When I served on submarines, I was ordered by my Executive Officer (EO) to preach Protestant services. On submarines and places where there are no commissioned chaplains the job is open to volunteers or Lay Readers, or in my case, I held the position as a volunteer because I was in the “right place at the right time” and my Executive Officer ordered me to volunteer for the position. I was more than willing to play keyboards for the services but I balked at being ordered to be the preacher or chaplain.
In the Navy and other military services, one doesn’t have the option to balk at direct orders from those who outrank you, so he asked me to either find a Protestant Lay Reader or I was it. I’ve already documented my journey in my post “Submarines, G-d and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Needless to say, I find it hard to believe commissioned officers, who have the luxury of preaching to troops as their primary job, would give up their commission to serve with gays who are already serving in the military, and who have even served as one of their own, since it is already understood commissioned chaplains aren’t always available to serve in some environments, during the Cold War on submarines in the North Atlantic. By the way, I not only served as the preacher on my submarine, but Damage Control Petty Officer, Contact Evaluation Plotter during Battle Stations Missile and Torpedo and was a nuclear trained Yeoman who graduated from the Navy’s nuclear power school in Orlando, FL. It seems to me that if those denominations who are threatening to pull their commissioned chaplains from the ranks of the military really want to do this then maybe preaching to the troops should be accomplished by those Lay Readers who actually serve in other demanding responsibilities, hear the call of G-d, and do it because they feel the responsibility to preach to all who serve rather than answer to denominations who refuse to acknowledge gays of certain faiths, and even gay preachers called by G-d, who are already serving in their midst?
I have some news for those denominations who think they are going to take the ball and go home because “the gays” get to serve openly. It isn’t their ball to take and G-d will speak with or without them.