Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

“Temporary Leave”

My fiancé just joined the army and is going to basic training.  He is a member of the church of Christ, but there is only Catholic and Baptist services offered on Sundays, so he can't go to church during training.  Is this a sin?  He will miss about ten weeks of worship services.

Concerned Fiancé

Dear Concerned Fiancé,

His situation is difficult, but not unique.  There have been many soldiers that have served Christ and country.  Cornelius the centurion was the first Gentile convert (Acts 10:1), soldiers asked John the Baptist how to be faithful (Lk 3:14), and another centurion humbly sought Christ’s help (Matt 8:9).  So take courage, you and your fiancé are not alone in your dilemma.

We consider his situation to be a 2 Cor 8:11 case.  He is accountable for what he is able to do.  If he is out in the middle of the deserts of Iraq, he is physically unable to make it to worship services.  Therefore, he is not condemned for that which he cannot do.  An analogous situation would be a mute Christian; he is commanded to confess Christ with his lips (Rom 10:9), but nobody expects a mute man to do this because he physically unable.  If your fiancé is able to make it to services – DO IT.  If he can’t attend, he should do what he can – pray (1 Thess 5:17) and study (2 Tim 2:15) on his own.  We recommend that he ask some christians that are veterans of the military for tips and advice on what they did to make it through those times where they were unable to make it to services.