December 7, 2015

Sisters-in-Arms: women in combat

by Clint Archer

lady soldierNews from America fascinates me. Living in South Africa affords me a vantage point of detachment from local US news. But I nearly choked on my newsfeed last week when I heard President Barack Obama commend the Pentagon for opening all combat military positions to women. So now my two little girls, who are US citizens, will one day in all likelihood be required to register for the draft. (If you don’t think that’s the next station this equality train is heading for, you’re not following its trajectory closely enough; see this New York Times article on drafting women)

Objections to the announcement that we will soon have lady SEALs à la GI Jane have focused mostly on pragmatics and physiology. For example studies have irrefutably proven that unit cohesion will be diminished, and that male platoons have 69% more success in completing combat tasks than their co-ed counterparts, and that the 40% less upper body muscle mass of women will impede their ability to drag 200 lb wounded men from a burning tank, etc, etc, etc.

The problem with that reasoning is this: we all know that some women can physically outperform some men. Anyone who has visited a Crossfit box knows that. I know gals who can clean & jerk not only their own bodyweight, but mine too.

The real issue isn’t can a woman cope with combat, but should she have to? Women can and do competently step in if and when men neglect their duties. But do we really want to make this the norm rather than a sad necessary exception?

And only in this crazy egalitarian culture can it be considered an honor and privilege for women to suffer and die to keep men safe. I’m reminded of comments I read of a survivor of the Titanic disaster who saw James Cameron’s movie. The one inaccuracy he found offensive was the scene where the crew fired warning shots to prevent men from scrambling into life rafts before women and children. The eyewitness reminisced how men used to gallantly accept their duty to die to keep women safe; and those women understood that chivalry wasn’t condescending, but honoring.Crossfit lady

Students of African warfare can testify that even elementary school aged children can make effective warriors in rebel armies. Again, the question is not “Can kids be trained to kill?” but “What kind of people would encourage them to do so?”

I find it to be a quirky irony that the commander-in-chief of the US arsenal on whose watch this dependence on women in combat is occurring, shares a name with the only military leader in the Bible who refused to fight without a woman beside him. In Judges 4 a sheepish Barak agrees to fight the Lord’s enemies on one condition: that Deborah escorts him into battle.

Judges 4:8 Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” Not his manliest moment.

Deborah agrees to risk her neck on the frontlines, but appends to Barak’s condition a prophetic promise that he would get zero credit for the victory. All credit would go to a girl.

The honor of delivering Israel fell to the not-so-desperate housewife of Heber, a lady named Jael. She put a woman’s touch on the situation and drove home the point that women can be useful in war. Without any military training, armed with milk, cookies, and a mallet Jael used her tent-pitching skills to assassinate the enemy general.

This account, however, is not a biblical justification for us sending our daughters to sniper school.

The reason for Barak’s request didn’t belie a need for a woman’s military prowess, but rather affirmed a dependence on God’s guidance. Deborah was the prophetess through whom the Lord’s word was coming to Israel (Judges 4:4-5).

Rosie in camoAnd Jael gets the glory because her husband had forged a traitorous pact with Israel’s enemy and immigrated to behind enemy lines. She submitted to her knucklehead husband and God honored her submission by using her as the lynchpin of his plan to deliver Israel from Sisera. Here a man had abandoned his responsibility and a woman stepped in.

So, it’s not that women can’t do the job, it’s that they only need to when men don’t do it for them. Deborah was an exception—the only female judge—not the rule. In the same way, there are women who are stronger, fitter, and more suitable for combat than some men.

But does this mean we should shunt them into military service while there is no shortage of male recruits?

I hope and pray that some sort of sanity returns to the Pentagon before my precious little girls grow up to be sisters-in-arms.

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • Amen bro.

    • Thanks for reading.

      • Of course, brother! Persistent edification from you and the entire blog authorship keeps me reading!

        I was actually thinking this morning about a “pastor” who argued with me once about a female teaching men at his church.

        I was thinking that it was the height of irony that he would stand up and boldly argue for it. Seemed semi related to your post.

  • Fibber MaGee

    Was Deborah in a combat role? Did she engage in physical combat with the men?

    • I’m not sure the text says, but Barak wanted her with him in the battle rather than safe at home.

  • Guest

    “men used to gallantly accept their duty to die to keep women safe; and those women understood that chivalry wasn’t condescending, but honoring”

    Was it Chuck Swindoll who years ago encountered a woman who was offended when he held the door for her. She snarled, “are you doing that because I’m a woman?” To which he graciously responded, “No madam, I’m doing this because I’m a gentleman.

    These are sad days and our world is upside down.

  • Thisisridiculous

    I should probably keep my mouth shut, but this “article” was so condescending that I just have to speak.
    Firstly, you showcase the very veiled prejudiced rhetoric that is used to hide one’s racism or dissent (I don’t know you, so I will not say which one it is) when referring to the president by his first name. You would be lying if you say you would do it for any other president the US has ever had. It’s a way for you to show that you don’t like him and that he doesn’t represent you, and that is both sad and troubling.
    You also imply that things are just now changing from the status quo and the way things should be. Perhaps you are just not aware of it, or it would make you comfortable to ignore it, but women have been a presence in combat, successfully I might add, for a very long time now. Probably less so and more recently in the United States, but across the globe there are examples of exceptional women, but also of ordinary women who played a huge role in resistance and subversion for the good of their respective countries. You mention how sad it is that current society is changing the role of women, but I would encourage you to think about the potential that women have, their capabilities, and even their own agency and desires to have an active role in the things they love. It is not distressing to women to have the option to take action and it does not belittle men in the least.

    • Kay

      You need to read the article again. When referring to the US President, Clint addresses him as President Barak Obama, and elsewhere as the commander-in-chief. How is that racism or dissent? The other four times in the article when the name Barak is mentioned, it’s always referring to Barak in the book of Judges, chapter 4.

      • Guest

        Too funny!

        6 Now she sent and summoned BARAK the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali, and said to him… Then BARAK said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 BARAK called Zebulun and Naphtali together to Kedesh, and ten thousand men went up ]with him; Deborah also went up with him. Judges 4:4-10

        • President Obama’s first name is spelled differently anyway: Barack, not Barak.

          • LHBY

            The spelling in English is immaterial. The word is a Semitic word and it means blessing. The names are the same.

    • And it shouldn’t go without saying: Even if Clint was referring to Obama by his first name, to suggest that that would have had anything to do with racism is a demonstration of how incapable this petulant, perennially-offended generation is of rational thought. That is ridiculous.

      • FYI, since my wife is American and I’m South African, my kids are technically African-American. 🙂

    • Jane Hildebrand

      Just to clarify, in no way did Clint say that women were not capable, but that they should not be forced to serve in this way (via draft). I for one agree.

      • Right. It’s the draft that scares me, not strong ladies. As we say in Crossfit: “strong women only intimidate weak men.”

    • Thisisridiculous

      I misread the article when I referred to my first point, and for that I apologize. Egg on my face. That said, I do still stand by my second point. Sorry for the error. I take it back.

      • We all skim blog posts. You can always make it up to me by calling me Dr. Archer. 🙂

        • Jane Hildebrand

          Since you’re in crossfit, we should refer to you as “The Archenator.” 🙂

        • Lynn B.

          Dr., Sir: I hope she knows you are joking!

    • I guess my main point was that woman absolutely *can* play a huge role; it’s just that they shouldn’t have to if they don’t want to. The draft complicates that distinction.

  • Karl Heitman

    I had a LOL moment when I read your opening statement because when I first read the title and then saw it was written by a South African, I thought, “How fascinating that a South African pastor wants to weigh in on an American issue.” 😉

    I have served Uncle Same for over 12 years (now as a chaplain), including a looooong deployment to the Middle East as an Infantryman. So, I must say, that a woman’s PHYSICAL capability is most certainly, and most definitely an issue. While there are some ladies who can bench more than you and I combined, it is by far the exception. When I was in the infantry, I was 20 years old and in the best shape of my life. I was 190+ lbs. soaking wet. In combat, we’d dawn a vest full of ammo (and other explosive devices) weighing, at a minimum, 30-40 lbs. Then there’s the weapon(s) you’re assigned to carry; either a rifle or machine gun. Now consider the 100 degree plus temp. I promise you: the average fit male soldier really struggled to buddy carry me in training…and I was the average size. Some men were much heavier than me. All that said, the average woman cannot simply physically hack it. It’s just basic physiology. The insertion of women in the infantry doesn’t further diminish the culture of chivalry; it will put in danger the lives of thousands of men. Period.

    • Jane Hildebrand

      Karl, thank you for serving in our military and for sharing these facts with us. Personally, the longer I live the more grace and comfort I find in the differences with which God has designed us.

      • Karl Heitman

        Amen. You’re very welcome, sister. God DID know what He was doing when He created both men and women imago Dei. 🙂

    • KPM

      Exactly!

      In the mountains of Afghanistan in the middle of winter, we had to sleep 2 guys to a sleeping bag in order to avoid dying in the middle of the night.

      How is this fair to the men who are sleeping in the same sleeping bag in the snow covered mountains of Afghanistan? It could put both the men and women in a very compromising situation. An attractive young girl, an attractive young guy, same sleeping bag, miles from home…

      Pregnancies in combat zones are already a serious issue in the military. It’s not like men and women cease being men and women when they put on a uniform. Guys were being kicked out of the Army when we were in Iraq because they were fooling around with female soldiers and then circulating the videos. I was our platoon RTO and I was told by our platoon sergeant not to open or circulate certain videos that were being sent on the encrypted web. Guys were literally losing their careers over it.

      Women in combat zones, women in combat units, women in the military in practically any situation just creates a million messes, but we’re not allowed to be honest about that. Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!

      • Sir Aaron

        Put men and women in the prime of their sexual reproductive years together in close quarters under stressful conditions for days at a time….what could go wrong?

    • Sir Aaron

      Many of us civilians understand this actually, since we see the same thing in law enforcement, firefighting, and other jobs that have physical requirements. I’ve actually seen attempts to go to job based physical requirements but they inevitably fail because they become discriminatory to women. Obviously, if a job requires you to lift a 50lb box, there is no man that can’t do it but there will be a lot of women who cannot.

  • tovlogos

    I’m with you 100% on this one, Clint.

    “…But does this mean we should shunt them into military service while there is no shortage of male recruits?”

    No, actually, it doesn’t.
    When I look at passages such as Luke 8:3, “…Mary who was called Magdalene…and Joanna…and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their (Jesus and the disciples) support out of their private means.” Women have have been here from the beginning and sweat it out with us in ways God found appropriate; and their hands are full, without having to subject themselves in brutal combat — so against their nature — unlike men. I see requiring women to take a man’s place in combat, blatant disrespect for God’s design.
    Or when I look at the panoramic scope of biblical history, I understand that time changes but God does not.
    And in view of that fact, neither has God’s design for males and females; neither has their been any change in mankind’s depravity; therefore it is fitting for Jesus to ask the rhetorical question: “…(W)hen the Son of Man comes (the second time), will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).
    Compared to times past, today I have seen female ministers battling it out with their minister husbands for control of the church they oversee. When asked why Jesus didn’t have any female disciples, the answer I often hear is that “time” has changed.

  • Chaylon

    Yes, and Deborah getting the credit was seen as a judgement against Barak. Good article! It’s an American shame if we send our daughters into combat.

    • HFK

      I am hesitant to say that Deborah gets the credit for the victory. I always figured Deborah’s rebuke in Judges refers to his immediate glory among men. However, in Hebrews 11:32 Barak is referred to as one of the faithful followers of God- Barak NOT Deborahor Jael!

      And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.

    • Jane Hildebrand

      Wait, I don’t see how Deborah getting the credit was a judgement against Barak. Deborah was a prophetess, chosen by God. She was the one who summoned Barak with the instructions that God gave her on how to proceed. I don’t believe there is any indication in those passages that says that God chose Deborah to shame Barak, or that God’s hands were tied in that there were no men available, so He had to choose a woman. Barak asked Deborah to accompany him because God chose to speak through her, not because he was unmanly. While I agree completely with the above article, I don’t believe the story of Deborah should be interpreted as saying that God only chooses women when men won’t step up.

    • Actally the gal who got credit instead of Barak was Jael. Deborah makes this clear in her song in Judges 5.

      • Chaylon

        Your all three correct, I stand corrected. I was keying off of my recollection of 4:9 where Deborah says “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”
        What I should have said is that “a woman” in that context suggests it was a shame or rebuke towards Barak, who should have done it himself. Deborah was speaking as a prophet there. One has to ask the question, what did she (God speaking through her) mean by “a woman” other than shame for Barak. Not only is Barak not to receive glory in the action, but the battle glory will go to “a woman”.
        I take it as at least in part, a rebuke to the man Barak, and by extension, men today, who would abdicate their responsibility.

        • Jane Hildebrand

          I understand what you are saying, but consider that in context it appears that Deborah had already been judging Israel over a 20 year period while Israel was being oppressed by a Canaanite king. When Israel cried out to God for help, God chose Deborah to instruct Barak on how to proceed. In fact in Judges 5:7 it says that life in Israel had ceased until “Deborah arose as a mother in Israel.” In other words, this was a woman who had a long standing reputation of wisdom and faithfulness and I believe Barak’s confidence in her was a testimony to that. In fact, if you read the entire text, you will even see that God used Deborah to instruct the armies when to proceed into battle (Judges 4:14).

          All that to say, again, I don’t believe this was a situation where men were abdicating their responsibility so God had to shame them by using a woman. I believe Deborah had proven herself as a faithful and wise judge in Israel and therefore God chose to bring victory through her. Sounds a lot like something Jesus would do.

          • Chaylon

            Here is my foundation Jane. Like the book of Acts, the book of Judges is not normative. A dark period is chronicled. Everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes. God never raises up women to places of leadership in the OT except in this instance. In the NT, we are explicitly told not to place women in leading roles. I infer from all this that God did use a woman as a rebuke to the nation. This is to take nothing away from Deborah who was a Godly and true and noble judge. We can see the magnificent strength in women today and throughout history who have risen to the occasion when none other would. It is also a testament to Gods creative genius that he made such a beautiful creature as woman who also is capable of enormous responsibility. But He has given roles and, in the main, a physiology to match.

          • Lynn B.

            Chaylon: Would you clarify your meaning in this statement please, ” In the NT, we are explicitly told not to place women in leading roles.”

          • Chaylon

            Lynn, I was referring to the Church, not the civil realm. I have argued for positions of the Diaconate. But I see some wiggle room. Where I see no argument is in two positions. First, in the homes of Church Members: The husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church. Second, in the office of Elder. (You could add an activity from 1 Tim. 2:12, that of teaching.)

          • Lynn B.

            Chaylon: I agree that the Word gives clear instruction on church leadership and women teaching men in the church. I also believe strongly in biblical male headship in the home. I do however take issue with those who extrapolate from those passages that women cannot be in leadership in any capacity.

            It was said that Margaret Thatcher was head of state and her husband was head of their home and I can see no biblical argument against that. At the same time although I believe that Carly Fiorina is smart, articulate, and wise I do prefer her less for president because she is a woman. But my personal preference does not a biblical mandate make. I certainly would vote for Carly over say, oh I don’t know, Donald Trump!

            At the same time, because the Bible does not speak directly to something such as women in combat certainly does not mean we should not apply common sense.

            One issue in these matters that I believe is generally missed is that women have a lot to offer and the 1950s housewife that we tend to look to as the “idea” really many times put her gifts on ice and contributed to the quest for women to compete with men. There are many military roles where women do not compromise the mission should a woman want to pursue that as a career and the list of possibilities is endless in other fields.

            While I am a strong supporter of stay at home moms, home schooling, and all that, at the same time I am mindful that at no time in history has the homemaker had so many “helps” in terms of electronics, so many foods in the marketplace, etc. If any given couple determines that some type of outside employment is desirable I cannot see that disallowed in scripture and doubly so in Proverbs 31.

            I could write more but I will resist that temptation.

          • Lynn B.

            An addendum to what I just wrote… Although I tend to think and speak in terms of the married woman the career/ministry possibilities for the single woman or the married woman without children are even greater still. The Bill Gothard model of no woman outside the home to my mind was and is an unbiblical travesty.

          • Chaylon

            Lynn, I agree with everything that you said with the possible exception of women in combat. Although even there I believe you and I would agree based on everything you have said. For me, women in combat is an abomination. This would include women serving on battleships or submarines. Or for that matter women flying combat airplanes. Having said that, I am proud of the American woman’s contribution to our Armed Forces where they serve in support roles. And simply by virtue of the sacrifice that they have made, I respect American women who have served in our military at the cost of life or limb. There are many reasons extra biblical for my position relating to combat readiness and Spartan efficiency. But the disregard of th God-given, scriptural gift of sexual rolls is the source of my greatest grief regarding this issue.

            Margaret Thatcher was one of the greatest women of the 20th Century.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Well, when you put it that way. 🙂

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  • KPM

    This is sad, indeed! I would actually argue that women can’t do the job. In Afghanistan, we had to quietly scale a wall in the middle of the night to raid a home. At Point Du Hoc, Army Rangers climbed the cliffs to take out the turret guns and save the lives of thousands of American soldiers.

    Women in Marine Corps Boot Camp cannot even do 3 pull-ups! They argue that pull-ups are an irrelevant test of strength for combat readiness. Well, in actual combat there are instances where one NEEDS to be able to pull his own body weight (plus a hundred pounds of gear) up over a wall or up the side of a cliff. If you can’t even do one pull-up, how the heck are you going to climb over a wall with a machine gun strapped to your side, 30 pounds of belt fed ammo, and a 20 pound bullet proof vest?

    On a training objective one time, I had to buddy carry PFC Tutor, a 200 pound man with 100 pounds of gear, because the NCOs running the training exercise decided that he was KIA. I was 175 pounds and in the best shape of my life at the time. I couldn’t carry Tutor out of there on my own. I needed help. How in the world would a 115 pound female with muscles that are, by nature, less dense and less strong, pickup Tutor and carry him out of there? Women on the battlefield are a liability. That take men away from the fight.

    In the Army Reserves, we had a very nice young Vietnamese girl in our unit. Personally, no problem with her. The one time we went out into the field however, it was a disaster! She couldn’t even close the back door of the Humvee by herself!

    Sure, the women of the WNBA or the Olympic weight lifting team probably have the muscular strength of our men in uniform, but I don’t see those women joining the military. Women with that kind of strength are incredibly rare, and if women had to meet the same standards as men, you would probably only have one in a thousand actually make it. The standards are already lower for them, and they are going to have to compromise the standards even further because this is going to become a “quota” driven thing.

    I saw it when I was trying out to be a police officer in LA County. I couldn’t pass the background check, so I was turned away. However, they told us that they HAD to send a female through the academy to fill a quota. There were only 5 spots for the academy with that particular department. Despite that fact that all 4 of the girls trying out were slower and weaker than practically all 45 of the men, they still had to pick one of the girls to send through the academy.

    When it comes time to wrestle a criminal to the ground, I’m sure her partners will be grateful that they’ve got a 5’3″ Latina on their side rather than a 6′ adult male.

  • Heather

    Physical strength aside, what about the emotional strength and fortitude needed to be a soldier? Do most women really have that? I’ve never met the kind of woman that could kill another person. I know that I could never kill another person. Even if it was a terrorist, I just can’t imagine actually taking another person’s life…I’d rather die first than do that. I just don’t know what I’d do if I was forced to be in a situation like that…

    …praying for our soldiers.

    • Karl Heitman

      That’s a great question, but I’m afraid that would open up a another can of worms. I would guess that many would argue a some women *could* take a life, since Jael was willing to take matters into her own hands in an ultra violent way (Judg. 4:21). That said, you bring up a valid point. For a few years of her life, my mom was a corrections officer at a prison for men…and so was my uncle. I can tell you that she suffered much more mental and emotional trauma than my uncle did. Biblically, this issue would also depend on how one interprets 1 Peter 3:7.

      • Lynn B.

        Karl: Women C.O.s in men’s prisons is one of the most insane ideas to come down the pike and not just because of the “mental and emotional” trauma to the women. I am not sure how 1Peter 3:7 speaks to the matter, but a little common sense would go a long way.

      • Heather

        It’s a can worth opening 😉

    • Still Waters

      I think they would. Women played a tremendous supporting role in WWII. On more than one occasion, that role had to be extended to combat. This is a fascinating story of one of the female agents who led the French Resistance: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-two/resistance-movements/special-operations-executive/pearl-witherington/

      • Heather

        Right, women did play a tremendous role in WWII, and not in a supporting role, but in a leading role of keeping the Nation running when the men were away. I think that was equally as important as the men fighting. It took a high quality of strength and fortitude for those women to do what they did. Thus, the reason they are called the “Greatest Generation”! I have tremendous respect for those men and women.
        When a human, whether man or woman, is faced with a situation where they may need to kill another human in order to protect their loved one, I’m sure he/she will find tremendous strength and courage to do it (or maybe not?), and perhaps it will surprise them because they didn’t know they had it in them to do that. I would never underestimate the strength of the human spirit to do things we thought we never could. I just believe (and call me a pessimist, but I call myself a realist), that generally speaking, women don’t have that deep fortitude, strength, and focus to kill and harm over and over and over again, like a soldier needs to have.
        She may find herself dropped in the middle of a war and needing to survive, provide for, and protect her family, and in that situation she may be surprised to find she has a deep fortitude, strength, and focus within herself to do just that.
        Strength comes in many different forms. There is nothing shameful about a women not being capable of being a combat soldier, because her unique strength can be used, more effectively, in different ways to support a war effort, like what we saw from those brave women in WWII.

        • Lynn B.

          Great point Jane, what we may do once when required is different from what we do daily. I watched “The Last of the Mohicans” recently, and throughout this discussion, it has been on my mind that Cora cozied right up to the man she loved and shot the enemy – but just now, it occurs to me although she was a strong woman the shooting happened only once.

  • Dennis LeBlanc

    Your points well taken. I recently did a study in Judges and Deborah stepped in because Barak needed her to hold his hand in battle.

    We need to protect our women & children. Women now serve on our submarines, close quarters is not a good idea. Women in the front lines puts our military at a tremendous liability.

  • Still Waters

    This is a fascinating discussion. I’m not necessarily in favour of women in combat. However, there does need to be a distinction made between the cultural understanding of men and women and what the Bible says about men and women. I Peter 3 calls for men to live with their wives with understanding, giving honour to them as the weaker vessels. Too often, the “weaker vessel” becomes a way of reducing, even belittling what women do. Yet, Proverbs 31 described the virtuous woman, saying, “Strength and honour are her clothing”. I do not think Peter meant women were physically inferior, rather, their roles made them vulnerable. This can especially be seen when a woman is pregnant. There is nothing weak about a woman carrying around another human being and nurturing it – but the tremendous toll it takes on them renders them in need of help and more importantly, understanding.

    The question was raised whether women actually had the ability to kill. The answer to that is, yes, they do. It is true that women are created to be the nurturers. But what Deborah and Jael did is not necessarily antithetical to that role. Deborah is described as a mother in Israel. What does a mother do? Defend her children. It is interesting to observe through history, that often when a woman ruled, as in the case of Elizabeth I, those who served her began to regard her in the role of the country’s mother. It is almost a cliché to use the term “Mama Bear”, but when women have to fight, they are fierce and deadly. When Germany invaded Russia, women had to take up arms to defend their country, and one female Russian sniper in that war, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, still holds the record with 309 kills. There is something to be said for allowing, especially in a time of war, women to learn how to defend themselves in case of invasion.

  • Jane Hildebrand

    I believe several of our brothers here have made an equally important point besides the limitations that women have physically to serve in the military. And that is the danger women are in from a sexual standpoint. I learned that more than 70 members of the US Military encounter coerced and abusive sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault or are raped every day. That’s three every hour. That is devastating.

    • Still Waters

      There is one problem with using such a statistic to argue against women in the military. It seems to argue that men are animals, incapable of restraining their baser instincts when they are around women. How can we trust men who apparently cannot control themselves to protect our safety?

      • Jane Hildebrand

        I believe the statistic speaks for itself, and rather than argue against men’s inability to control themselves, it should help us to see that men would be better off protecting our safety without the presence of women.

        • Still Waters

          I’m not necessarily arguing for women in the military. However, saying that because such a high rape rate occurs, women shouldn’t be in the military, is to blame the women for being there, rather than the men who apparently cannot control themselves. It is like blaming Tamar for going and seeing Ammon, rather than blaming Ammon for his lust.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            The blame is that we live in a fallen world. As a woman, there are places and positions I will not put myself in. I take precautions on how I dress and converse with men. I have learned that even a smile can be viewed as an invitation. I long for the day that it is different, but for now self control is not a virtue of our times and women need to make decisions based on whether they would be put in danger. I wish it were different, but it isn’t.

          • Still Waters

            There should be higher standard. A military that rapes its own is a military that will rape the country it is quartered in or advances into. For too long, rape by soldiers in occupied countries has been winked at as soldiers being soldiers. It is a bitter irony when armed forces wreak terror on the women of the country that they are supposed to be bringing peace and liberation to. Furthermore, in a time of war such as occurred during WWII, women were in the armed forces, and they worked very closely with the men in a supporting role. If women cannot trust men in the military during a time of peace, how are they going to be able to trust them when contact is unavoidable?

          • Jane Hildebrand

            I agree.

  • Jane Hildebrand

    Okay, here’s a theory that I know I will get push back on, but I’d love to hear your thoughts…

    Anyway, I read of a study where they offered a Christian men’s event with an attractive female speaker. When she was done they surveyed the men, asking them to be honest with what they were thinking while she was delivering her message. While few could elaborate on her message content, they did notice that she was very attractive, they noticed what she was wearing, they admitted to checking her hand for a wedding ring and wondered what hotel she was staying at. They were being honest. She was attractive and they were distracted.

    Now please don’t misunderstand, I fully understand and accept and embrace our roles in the church and understand the order of creation, the picture of Christ and His bride and the subsequent model of submission. I am fully on board with that! But given that God has certainly gifted women to teach and to lead, could it be that another reason that God has prohibited women in positions of leadership within the church is for the purity of the church? A protection for His daughters and a safeguard for His sons? I say that because as much as we would hope that we view one another as brothers and sisters, we know that the majority has not yet reached that place. So what I am asking is, may God have also given the restriction for women not to lead, not because women were weak in His eyes, but that men were weak in theirs? Respectfully, Jane

    • Still Waters

      In I Timothy 3, Paul writes that Timothy should treat the elder women as mothers and the younger women as sisters, “in all purity”. I would put it this way – the man who regards his sister or mother as sexually attractive would be considered a pervert. Now, the opposite is also true, if Christian men are to regard women with purity, so must Christian women regard men. I have observed that women are naturally attracted to men in leadership, and I have seen single women seek, perhaps unconsciously, to monopolize the attention of their pastor. Yet, men are to be in positions of leadership. In the church, possible sexual attraction should really not be a factor, if the Body of Christ is walking in obedience.

      • Jane Hildebrand

        That’s the point. It shouldn’t be a factor if the body of Christ is walking in obedience, but it isn’t.

        Pornography statistics are heart breaking among Christian men and even pastors, marriages are being destroyed by affairs and the overall obedience of the church is weak. And to your point that woman are naturally attracted to men in leadership, so much more would men be to women in leadership. It shouldn’t be a factor, but sadly it is.

        • Still Waters

          But, the fact that women are attracted to leadership, didn’t stop Paul from commanding men to be in leadership. So, it seems unlikely that the reason that women are not to be leaders in the church is for protection from sexual temptation. God created the order of man heading the marriage before sexual sin ever entered the world.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            I agree, but I think we also have to take into account the differences in our natures. Feminism aside, it is by nature for a man to pursue a woman. And by nature women are more vulnerable (consider Eve). And let me clarify again that I am in no way saying the only reason God laid the prohibition for women to lead is to avoid sexual temptation. We are first and foremost a model of Christ and His bride in submission and respect. I’m good with that!

            Let me put it this way. I have seen how God gives both men and women tremendous gifts. He has not reserved the important gifts of teaching, leading and discernment to just men. And yet we have this prohibition to not share those gifts with men. I have had preachers on the radio bring me to tears as they have berated women and used the scriptures as weapons. And that is just wrong.

            So what I am saying is that I believe the prohibition for women to lead men is for the greater good of the church and given our fallen nature, “one” of those reasons is the purity of the church.

  • lawngren

    Some women can do the job. You did say that, but I think it needs to be emphasized. In fact, very few women can do the job of an infantry soldier.