Military Service and Orthodoxy: The Present Dilemma

[Editor’s note:  This came to us from an Orthodox Christian who has served in the American military for over 20 years.  It was sent to us unsolicited and he asked us if we would consider publishing it.  Here it is, without any further comment.  He wishes to remain anonymous.]

If you’ve got family in the military, or if you’ve been following the news highlighting all the issues the U.S. Armed Forces are facing today, you’ll notice plenty of discussions highlighting the difficulty the military, especially the U.S. Army, is facing with respect to recruiting. In 2022, the Army faced the worst recruiting environment since the all-volunteer force was created in 1973, despite offering some of the largest enlistment bonuses ever.  The Army identities several reasons for the shortcoming in achieving recruiting goals, notably a Knowledge Gap (not enough Americans hearing the Army story), an  Identity Gap (not enough Americans can see themselves in the Army uniform, due to assumptions about life and culture) and a Trust Gap (younger Americans are losing trust and confidence in the military). If there’s one reason I will not recommend my children to serve in the military as it appears today, it’s the Trust Gap.

I come from the “less than 1%” of America where joining the military is a family tradition and an acceptable, if not expected, way to serve your country. I successfully served my country for over 20 years. My wife served for four. My father served in the U.S. Army for 20 years. Both of my grandfathers served in the military. My stepfather, stepmother, brother, two brother-in-laws all served in the military.
The conversation with my own children has not yet come up, but it will soon. 
I am trying to decide, should they express interest in the idea as they become adults, whether or not I will encourage my children to serve in the military. With the current senior leadership in charge, a leftist push within the ranks, politicized and unaccountable leaders in command, I’m leaning toward a resounding, “No. Not yet.” 
What we witnessed take place in the purge of 2020-2023 demonstrated a serious lack of Respect toward devout Christians in uniform, by both political  parties, a lack of Integrity displayed by commanders and senior leaders more concerned about their careers than asking critical questions and finding truthful answers, and very little Personal Courage exhibited by officers and NCOs pressured to stop physical fitness training, enforce unnecessary measures and mandates, and waste soldiers’ precious time on meaningless political agendas like DEI and transgender training. 
But the pull to serve our country and preserve its freedoms and way of life is a strong pull. So, in humility, to ensure my pride and anger at the events that transpired the past three years wasn’t clouding my judgement, wasn’t preventing me from advising my children to join a generally accepted noble profession, I asked an old family friend and Orthodox Chaplain his thoughts on serving today. This was his response: 
“Regarding your questions about your kids going into military service, it’s certainly dicey, more so than it was even a few years ago.  The Biden administration has taken things to a whole new level.  I’m not sure I would necessarily discourage just yet, but it may certainly come to that.  Yes, we follow the orders of politicians, but we serve the people of the country and we have their respect and gratitude.  It seems we have their trust too, which makes us at least one category of a profession.”
One of the first things we should understand is the definition of the military profession.  A society needs the profession to survive.  If it’s not needed for survival, it’s not really a profession.  So I really believe our country and our way of life NEED the Army to be a profession.  I also think we can fairly make a distinction from whose orders we follow and whom we actually serve. Christians who serve in the military will probably get little benefit from the military and probably will be placed in difficult situations.  However, the military will get great benefit from the service of Christians being there.
Take a look at Church history and we see countless military saints serving in the Roman Army.  Christ never told the Centurion to leave the Roman Army that served a pagan emperor that worshipped pagan gods.  Neither did John the Baptist tell the Soldier to leave the Army.  Arguably, that Roman Army, wherein orders were routinely given to offer incense to pagan gods, was a worse situation than serving in the US Army today yet we have no record of Christians leaving the Roman Army because of their faith.  We DO have a record of them being martyred in the Army because of their faith because they remained Soldiers.
By the time Constantine took over the Army nearly half of his Army was Christians, which led to his own conversion.  When Christians leave an institution they leave a vacuum of virtue in their wake.  Even if we go full blown totalitarian atheist Marxist in the U.S. and the Army is given orders to massacre Christians, I’d sure hope that there is some semblance of Christian leadership in the Army to come to some sort of rescue, if not for the Army, maybe for one or two people.
Edmund Burke said, “An armed disciplined body is in its essence dangerous to liberty.  Undisciplined it is ruinous to society.” Dangerous to liberty?  Yes, because they can take over the government whenever they decide they want to.  No one can stop them.  Undisciplined there is no stopping the hell that can be absorbed by their victims.
That being said, I used to tell lawyers and chaplains, when I read them this quote:  “The Army is a lethal devouring beast, and you (Chaplains and JAGs) are the conscience of that beast (JAGS provide deontological ethics and Chaplains provide virtue ethics).  If the beast loses its conscience, woe be unto all of us.”
So, I guess in conclusion I would say, as long as the U.S. military remains powerful and lethal, I sure hope to God it doesn’t become void of Christians.  We desperately need Christians at all levels of the military.  So, although your kids serving in the military will probably suffer some persecution for their faith, or they’ll really need to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, and while they may have a hard time of it, I SURE HOPE THEY DO SERVE!  We probably need them now more than ever.  Christians in a group of people will guide the conscience of those in their midst with virtue and Truth.  And Truth always prevails.  And we need it in the military now more than ever. 
 So, to answer I think I say to you, your kids don’t have any need to serve at all.  It will most likely suck very badly.  However, WE need them to serve!  Without Christians the beast will lose its conscience.  In the military, moral men can (and will) disobey immoral orders, and in so doing save the day.  What happens where there are no moral men in the military, just a bunch of immoral people with high tech weaponry?  That’s a very scary thought.  So I might say, hey Christian parents!  We need ALL of your children in the military, RIGHT NOW!!  If there’s one institution we need Christians in, it’s the one that has the most guns.
 Completely pragmatic response, but think about it, if we have enough Christians in the military in the proper positions, who are true leaders of virtue, immoral politicians become irrelevant.  Imagine if the WW2 German Army had about 1,000, or 10,000 more Claus von Stauffenbergs?  We might not even have had a WW2.
I realize his response won’t resonate with some of my more devout Orthodox Christian friends, but I appreciate his heartfelt and straightforward answer to my question. This chaplain is a true patriot and a true warrior, but more so he is an Orthodox Christian and a Priest and a Dad, so I’ll weigh his words a little while longer and see where our county and it’s military head… and of course I’ll pray.  God-willing, I’ll be able to advise them to continue in the family tradition in a few years. More importantly, if they do serve, they may find themselves in a position to act as courageous Godly examples to others and quite possibly display the attributes of honor, integrity, and personal courage, sacrificing and displaying their Love of God and love of their brother that are so desperately needed, yet so seemingly absent, in our government, and armed forces, today.
In Christ, 
Digital Warrior



  1. Antiochene Son says

    I have no interest in my children dying for this gay country and its gay values.

    I get the argument that conservatives abandoning institutions only leads to them getting worse. But this country has not needed a military since 1812, when the last just war happened. This country has been at war for almost its entire existence, almost never for good reason, and I’ve never supported it. It’s fundamentally wrong according to our founders.

    I don’t accept that the military defends our freedoms. That is propaganda.

    When has the military ever stopped any of the countless degenerate laws from passing? Where was the military stopping Waco or the surveillance state? Why did the military allow Biden to steal the election? Why didn’t the military back the Jan 6 protestors? Why does the military allow millions of babies to be killed each year? Because the military is a slave of the gay and evil policy makers, and therefore upholds the policies of gayness and evil., Not freedom.

    Our military spreads destruction and gayness around the world, murders Orthodox Christians, and bolsters our bad politicians at home.

    My advice to would-be warriors: Die to yourself and follow Christ. That is the only path to freedom and glory.

    • The military is a slave to its paymaster.

    • Wake up by People. All wars are bankers wars. Our nation is a slave to the bankers since the War of 1812. The American Revolution was fought over the Currency Act. Lest we forget our nation is the slave military for the bankers. They own us.

      • Best reasons not to join the army:
        1. Their forever wars
        2. They serve the federal reserve.

      • Antiochene Son says

        Very true. Even the constitution itself was a soft coup pushed by those who wanted forever debt.

        America as-founded died in 1789.

  2. Great piece – thanks so much for posting this, George!

    I was with the Army from the start of university in 1991 until 2021…. 30 years total. Also came from a family where military service is/was valued. A second cousin back in PA was the most senior ranking Marine Corps officer (Orthodox Christian) who was killed in the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing in 1983.

    The first 20 or so of my military service time, I loved it. Loved the friends I made and the travel, and as a young man there’s plenty of opportunity to do athletic, energetic stuff which young men generally like to do and have a good time bonding over. Loved time in Germany and Korea. Never felt any conflict between my Orthodox Christian faith and military service obligations. Enjoyed going to Divine Liturgy at the Orthodox Cathedral in Seoul !!

    One of my best confessions that I ever had was in Baghdad in 2006, when we had a visiting Orthodox Chaplain come for Holy Week and Pascha. I will not name the priest, but I can only say Thank You Thank You and I pray for you and your family! I don’t remember anything I said during that confession — I simply remember crying and sobbing during the entire confession because by that time I was tired, spent, homesick, and worn out, tired of bullets and tired of seeing people blown up and killed.

    It was honestly the best confession I ever had, possibly the first time I ever truly met Christ in my entire brokenness and the first time I ever was able to even partially relate to how He felt on that Cross — abandoned, alone, and seemingly forsaken by the world. Fr Tom Hopko said that all Christians must at some point in their lives feel as alone, hurt, and abandoned as Christ felt when He was Crucified. All I can say is Thank You God that there were Orthodox Military Chaplains. I’ve never been able to do much with going to protestant services when no Orthodox available… always find them silly and vapid.

    All that being said, the more senior I advanced in the military and definitely the last 2-3 years I was in, the turning tide was palpable. It’s been commented that the US Military is now a giant utopian socialist experiment, and on an organizational level, I definitely agree with that.

    With the problems the military is having now, as the author outlines very well above, it’s considered verboten and totally “uncool” to even begin to ask if the social experimentation they’re doing — glorifying homosexuality and the trans garbage, among other stuff — well, it’s not OK to even go there. That stuff is untouchable. As a Christian, I could sense strongly that the time of the American military honoring Christians was well past.

    I fortunately exited before the ludicrous COVID vaccine mandates in the military, but never wanting any COVID vaccine, the totalitarian push on servicemembers was equally insane. Thank God I was able to exit before being “voluntold” to get a COVID vaccine. I pray and have compassion for those who had to do so against their will – may God protect them.

    Plus, as many folks I knew over the years also became senior and selected for O-7 ranks (general/admiral and above), well, these were not the best and brightest. They were simply the people who stayed and played along, often the ambitious and narcissistic. When I was a kid, I thought generals were “gods,” but then the reality sinks in when you know these people that they are not, that many who advance to O-7 and above are simply those who want the rank for their ego and who play along in order to advance. Now someone’s gotta do it – so we have to have some good general officers out there – but the mystique that the military is run by the “best and brightest” is completely gone.

    I agree with Fr Josiah Trenham when he commented on a podcast years ago about his son going to UC Berkeley — it’s risky for an Orthodox Christian go to there, but if one is very well prepared as a Christian and is strongly grounded in the Orthodox faith and in the sacramental life of the Church, then it may be OK. These days, I view military service the same way. If you feel that God is calling you to be a helicopter pilot or a Russian translator or an infantry soldier, then maybe it’s OK.

    But paramount is first being well grounded in sacramental Orthodox Christianity and going in with your eyes open — that your faith will likely be reviled by the powers that be, but you will be loved by many. Your Ranger or aviation unit will absolutely love the friendship and selfless Christian qualities that you bring to the table. But the lesbian (or even trans….) O-7 general or admiral will despise the Orthodox Christian soldier or servicemember. American military service these days for an Orthodox Christian is in many ways a significant Cross to bear.

    A Blessed Lazarus Saturday tomorrow and upcoming Palm Sunday and Holy Week to all, especially to our site hosts, George and Gail.

  3. Fr. Dn. Mark Bohush says


    We thank Thee, O Lord our God, for all the blessings, which Thou givest us. Thou hast kept us by Thy power in good health during the night and Thou hast called us up from sleep, that we may enjoy the light of day and to marvel at Thy Majesty.
    We entreat Thee, O Lord, grant that we may live this day without danger or sin, but full of Thy mercies and Thy divine care. Protect my family and the families of my fellow soldiers from all evil. Enlighten the peoples who conquer and torture other nations; make them repent and seek peace, leaving other lands and their dwellers free.
    Open Thou the eyes of our mind to see Thy divine law and incline our hearts ever to do Thy commandments, to the glory of Thine all-holy Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
    O Thou Loving Father of us all, Who art here and everywhere, let Thy blessing be upon my loved ones at home. Keep them in Thy gracious care, protect them by Thy power and make their hearts glad in the thought of Thy nearness. Help them and help me to feel that however separated we are by distance, in Thee we are close to each other. Amen.

  4. Bear in mind, America takes an adversarial position to Christian Russia, being hellbent on its destruction and dismemberment. This is mostly for its Christian witness for its own sovereignty, the security of its people and the preservation of its religious/moral culture against the American imposition of satanic values. Christianity has been substituted for Communism as the “evil” America opposes.

    There is no one attacking America except those illegal aliens we invite in and our own semi-wild citizens in big blue cities. Thus, the military, far from “serving your country”, at present amounts to an immense welfare program. But that would be fine with me, having nothing against immense welfare programs, if not for the fact that we have sided with the devil against the forces of the angels.

    Nothing can change the fact that the American military may very well be asked to attack and kill Russian soldiers or civilians. When Russia was the Soviet Union, this was necessary and understandable inasmuch as the Soviet Union was atheistic and served the devil’s purposes. But now that America is atheistic and serves the devil’s purposes and the Russian Federation serves God’s purposes, there can be no excuse now before God for which side you choose.

    • So American Christian patriots shouldn’t defend their homeland because they vehemently disagree with those who currently hold the reins of American power?

      Should the monastics who are highlighted in “Everydsy Saints” – those who were battle-hardened WW2 heroes – should they not have fought to defend their country – the Soviet Union at the time – because they weren’t also militant atheists like the Soviet leaders?

      Should they have said “eff this country, I’m not defending her”? Would that have been more virtuous?

      Life’s full of gray areas. I don’t think God calls us to be militant ideologues. For men, he calls us to be strong and to love our families and our neighbors and our homes and to protect the borders & fortresses of where we live.

      God could be preparing thousands of American Christian patriots as we speak to run this country in 10 or 20 years. If they feel called to American military service, then so be it.

      • We have free will. I choose to defend the Constitution but not corrupt men of power that use young men to defend the interest of the banker elite.

      • Defend it from what? The only plausible enemies are internal. No doubt, if we faced a Hitler on our doorstep we should rise in defense. Alas, we are the Hitler on someone else’s doorstep and no amount of rationalization can change that.

        Do whatever you can live with, it’s none of my affair. I’ve made my choices. I just hope you’re not leading American cannon fodder to follow Ukrainian cannon fodder into the Russian meat grinder and the next life while lying to them that they’re defending America, or democracy, or whatever.

      • Antiochene Son says

        The Soviets faced actual invasion of their homeland. America just burns the world down to get rich. America hasn’t fought a defensive war since 1812, except for the South in the 1860s. It’s a world of difference.

        I’ll believe the institutional military is patriotic when they turn guns on the domestic threats to our freedom. Until then I’m afraid the common soldier is getting tricked into dying for moneyed interests and ideologies the oppositee of their own.

  5. Patriotism: Good or Evil?
    The government & the country are not the same thing. When our representatives refuse to follow the law of the land, the U.S. Constitution, is it patriotic to support the breaking of these laws? When government gets the country into endless wars, without Congressional declaration, is it patriotic to support this behavior? When they take our money, and shower it across the world, is it patriotic to support it? The government (and many people) would answer all of these questions with a resounding “Yes!” But are they right?

    • Fr. Peter Andronache says

      One quote that has stuck with me since I read it about thirty years ago is: “when the state sends the multitudes to their death, it always adopts the name of fatherland.” (My translation from Romanian of a line spoken by emperor Romulus in Friedrich Dûrrenmatt’s ‘Romulus the Great’)

  6. I don’t have anything at all against the military in the abstract or patriotism in general. It is the present facts which are the problem. Were Mexico or Canada to attack, then yes, by all means, defend the country. However, the fact that either scenario seems absurd really proves my point.

    You don’t defend the country by trying to conquer the rest of the world, which is the fool’s errand America is currently pursuing. When they’re done in the Ukraine, they’ll just turn on Taiwan and start up with China.

    America is delusional and so is fighting on its behalf at present. All that is accomplished is mass death and the spread of LGBT and feminism under the false banner of “human rights”. This has been my pet peeve against the blind patriots in evangelical Protestantism.

    God is not with America.

  7. Mark E. Fisus says

    Render to Caesar.

  8. George Michalopulos says

    Along the lines of military intel, it looks like we have this war’s version of The Pentagon Papers:

  9. This is a little off-topic but military news nonetheless:

    It looks like Russia wiped out a NATO command-and-control center just west of Kiev on March 8. It is estimated that 300 top NATO and Ukrainian officers were wiped out by Russian Kinzhal missiles.

    Curiously, no mention was made of this on ANY news outlet. Probably because the last thing the West wants is to inflame their populations. Maybe this is why the Pentagon leaked the classified docs? To prepare an exit ramp?

    • Nate Trost says

      News outlets aren’t going to report a fabricated event which didn’t happen.

      Also, news dropped yesterday that Teixeira started leaking far earlier than previously known, all the way back in February of last year, soon after the invasion.

      • Nate, the trouble with the phrase “news dropped yesterday…” is that “news” is now inherently untrustworthy.

        Also, the information that Teixeira peddled was no earlier than last month.

        Personally, I feel he’s a patsy, a conduit used by higher-ups who want to get the info out that the Ukraine proxy war is blowing up in our faces. This happened back in March of 1968, when Leslie Gelb (who was high up in the DoD) got Daniel Ellsberg to release the Pentagon Papers. Gen Wm Westmoreland wanted 200,000 additional soldiers to invade North Vietnam. Gelb used the Papers as a way of derailing Westmoreland.

        Later that week, LBJ, realizing that he’d been sandbagged, announced he wasn’t going to seek reelection.

        Personally, there’s no way I can believe that Teixeira had the means or access to initiate the original hack, as our intel is impermeable to someone so low-level.

        On the other hand, if he did, we’ve got worse problems than we can imagine.

        • Nate Trost says

          I disagree that the news is “inherently untrustworthy”. One can make assessments and qualitative judgements based on track record.

          There was no hacking involved. He had legitimate access which he used inappropriately. For better or worse the US military gives Top Secret clearances to 20 year olds. In theory there are protocols and procedures to prevent improper access and duplication from happening, but sometimes it’s fighting the last war. He didn’t start by posting pictures of stuff he printed in a SCIF and took home, he started by ego posting tidbits of classified intel he read back in February 2022. People went back and tracked his posting. I do understand how it could be hard for you to believe, but it should have been a bit easier after Manning and Snowden.

          Two quick items of note:

          Teixeira was leaking things that were juicy. Which included lots of things that had nothing to do with the war in Ukraine.

          A lot of the Ukraine related leaks were not flattering to Russia to put it mildly. To the point where Russia telegram channels crudely photoshopped figures to make them more favorable to Russia before republishing. Which was dumb, because people could find the earlier posted original versions. If someone only knows about the leaks from reading pro-Russian propaganda about it, they probably have a very distorted picture of what they contained and what they said!

          • Nate, as an E3, he had no access to this type of highly classified information. (If someone this young and experienced does have such access, then we’re essentially screwed. You might as well give out the nuclear codes to pimple-faced gamers and let them have fun with them.) This was for the eyes of people at the highest levels only, both military and civilian. Think of it: it presents a horrifying picture of the military situation at precisely the time when the civilian leaders of NATO is trying to paint a rosy picture for their populations.

            • Nate Trost says

              This is America, the nuclear codes go to the narcissistic former reality show host. The ‘pimple-faced gamer’ nerds in addition to being in intel shops, are sitting in the silo complexes waiting for the order to turn the key. Look, I’m not sure what to tell you other than there is a gap between how you believe the military ought to work, and how it actually does. Folks I know who were in/are in with clearances are mad it happened, not disbelieving it could have happened.

              I actually remember, some years ago on an internet forum I used to frequent, watching a young airman not much older than Teixeira end their career by sharing a bit too much detail about NTM from a job they really liked. Which was, uh, highly sensitive and classified. While I don’t think they went to jail, scuttlebutt was they ended up taking their own life in the fallout. There is very little new under the sun.

              • I suspect there is a good chance that the intel he shared was either invalid (on purpose) or outdated.

      • “News outlets aren’t going to report a fabricated event which didn’t happen.”

        Haha, that’s a good one. It wasn’t too long ago that mostly all major news outlets were more than happy to report that Russia somewhat stupidly bombed its own pipelines to Germany off the coast of a Danish island at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. And then the news outlets somehow completely forgot to investigate further what really happened….

        This is but one example of how news outlets are very happy to report lies and fabricated events. News outlets are not the “truth sleuths” that many of us grew up thinking they’re supposed to be.

        Christ is risen to all !

        • Then there was the Russia Collusion Hoax that crippled our government for 3 years at the cost of $30 million.

          That was a lie. But we did find out that Trump always had two scoops of ice cream while his guests only had one.

        • Nate Trost says

          Mostly all major news outlets you say? I would be most interested in links to NYT, WaPo, WSJ, et al articles claiming concrete attribution to Russia. The most recent reporting I saw, based on German criminal investigations, was pointing a figure towards ‘non-state’ Ukrainian actors, although not definitively.

          This actually provides a useful segue to how Hersh’s story was almost certainly nonsense, and the single anonymous source that made up much of it was lying. No one has been able to confirm or corroborate the details. And some of the details he did report were debunked.

    • I am not sure on the incident you report, George, but Pepe Escobar confirms it from sources in Brussels so at the least I take it seriously. It would explain some of the movement in the Western narrative since mid-March. Such a strike would be a clear message for NATO not to overtly intervene, which is the only plausible way that Ukraine could hold out. Western prospects in the Ukraine have become somewhat more muted than the mad ravings we are accustomed to hearing.

  10. Newsflash | Russia Repels The West

    [Video 16:27]

    …Now with more cowbell