providing lifesaving aid to those who fell in combat.

     Eventually the 77th was sent to Okinawa to reinforce the American troops attempting to take the island. The Japanese had retreated to the Shuri escarpment, a plateau three hundred feet above the island. The last fifty feet was a vertical climb made possible only by the use of ship cargo nets. The Americans called it Hacksaw Ridge.

     The Japanese were well entrenched. In nine successive assaults the Americans had reached the plateau only to be thrown back by withering fire. On April 29, 1945, A Company tried again. As the day closed, A Company was forced to retreat leaving seventy-five casualties behind.

     During the next twelve hours, under cover of darkness, Doss climbed to the top, alone and under constant fire from enemy snipers, he rescued every single man by dragging each one to the edge of the escarpment and letting them down by a rope. Doss prayed, as he let each man down to safety, “Lord, let me get one more.”

     Doss said of himself, “I was not a conscientious objector, I was a conscientious cooperator.” Doss exemplified the words of Christ, who said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13.

Irena Sendler

Thanks to the movie Schindler’s List, many of us know who Oscar Schindler is, and how at great cost he managed to save 1200 of his Jewish employees from the Holocaust. But most of you have never heard of Irena Sendler who saved 2500 Jewish children.

Born on February 15, 1910, in the town of Otwock, Poland, she would grow up and become a Catholic social worker. Sometime after Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Sendler joined a Polish resistance group the Council to Aid Jews also known by its Polish name Zegota.

She was assigned to work with children and sent to the Warsaw Ghetto. Built by the Nazis in 1940, the Warsaw Ghetto was a 1.3 square mile walled off section of the city that served as a holding prison for 400,000 Jews. Those who were not hauled off to the death camps were slowly starved to death.

The Germans feared the spread of diseases like typhus and would allow Sendler and others in to try to promote good hygiene among the prisoners. While inside, they talked parents into surrendering their children to be smuggled out in suitcases and medical bags saving them from the ovens and gas chambers.

She and her colleagues kept meticulous records hoping to reunite children with their parents once the war was over, but sadly many of the parents died.

Eventually, she was reported to the Gestapo and arrested. Though she was tortured to the point of having her legs and feet broken, she never revealed the identities of any of her confederates in the Zegota, or the children they rescued.

Sentenced to be executed; she was aided in an escape. After she recovered from her injuries, she returned under a false name to work as a nurse in a public hospital where she managed to save five more Jews and survived the war.

For her life-saving work she was recognized by the nation of Israel as “Righteous among the Nations,” those non-Jews who labored to save Jews from the Holocaust. She was later awarded the Order of the White Eagle, her homeland’s highest honor for her humanitarian aid to the Jewish people.

Pope John Paul II sent Sendler a personal letter for her work, and in 2007 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She lost to Al Gore who was awarded the Nobel Prize for producing the documentary on global warming titled An Inconvenient Truth.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13. Irena Sendler’s many sacrifices, humanitarian aid and life-saving work rank among history’s noblest, and I think it is an inconvenient truth she was upstaged by a documentary on global warming.

Did President Trump truly Promote Religious Liberty

In a Rose Garden ceremony President Trump unveiled his executive order entitled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.” From what I can tell, it says a lot about free speech, a right we already have, and does nothing to protect religious liberty.

Trump’s order seems to offer some relief to those evangelical universities locked in legal battles over the contraceptive mandate outlined in the Affordable Care Act, and claims to protect pastors from prosecution under the Johnson Amendment for endorsing political candidates from their pulpits.

I remember Trump saying when he was on the campaign trail that he would make it safe for believers to say “Merry Christmas” again. I thought then that was not a concern to me because I had never stopped saying “Merry Christmas.”

But it was those kind of statements that made me think he was out of touch with the real concerns of believers. Did he truly understand Christian values or was he just courting the evangelical vote? I am beginning to think it must be the latter.

Professor John Inazu at Washington University School of Law said, “When it comes to challenges to religious liberty, the Johnson Amendment is about the least important issue I can think of.” President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview John Stonestreet echoes that sentiment when he stated, “More important than whether pastors can speak politics is whether everyone can live their convictions in [the] public square.”

Their concerns come from the fact that Trump’s order did not include any language addressing the ongoing conflicts between the LGBT community and those who wish to simply practice their sincerely held beliefs. It contains no declared protection of religious liberty despite its titled claim. How can Trump claim to be promoting religious liberty without protecting it?

“Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked,” Proverbs 25:26. Believers cannot retreat from being an influence for biblical justice and morality in society lest we too become polluted and swept up in our culture’s corruption.

At the same time Christians should not become overly entangled in the political process to the point that we become little more than a puppet to the political system. We have a separate mandate and would do well in this respect to remember what our Lord told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world,” John 18:36.

The potential consequences to increased political speech in the pulpit both good and bad are many. But I believe politics should be about principles not personalities, issues not individuals, the character of our government and not the candidates running for office.

While the jury is still out on how Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch will rule on matters of law that affect the unborn, marriage and religious liberty, his appointment seems to be a good start for Trump. But he stumbled with this executive order that was suppose to promote religious liberty.

Gay Conversion Therapy

California has a law that “prohibits state-licensed mental health counselors, including psychologists and social workers, from offering therapy to change sexual orientation in minors.”

David Welch is a licensed family therapist in the San Diego area, and an ordained minister and counselor at a local evangelical church. He believes marriage should be between one man and one woman.

David and some fellow plaintiffs believe the California law infringes on their free exercise of religion secured by the First Amendment, so they took the State of California to court, the United States Supreme Court to be exact.

The Supreme Court upheld the California ban on conversion therapy. David and his fellow litigants lost their case, and justly so for two reasons, they got the cart before the horse legally and biblically.

Under the law the State of California has the right to license therapists as they please and regulate them as they please. As a state-licensed therapist, state law binds David. But states do not ordain ministers, and while states recognize the ordinations conferred by churches and denominational entities they cannot regulate the free exercise of religion.

Had David counseled a minor in his capacity as a minister, that homosexuality was a sin and shared with him the need to repent and trust Christ as his Savior, he would have been exercising his right to freedom of religion and would have been on firm constitutional ground.

The reason Christians so often find themselves on the losing end in court is they argue for something they do not need rather than exercising the freedom they already have. That is what happened here.

I had not investigated “gay conversion therapy” until I researched it for this article. It seems conversion therapy consists of telling the minor homosexuality is bad and something one should not do while using electrical stimulation in some instances.

This is where conversion therapy gets the cart before the horse biblically. You cannot talk and torture someone into changing his or her behavior, before there has been a change of heart.

Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, not the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

This is where Christianity in America continues to miss the boat. We seem to think if people will merely change their sinful behavior there has been a spiritual transformation and everyone will live happily ever after. But the problem is much deeper than that. We have a moral problem here in America because we have a spiritual problem here in America.

We don’t need conversion therapy, because a genuine conversion is all the therapy anyone needs.