The Crime of Conviction

colson2Our nation’s top military officer, a veteran decorated with no less than forty-eight military awards and a very distinguished career, made a startling revelation this week: He has moral conviction. The world gasps, hurls insults, and demands an apology. How dare one of the top leaders of our land have a moral belief and share it when questioned! But that’s exactly what happened this week when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the first Marine general ever to hold that position—General Peter Pace, commented in a wide-ranging interview with the Chicago Tribune, “My upbringing is such that I believe that there are certain things, certain types of conduct that are immoral. I believe that military members who sleep with other military members’ wives are immoral in their conduct, and that we should not tolerate that.” But then Pace went on to tell the Tribune, “I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts.” Well, stop the presses. Of course, all that the radio, news, and television outlets have focused on since General Pace’s comments are his remarks on homosexuality. Never mind that he puts immorality of all kinds on equal footing. General Pace went on to say in the interview, “I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.” While the world should be applauding a man who proposes that one of the most important institutions in our country should have moral integrity, instead we hammer him for having a conviction. But I believe this goes far beyond the whole question of homosexuals in the military and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. This cuts to the core of the question of whether anyone in public office is free to speak his deepest religious or moral convictions. The Constitution says there will be no religious test for office, and yet we are applying one. We are basically saying that if you are the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, you are not allowed to express your moral or religious views—especially on matters of sexual preference and behavior. This is another sign that we live in an age that no longer believes in objective truth or a moral order. Moral relativism is the rule, and personal preference trumps all. And government is there to ensure that no one place any restraint on the pursuit of our own desires. I have long said that C. S. Lewis was prophetic when in 1943 he wrote about the irony of our education system, saying, “Such is the tragicomedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. . . . In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” Ironic that today, the head of our Joint Chiefs of Staff argues that the military should have consistent policies of moral integrity, and the world demands an apology. Maybe it is time to lock him up: General Pace is guilty. He has committed the intolerable crime of our day: He has stated his conviction in a value-free society that respects only so-called “tolerance.” As for me, well, General Pace makes me proud that I am a former Marine.  
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For Further Reading and Information
Aamer Madhani, “Top General Calls Homosexuality ‘Immoral’,” Chicago Tribune, 12 March 2007. William Neikirk, “Pace: Wrong to Share My Views,” The Swamp (Chicago Tribune blog), 13 March 2007. Jill Zuckman, “Warner Hits Pace on Gay Remarks,” The Swamp (Chicago Tribune blog), 13 March 2007. C. W. Nevius, “The Truth Dawns on Gen. Peter Pace. But Too Late,” San Francisco Chronicle blog, 14 March 2007. Glenn Thrush, “Clinton Mum on Pace’s Stand on Gays,” Newsday, 14 March 2007. William Neikirk and Karoun Demirjian, “General Says He Regrets Remarks on Gays,” Los AngelesTimes, 14 March 2007. BreakPoint Commentary No. 070302, “A Tale of Two Servants: Amazing Grace and Breach.” BreakPoint Commentary No. 031024, “Ordered Liberty: Remembering Russell Kirk.” Charles Colson, “God and Caesar: Does Religion Belong in Public Life?” speech, 13 November 2000. C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (1943). Read chapter one, “Men without Chests.” Greg Koukl, “The Myth of Tolerance: Not All Views Are Equal,” BreakPoint WorldView, December 2003.


Chuck Colson


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