Military Services FAQ
When entering the military, or if your son or daughter is entering the military, you may have many questions. Military life is very different from anything in the civilian world. WELS Military Services has addressed some of the spiritual challenges. Check out Staying Close to God’s Word While in the Military and the resources for the WELS service member. Please provide contact information for WELS Military Services at wels.net/refer so we can provide God’s Word to your service member.
Below are answers to some spiritually minded questions asked by those new to the military.
People who serve in the military may be directly or indirectly responsible for killing someone. Is service in the military a moral vocation?
There are several applicable Biblical principles. First, God himself establishes governments to punish evil, protect the good, and preserve the peace (Romans 13:1-4 and I Peter 2:13-14). In addition, John the Baptist advises soldiers not to extort money, not to accuse people falsely, and to be content with their pay (Luke 3:14). Government has been established by God, and service in such matters is noble for God fearing Christians.
Although service in the military is an honorable profession, your specific conflict and your individual actions need examination. A war to preserve the peace or in self-defense is a war in which you can engage according to God’s will. Rebellions are against God’s will. The Bible does not specifically address the morality of every type of conflict, and reasons for military actions are often complicated. Therefore, if you know a war or your specific command in the war is wrong, you must fear God rather than men and refuse to serve (Acts 5:29). However, if the war is moral or if you cannot determine if the war or specific action is moral, then you should assume the best of your superiors and follow commands with a clear conscience (I Corinthians 13:7).
Luther wrote a letter, “Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved” in which he addresses questions of conscience surrounding military service. Luther also gives this specific advice to soldiers:
“Before God he should be discouraged, fearful, and humble, and commit his cause to him that he may dispose things, not according to our understanding of what is right and just, but according to his kindness and grace. In this way he wins God to his side with a humble, fearful heart. Toward men he should be bold, free, and confident because they are in the wrong, and smite them with a confident and untroubled spirit.”
Does WELS offer any spiritual support to our sons and daughters in the military?
Yes! The primary purpose of the WELS Military Services Committee is to make God’s Word and Sacrament available to our actively serving military personnel and their families. WELS is committed to providing military ministry. You can find information about our ministry in the U.S. and overseas on the wels.net/military webpages.
How do I sign up to receive ministry while I am in the military?
It is important that you take the initiative to receive ministry. The military will facilitate access to WELS ministry to the military if you request it yourself according to protocol. Every situation is different, but here are some easy first steps:
- Sign up at wels.net/refer. When you sign up, you will receive a Spiritual Deployment Kit with a Bible, a Lutheran book for private worship, and military specific devotions. You will also receive regular devotional e-mails written by our National Civilian Chaplain. Parents, you can sign up your children as well!
- Talk with your local pastor. Explain how long you expect to be gone, and the best way to get in contact with you while you are away. Ask him to pray for you and to keep in touch with spiritual encouragement for you.
- If stationed in the United States, follow this link to find and contact your nearest Military Contact Pastor. If stationed in Europe, follow this link to contact the European Chaplain.
- If you have any questions about receiving spiritual care while serving anywhere in the military, especially when you are deployed, please contact our National Civilian Chaplain at [email protected].
I will be leaving for basic training soon. How can I stay close to the Lord while I am in the military?
You put your faith in danger whenever you separate yourself from God’s Word and Sacrament. The military will not provide regular reminders to hear God’s Word. Remember to pray. Make sure you have a plan to stay close to God’s Word while in the military. Perhaps for the first time, you will need to take the initiative and reach out to hear God’s Word and receive the Sacrament. We are here to help!
How do I find out if there are any WELS services offered in the area where I’m stationed?
The WELS has a network of Military Contact Pastors (MCPs) that are listed online. MCPs are congregational pastors at congregations close to military installations in the United States. Contact your nearest MCP and develop a plan to hear God’s Word and receive the Sacrament. You can find the MCP closest to your base by following this link. Depending on the situation, you may be able to travel off base and worship with the congregation. In other situations, the MCP will come on base to serve. For more information, please read “How to have religious services on base.”
My child entered the military right after graduating from high school. He has just completed basic training. This is his first time away from home. Are there specific temptations in the military I should talk to him about?
Yes. Young people are susceptible to many temptations. Some of these temptations are common in the military. These include alcohol abuse, pornography, using God’s name in vain, using God’s name to curse, sins against the 6th commandment, poor stewardship, and the glorification of violence. Although these temptations may seem daunting, receive comfort from God’s Word!
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
My child feels a lot of peer pressure to go out with his military friends to places he would not normally go. What advice can I give him?
As we mature, we learn the wisdom of Proverbs 1:10, “My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.” Every Christian needs to learn to use Christian judgment in what we do and who we associate with. If colleagues are a negative influence, it may be time to associate with someone else. Sometimes when a person doesn’t join the crowd, they find other friends who don’t go along with the crowd. Avoiding temptations allows us to let our light shine and be a Christian witness.
This is the first time my child had a regular income. How can I encourage him/her to be a good steward of their money?
Everything we have comes from God. He provides for our needs. This is a good opportunity to learn how to be wise in the use of God’s gifts.
When starting out in the military, it’s important to watch out for lenders. Some lenders will specifically target military because they know they are under contract and have a reliable income. Some lenders will offer deals on cars or other major purchases with a high interest rate, that will end up costing much more than the upfront cost over the life of the loan. It’s good to avoid debt and beware slick salespeople especially in areas frequented by young military members.
The military will pay for many basic expenses such as healthcare, transportation, and lodging. A lot of money passes through a person’s hands throughout their military career. Our heavenly Father provides resources to meet our needs, but he also intends for us to pay taxes, to save for our future and for emergencies, and to help people in need. He tells us that he gives us more than we need, so that we can also give back to him to show our thanks. Make a plan to use resources wisely.
Will I be able to share my faith in the military?
You will be living among many people who have never heard the gospel. Your words, attitudes, and actions will be noticed and may prompt questions about your beliefs. Point them to Jesus. WELS Military Services has prepared a helpful resource on sharing your faith while in the military. Follow this link to learn more.