What Makes us Worse than an Unbeliever? - The Warrior's Journey®

What Makes us Worse than an Unbeliever?

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8) 

Yes, there are souls to win, battles to fight, and kingdoms to conquer. But never at the expense of our families. I know this is a painful subject for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have families of their own. They’re required to leave their spouse and children again and again. It’s the most painful thing they do. And it’s unnatural. God didn’t create us to be repeatedly uprooted from our families. “A man shall cleave to his wife” is what God said in the Scripture (Genesis 2:24). Even the Old Testament Law gave exemptions from military duty for couples who were recently married – so that a husband might please his wife and start a family (Deuteronomy 24:5). 

Yet, there are some responsibilities so critical to our nation’s survival, that they demand family separations. One of them, out of necessity, is when we leave our families to fight our nation’s wars. To those who make this sacrifice, these words of Jesus are particularly meaningful.  “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife …  or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God who shall not receive many times as much at this present time and in the age to come, eternal life” (Luke 18:29-30). God is mindful your sacrifices and He promises to reward you for them all. 

But even in our separations from family, due to war, deployment, or overseas assignments, the Bible never excuses us from providing for our family’s needs. If we do not care for our family, love them, and stand up for them, then who will? We are the only advocate our spouse and children have. Besides this, God has placed them in our lives as our foremost responsibility. Look at Jesus. Even as He was dying on the cross and purchasing humanity’s redemption, what did He pause to do? Jesus took time to ensure His mother was going to be cared for by His disciple John (John 19:26-27).   

I realize there is institutional pressure upon the Warrior to place his family on the back burner. But, according to the apostle Paul, if we neglect our family and fail to provide for them, we have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever. And taking care of our family’s needs includes caring for their emotional needs as well. It requires us to nurture our relationships with them and to make the most of our off duty time to strengthen the bonds between us. Above all, caring for our families requires us to pray for them and to care for their spiritual needs. All fathers and husbands need to realize that God has appointed them as the spiritual leader of their home. Leading one’s family in Bible reading and prayer is a major part of this. 


  • How can a serviceman stay active in his family’s life during family separations? 
  • What life changes does a Warrior need to make when he goes from being single to being married (fewer selfish purchases, less time gaming, more family time)? 
  • You are the only advocate your family has. Be there for them. 

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