The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Steven Roberston, ELCA pastor and father, Gustavus Adolphus, St. Paul, Minn.

While my son, Thomas, is away at the Great Lakes Naval Academy near Chicago, training to be a medical corpsman, his wife and baby daughter live with my wife, Jane, and me.

I constantly struggle to balance what I believe Jesus would ask us to seriously look at and my feelings of outrage when the Twin Towers were attacked in 2001 as a direct attack against the way of life we enjoy. I've been reading with interest St. Augustine's "just war" theory and a variety of opinions on what that means.

It frustrates me when a person of faith questions my son's faith or involvement with the military. I'm proud of my son. He is deeply faithful yet understands that Lutherans never have and never will be pacifists. As Ecclesiastes writes so succinctly, there is a time for everything. And yet I'm personally opposed to the rattling of our sabers with Iraq. This topic creates tension because as a military man, my son needs to support his commanding officers and, ultimately, the U.S. president.

My greatest stress is knowing that parents like me have received word that the child they love has been killed in action. What helps me endure the many unknowns is daily prayer to the same God to whom the people of Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan also pray. Prayer gives me a deep sense of peace. I ask God to be with my son, as well as the sons and daughters of Abraham in the Jewish and Islamic traditions.

Our congregation has been a source of strength. We are blessed to be in a place where congregants genuinely pray with us and our son, instead of for us and my son.


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February issue


Embracing diversity