Keeping Your Honor Clean
First to fight for rights and freedom / And to keep our honor clean…
These two phrases precede the final line of one of America’s most cherished anthems: the Marine Corps Hymn. Marines have earned their title, and they are proud to claim it.
Winning Our Nation’s Battles
Young men and women in the prime of their lives raise their hands to swear an oath of allegiance to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.
Marines are officers and gentlemen. They are the nation’s finest. They are the few, and the proud. They strive daily to uphold the Marine Corps values of honor, courage, and commitment, so help them God.
But it’s not easy staying clean in a dirty world. The uniforms are clean, but the mind is sometimes mired in Quigley-esque mud while ducking obstacles and avoiding snags on the obstacle course of life.
Marine are experts at fighting wars and winning battles. But the battles in the head and in the home can be as difficult as the fight overseas.
How do you maintain absolute honor in a world so heavily influenced by relativism?
Relativism is a concept with great utility. Einstein proved that matter, space, and time are co-relative, which has led to a lot of good. But relativism is not a universal truism. Relativism should not be a meta-narrative with which to explain everything that exists. Hitler’s application of social Darwinism was an outworking of moral relativism, which has led to a lot of evil.
How do you–and the Marines–navigate the murky waters of situational ethics, philosophical pluralism (the position that contradictory beliefs can be equally true), and political correctness?
In other words, how can Marines keep their honor absolutely clean in a world which denies absolutes?
The answer is to teach them that the rightness of their acts comes not only from their instant and willful obedience to orders, but exists intrinsically in the act itself. In other words, something is not right because someone says its right, or a culture decides it’s right. Rightness can only exist when there is an absolute standard of moral good from which to measure it. Take away the absolute moral standard, and you are back in Nazi Germany in 1944.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
These words from the Book of John reveal to us the absolute standard which has been in place from the beginning: the Word. The Word is the person of Jesus Christ, who was with God in the beginning. Through Jesus Christ was everything made. In him is life, and he is the light of all mankind.
Keeping Our Honor Clean
There is no doubt: Marines will charge the gun position. Marines will storm the compound. Marines will complete the mission.
Marines should be responsible with alcohol. Marines should never compromise another’s moral purity. Marines should think of others before themselves. Failure in these areas releases a speck of dust to settle upon our honor, and we have sworn an oath to keep our honor clean.
Is it time to clean house?
Photo Credit: LCpl Dan Hoasck, PD, http://www.marines.com/photos/-/photo-library/detail/browse/973543
About Jason B. Ladd
Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.