Full of Surprises

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Not having said anything about the monkeyshines of the erstwhile CO, Captain Honors, of the U.S.S. Enterprise, allow me to do so now. Since the videos that cost him his command were a few years old, the first thing that occurs to me is that he was probably done in by some competitor. We can file this under “yet another Social Media firing.” You know the kind of thing . . . someone calls his boss a jerk on Facebook, his boss reads it and lets him go. The former employee, meanwhile, wants to claim that the firing was an invasion of his privacy. Somebody read what I published for the whole world to read, and this is unconscionable.

Back to the Navy. We have multiple problems here, layered like they were chocolate cake, with raspberry filling in between the layers. Only the problems aren’t chocolate, and they don’t taste good. But they are layered.

The first is that we see how inadequate professionalism is an an antidote to the unregenerate heart of man. You take a bunch of sailors, who act like sailors always have, and who like what sailors all have always liked, and you send them out on a floating city for months at a time. You put some women on board for some reason, for what could possibly go wrong, and they all have access to video equipment. This means that it is just a matter of time.

And it is just a matter of time before this kind of thing is masterminded by the mastermind, by some guy at or near the top. The lame defenses that were offered for Honors after the fact sometimes appealed to context, and to the fact that Honors was just trying to “raise morale.” Everybody knows that raising morale is a good thing, right? Everybody should also know that there are two kinds of football coaches — the kind who think that discipline is indivisible, and who insist on a strict code of conduct on and off the field, and then the other kind who say that the football field is the only place where discipline matters, and who don’t care how many strip clubs the guys hit the night before the game. The latter think that they are “leaders of men,” but they are actually just bribers of men.

The military has always had this kind of leader, but it should be known that it is this kind of leader who, after the city falls, allows his troops to go in for a little compensatory rapine, pillage and slaughter. To build morale. Slack hand leadership is the kind of leadership that creates excesses like the Abu Ghraib debacle.

So this is no defense of raunchy behavior, no “sailors will be sailors” defense. Sailors need discipline, but they need the kind of discipline that can only grow out of a Christian civilization. They need, in short, the kind of discipline that can flourish in a culture saturated by gospel norms. And even then, in order for such discipline to exist at sea for months at a time, you need leaders who are extraordinarily competent, and who themselves have been shaped by a gospel-shaped culture.


Our military prides itself on being “professional.” And that is a good thing. But like all good things in the world, it is not itself the gospel, and cannot do a single, blessed thing about the wicked heart of man. Furthermore, it cannot sustain itself. Professionalism and competence are fruit, not root. Morality at sea is fruit, not root. A tight ship is fruit, not root.

The laughable thing about all this is the delusional state of those who think that you can bring up a generation through a godless system of education, have them steeped in degraded entertainment, support their right to get condoms from the school nurse ad libitum, and then have a mysterious change come over everybody as soon as they join the Navy, they cast off the last line, and put out to sea. Life is full of surprises for the unteachable fool.

And with the repeal of DADT, we have now in effect privileged homosexual expression at sea, and you can’t do that without accepting what comes from it. He who says A must say B . . . whether or not you really want to say B.

In order to live by a particular code, men need reasons. Maintaining discipline at sea would be hard enough, even if the whole culture knew that Jesus is Lord, and that He, the Savior of mankind, is in the process of restoring heaven and earth. But if the reason is that we used to have some reasons two hundred years ago, reasons that morphed into core values of some sort, and we think they still might be around here somewhere . . . and yet we still feel an emotional need to keep up the pretence of professionalism, then we will get the kind of Navy we are building. Sooner or later, you wind up where you are going.

Without Jesus, you have no way of dealing with sin. Without Jesus, you have no way even to define it. A Navy captain showed a video of some women showering together. So?

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