Women In Battle: U. S. Military Combat Change Spurs Debate Among Christians

Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy J. Fowler
Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy J. Fowler

U.S. Department of Defense’s decision to open all military combat positions to women has rekindled a theological and practical debate on the role of women in battle.

“It is no shock that a secular society that has embraced feminism and transgender ideology is now confused about gender roles and war,” Owen Strachan, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, told Baptist Press. “Men have no idea who they are today. Their grandfathers bled out on the beaches of Normandy to save civilization, but most men have no functional concept of masculine self-sacrifice. We men ask women to provide for us, to do all the work around the house, to disciple the kids and even to die for us. These are shameful days.”

In a Dec. 3 announcement, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said “there will be no exceptions” to permitting women to enter elite combat forces “as long as they qualify and meet the standards,” according to The Washington Post. About 220,000 jobs, some 10 percent of the American military, have been closed to females but will open Jan. 2. Among the previously closed jobs are positions in the Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces and Marine Corps infantry.

Carter’s decision capped a decades-long loosening of restrictions on women in the military, including a 2013 decision by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to lift the ban on women serving directly in ground combat units.

Gender roles debated

Strachan, who also serves as associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said Scripture teaches men should protect women and children — a principle with obvious application to military service.

“Christian men read our Bibles,” Strachan said in written comments. “We see godly warriors raised up by God to defend His people and honor His name. We don’t skip over the parts about David’s mighty men, Joshua, Solomon and men of martial virtue. These stories are burned onto our hearts. We see them reflected in the Western tradition. Our pulse moves faster when we hear of Churchill, De Gaulle, MacArthur and the men they led into battle against evil adversaries.

“Christian men know that war is terrible,” Strachan continued. “We do not ask for it; we confess with Augustine that war must be just to be fought. But we also know this: there is one thing … worse than dying — being a coward.”

On the opposing side of the debate, Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality, said Scripture and history both point to the qualification of women for combat service.

“Women’s military acumen dates back to biblical women like Jael who singlehandedly rescued Israel by skillfully subduing Sisera and pounding a tent peg into his head, Judges 4:21,” Haddad told BP in written comments. “While history is scant on details, women served in the Special Forces and even on the front lines in WWI and WWII, though they rarely received equal benefits or recognition for making the same sacrifices as their male peers.

“Like women missionaries who flooded the world’s most dangerous corners, often outnumbering men two to one, women have never shied away from danger when a higher goal might be attained,” she said. “The question should be: is the person qualified to serve, not what is their sex.”

Countries that allow females in combat roles, Haddad said, “have discovered that women not only attain the same qualifications as men. They also have distinct advantages” like the ability at times to “collaborate successfully with local women to identify and disarm hazards such as mines.”


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SOURCE: Baptist Press
David Roach