As dads, we have a spiritual and moral responsibility to teach our children right from wrong. We look for opportunities to turn life events into teaching moments. Sometimes that might require a lecture or strong admonition when they get off course. But what our daughters and sons get from years of preaching isn’t as rich as what they learn when they see how we respond in the midst of a crisis of conviction. It’s in those times that theoretical truths become living realities.
Last week, 14-year-old James Modder was a frontline witness to one of those times where life and truth collide on the battlefield of conviction. It was the day his father, Chaplain Wes Modder was relieved of his duties. James went with his dad to help him remove his personal effects from his chaplain’s office. That day and the preceding months must have been a hard time for father, son, and the whole family.
Back in December, Chaplain Modder was hit with a number of grievances related to his private counseling sessions with sailors. The essence of the complaints centered on Modder’s biblical conviction on matters related to sexuality, marriage, and gender roles. The Assemblies of God chaplain counsels based on standards from the Word of God, which has been increasingly running afoul of military policies on gender and sexual inclusion.
Chaplain Modder admits that in one-on-one counseling and pastoral care sessions that he expressed his beliefs that “sexual acts outside of marriage are contrary to biblical teaching; and homosexual behavior is contrary to biblical teaching; and homosexual orientation or temptation, as distinct from conduct, is not sin.”
And now, he has been temporarily relieved of his duties, and the Navy has asked that he be barred from promotion, fired as chaplain, and brought before a board of inquiry, where he could face expulsion from the Navy.
Chaplain Modder’s ministry is not just something that he came by on his own. He is the recipient of a rich legacy of Christian service that included his grandparents and his great grandfather, all missionaries to India. And given what his family is seeing now, that legacy is poised to pass on to the five Modder children, including James, the only son. Wes Modder is passing along the faith.
As Wes Modder was driving away from cleaning out his office, his son told him about numerous officers who had privately spoken to the son that afternoon. “They told my son that ‘you can be proud of your father because he’s keeping the faith,'” Modder said. “The whole command knows that Chaplain Modder is keeping the faith.”
Chaplain Modder will teach his son many things over the years. But showing that nothing—even your job—is more important than your faith? That’s a lesson that will last a lifetime.
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