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Posts Tagged ‘women in combat’

woman soldier with gunDeborah was a judge and prophetess.  To this, many of my gender quickly add, “Deborah was also a courageous military leader in battle.”  But, what does God’s Word tell us?

Let’s Think About It

Q: Deborah was a prophetess.  A prophet or prophetess speaks on behalf of another but, as far as I can determine, not as a public speaker for God during a congregational gathering.  A prophetess might give counsel, settle disputes, or offer thankfulness and praise to God.  Deborah was also a judge.  What was the condition of Israel in the years prior to her leadership (Judges 2:13, 16-17; 3:7, 13; 4:1-4)?

A: Martin Luther took note of the service of Deborah and other women as rulers.  He said that they “have been very good at management.”  He suggested that women’s leadership in other areas of life might motivate men to properly fulfill their responsibility.  It is important to note that Deborah became a judge after the people of Israel repeatedly “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”  Evil, in every way, opposes God’s created order for men, women, and the benefit of a thriving society.

Q: We may think that Deborah was sent by God into combat against Israel’s enemy.  But, is this the case? 

A: A careful read of Judges 4:4-15 reveals that God did not ask Deborah to carry the sword in combat.  He asked Barak through Deborah.  Victory was promised to Barak if only he would obey, but he chose not to.  Barak said he would do the Lord’s bidding only if Deborah went with him into battle.  Deborah told Barak that the glory in battle would not be his because the enemy Sisera would be delivered “into the hand of a woman” (v. 9).  The woman Deborah refers to in this verse is not herself, but Jael.  Dr. Vogel explains: “Deborah accompanied Barak to Mount Tabor, but no further.  Consistent with Deuteronomy, she donned no battle gear nor engaged in the conflict.   Barak (unaccompanied by Deborah) led 10,000 men into the valley to a resounding victory. The rebuke for Barak’s recalcitrance was rendered when a heroic woman, Jael, was given the opportunity to slay the fleeing enemy commander, Sisera.  She did this in her own tent, with household equipment [a tent peg], not as a warrior on a battlefield.”  (“Women in Combat: Two Views,” The Lutheran Witness, May 2003, p. 16-20)

Q: Deborah served as a judge and prophetess.  She counseled Barak as the leader of Israel’s troops.  Yet, how did she sum up her role in Judges 5:7?

A:  Deborah was praised for her leadership, yet she does not sing about being raised up as a warrior.  She sings of being a “mother in Israel.”  Though no biological children of Deborah are mentioned, she is an encourager and helper for her people.  Scripture, like much of human culture, consistently distinguishes the roles of men and women.

Q: Specialist Hollie Vallence, quoted in Part 1 of this series, was asked by her country to sacrifice home and family.  In doing so, she explained that she had to build an “ice wall around her heart.”  Is this consistent with God’s design?  What are the consequences for women, men, and children if a mother hardens her heart?

A: Luther noted that a woman is merciful by nature because she is born to show mercy and to cherish just as a man is born to protect.  This is why, Luther says, no living creature has more mercy than a woman, particularly in respect for her infant.  Men are known to focus on one project, putting all others aside, until it is finished.  In times of war, this allows them to leave their home and family for periods of time in order to “do their duty.”  It is not that they always feel brave and fearless, but perhaps their vocation of steward and protector allows them to do what they need to do for wives, sons and daughters; indeed, for future generations.  They are free to accomplish what is necessary, knowing that their children are in the capable and loving care of mothers.  Here, then, is the woman partnering with her husband and serving her country by guarding hearth and home while he is doing battle with the enemy of that home.  In war, as in work, men understand other men.  When a country is serious about winning victory over its enemy, it brings well-trained men together, with no distractions, to focus on the job at hand.  These men may return home “changed,” but most can resume life as usual.  Mothers, as explained by Hollie Vallence, are not programmed to put distance between themselves and young children.  Dr. Vogel offers wisdom: “If God is indifferent to the woman-warrior concept and a woman chooses to serve in a noncombatant role, God is not offended.  If, however, God is not indifferent to the woman warrior concept, and a woman seeks service as a combatant, does she not become a victim of her own will and disobedient to that of God?”  Is there a problem with women in the military?  No, but as in any workplace, there will certainly be a changed environment and cautions to heed.

Q: Will God bless a people or a nation whose men send women to the front lines of battle?  Will He bless the men (defenders of life) who send women (bearers of life) to meet the enemy?  To be shot at, brutalized, or sacrificed in the name of “equality” or “rights?”

A: God was not pleased with the man who used Deborah as a kind of “human shield.”  That is because the Groom of the Church does not stand behind his Bride.  He stands in front of her.  Small tribes and great countries who honor the human rule of chivalry understand that great sacrifice may be necessary in order to protect mothers of children for they are a people’s future.

Conclusion

It is not that God wants men to die, but that He entrusts to them the noble role of protector and defender.  As the Man of Sacrifice, Jesus led the way into battle.  He did not send others.  Jesus faced the greatest weapon of mass destruction – the anger of God upon sinful people.  He did not stand behind “human shields,” letting you and me die so that He might avoid pain and death.  In the battle for the life of His Bride, Jesus “took the bullet.”  He died so that we might live.

Jesus is both a model and Savior for men and women.  He wants us to follow Him and imitate His behavior.  Sinful as we are, we will want to test the boundaries.  We will put ourselves in God’s place, but such pride can put others at risk.  Is all hopeless?  No!  The One who faced our enemy – and won the eternal victory – reaches to us with nail-pierced hands, saying: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that you may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (14:6).

“Bearers and Defenders of Life” is Lesson 11 of
Men, Women, and Relationships, first published in 1999 and revised in 2004.
(Lutherans For Life, Concordia Publishing House)

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woman combat gunWho lobbies for women in combat?  Is it with national security… or something else… in mind?

In light of terrorists and all-male armies around the world, should we regard serving in combat as an “equal job opportunity?”

Elaine Donnelly and the Center for Military Readiness, released a 42-page report mid-January exploring the unintended consequences of putting women on the front lines.  “It will do great harm to women in the military, especially those who will find themselves in the infantry – something there’s no indication they wanted.”  Mrs. Donnelly asks an important question: “Why is the Secretary of Defense ramming this on through?”

This, says Mrs. Donnelly, “is social engineering to achieve a political end in the name of diversity”. . . [but] it is unfair to the women, it’s unfair to the men, it’s problematic for the readiness and efficiency and effectiveness of infantry battalions.

Let’s Think About It

Q: Civilized cultures have always trained men to protect and defend women and children.  Christian fathers who follow the example set by Jesus mentor sons to be gentlemen and treat girls and women with upmost respect and care.  However, the effective utilization of women in combat requires that men put aside such behavior in order to treat a woman like just another man.  What kind of culture does this create?

A: Even non-Christians note that groups tend to disintegrate and face extinction when societies fail to train their men to protect and defend women.  Men on board the Titanic gave their lives for women, not because they were all Christian men, but because Biblical teaching for society had become the “law of the sea.”  The titanic chivalry of “women and children [into the lifeboats] first” flows from Ephesians 5:25.   There is also the issue of mentoring.  When we focus on “it’s my right” or perpetuate the myth that “equal means ‘being the same,’” how are we instructing a younger generation?  What is a young man taught to think about women as they endure the rigors of military training side by side?  What do boys learn from fathers who intentionally put women in harm’s way?  What is the carry-over to life outside the military?  If society will not tolerate male aggression toward women in everyday life, is it wise – or necessary – to make an exception in combat?  A civilization that wants to thrive does well to think beyond the present to the future.

Q: What are the realities of both training and battle conditions?

A: We may want to envision pleasant images of skilled women managing high tech equipment, young men and women successfully practicing self-control in close quarters, and enlisted men snapping to the attention of female drill sergeants, but evidence reveals much to the contrary.  There are reported increases of sexual abuse, unfaithfulness of spouses, unintended pregnancy, a supposed “need” for easier access to abortion, and deployment of single moms.  Jessica Lynch, pulled from her Humvee and taken prisoner in Iraq, was raped and sodomized by her captors (I Am A Soldier, Too; the biography of Jessica Lynch by Rick Bragg).

Q: “Equal means ‘being the same’” may sound good, but can we really ignore the differences between male and female anatomy?  Mrs. Donnelly says, “Women don’t have an equal opportunity to survive in combat.”  Why might this be?  How might the anatomy of a woman put her more at risk than a man?

A: In seeking a bush for privacy, how does a woman avoid sniper fire and landmines?  Men can quickly unzip and zip, but is it the same for women?  In addition to dignity and modesty, what about hygiene and gynecology?  There are drugs that “shut down” a woman’s menstrual cycle, but is this natural and healthy?  Feminists and social engineers may deny the differences between men and women, but will the enemy?  How might a female prisoner of war be treated differently than a man?  If he is obedient to his calling as a defender of women, what lengths might a male soldier go to in protecting a female soldier?  

Q: Rev. F.A. Hertwig asks, “If there is a threatening noise at the front door, who do you expect should be the first to investigate?  Will the man sit back and send his wife, daughter or mother while he goes to the basement?”  (“Letters” in The Lutheran Witness, June 2003, p. 4)  When Eve stood in harm’s way before Satan, how did Adam respond (Genesis 3:6, 12)?  What is the significance of these verses when it comes to the discussion of women in combat?

A: Genesis 3:6 reveals that Adam sinned when he failed to remember God’s Word and use it in the battle between life and death.  Adam failed to protect his wife from Satan’s attack.  He failed to bring order out of chaos for the sake of future generations.  Rev. Hertwig, a pastor in Lincoln, Missouri, explains Genesis 3:12 in this way: “When God stood at the door, a confused and fallen Adam sent his wife, Eve, to face the catastrophe.  He chose to deny the one who had come from his side.  For the rest of his 930 years, he lived with daily contrition each time he looked at his bosom friend.  His protecting embrace had all the more fervor mixed with regret that he had failed.”  Rev. Hertwig continues, “For a man to see his wife, mother or daughter writhing in the mud with a bayonet rifle is repulsive to the core.  When Adam retreats, yes even in the face of God, he has in a miserable moment surrendered to the devil.  To venture the ‘absence’ of specifics on our subject is an accommodating detail to the devil’s question, ‘Yea, hath God said?’” (The Lutheran Witness, “Letters,” June/July 2003)

Deborah is held up by many Christians as the Old Testament example of a woman in combat.  But, was she?  Part 4, the last in this series of posts, will take a closer look at Deborah and Jael.

“Bearers and Defenders of Life” is Lesson 11 of
Men, Women and Relationships first published in 1999 and revised in 2004.
If you’re curious about this collection of 12 studies on
Biblical manhood and womanhood, please contact
Lutherans For Life or Concordia Publishing House.

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women combat waitingAmericans have developed a bad habit of turning social experiments into policy and code.  Do you know what I’m talking about?

A social experiment arrogantly opposes God’s created order.  It has the look and feel of liberty but, in reality, puts human life at risk.   Abortion and the “marriage” of two men or two women are social experiments.  So is the political correctness of putting women into combat.  Social experiments are reckless and foolish.

Let’s Think About It

During His life on earth, Jesus honored and elevated women in remarkable new ways.  Certainly, He could have chosen both men and women to serve as His apostles.  He did not.  Jesus was not only aware of the created differences of male and female (after all, He was present at creation Genesis 1:26), but of their differing yet complementary roles and vocations.  Equality does not mean that everyone does the same thing, but that male and female each have the opportunity to serve God and others according to their design.

Q: How might the Christian woman consider serving in combat in this light?

A: We might begin with some personal introspection.  I know that God created me.  I am His design for His purpose.  But, like Eve before me, I am tempted to doubt the Creator and, in fact, position myself as lord of my own life.  My choices are too easily influenced by personal feelings, circumstance, convenience, pride, envy, short-sightedness, and search for identity.

Dr. Leroy Vogel, retired U.S. Navy chaplain and professor emeritus at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, writes, “While it may be argued that there is no specific Scriptural passage that forbids a woman to serve as warrior, the apparent accommodation of some within the Church to the spirit of the age that turns warrior into a unisex role would appear, at a minimum, to be a departure from the divine wisdom of the Creator regarding the differentiation of the sexes.”

Q: What is the issue – sexual equality or ordered equality?

A: Dr. Vogel notes that when we ignore the Biblical account of creation, sexual differentiation and roles are viewed as “social constructs and, if society has created the distinctions, society can abolish them.”  To overturn the created order of differentiation and roles is to abandon Biblical faith.  “Scripture is clear,” writes Dr. Vogel.  “God made two sexes [genders], equal but with assigned roles.  Sexual equality is not the issue; ordered equality is.  Scripture and the tradition of the Church assign to man the role of defender, protector, warrior.  To woman is given the role of life-giver, nurturer, sustainer.”  Dr. Vogel offers a curious Hebrew interpretation of a Deuteronomy 22:5 (NIV translation): “A woman must not wear men’s clothing . . . for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.”  Dr. Vogel submits that this verse is about more than cross-dressing.  He explains that “men’s clothing” in Hebrew is translated keli-gerber.  Keli denotes “equipment,” specifically a soldier’s equipment.  The Hebrew noun geber denotes “mighty man” or “hunter” or “warrior.”  So, writes, Dr. Vogel, “a legitimate translation of the phrase uses language of a decidedly military flavor: ‘No woman shall put on the gear of a warrior.’”  It seems that the church fathers John Calvin and Martin Luther agreed.  “Luther knew Hebrew,” writes Dr. Vogel, “and comments on the verse as follows: ‘A woman shall not bear the weapons of a man . . . it is improper . . . Through this law [God] reproaches any  nation in which this custom is observed.’”  Why, you ask?  Dr. Vogel answers, “Because God created male and female with specific and complementary characteristics.  It is in their relationship with one another that the two constitute the full expression of humanity.” (“Women in Combat: Two Views,” The Lutheran Witness, May 2003, p. 16-20.)

Q: What is the significance of Genesis 3:20 for this issue?

A: Woman’s glory is found in her God-given role as life-giver and nurturer.  Dr. Vogel paraphrases Luther, saying that “women were created not to kill and destroy, but to be a vessel for life.”  A culture that encourages women to destroy life is a culture that rebels against God’s design for His creation.  A culture that doubts the created differences between the “defender” of life (male) and “bearer” of life (female) is a culture that has been deceived by Satan’s question: “Did God really say . . .?” (Genesis 3:1).

Q: George Gilder writes, “The ancient tradition against the use of women in combat embodies the deepest wisdom of the human race.  It expresses the most basic imperatives of group survival: a nation or tribe that allows the loss of large numbers of its young women runs the risk of becoming permanently depopulated.  The youthful years of women, far more than of men, are precious and irreplaceable.”  (Men and Marriage, p. 135).  What brings a society to the place where it forgets or ignores this truth?  What does the future hold for such a society?

A: There are two worldviews: God’s and all others.  The Christian who trusts God’s Word can be confident that the Creator of life has a way that things of life work best.  Consider the words of God to Job (Job 38-41).  God speaks His worldview to us through His Word – from Genesis to Revelation.  He speaks His Word to us through Jesus Christ who, literally, is the Word become flesh (John 1).  But, perhaps, when we are blessed with resources and exist without threat of enemy at our door, we can become complacent and self-absorbed.  At such times, might our hearts and minds be influenced more by the foolishness of the world than the wisdom of God?  What does 1 Corinthians 1:16-30 say about wisdom?  What does the future hold for people who seek after personal desires or the world’s view?  “. . . [T]he world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

Before moving on to Part 3, here’s something to ponder.  Edwin Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, writes, “The reason we all know the idea of women playing pro football is absurd is because we’re serious about football.  It’s tough game, and if you allow yourself to be distracted by irrelevant issues like ‘sexual equity’ when you should be making your team the toughest it can possibly be, you’re going to get creamed.  So why are we letting feminists impose ‘sexual equity’ on an area that makes football look like a tea party; something that is  not a game, but a matter of life and death for our nation as well as for the ‘players,’ namely, our military?”

“Bearers and Defenders of Life” is Lesson 11 of
Men, Women, and Relationships first published in 1999 and revised in 2004.
If you’re curious about this collection of 12 studies on
Biblical manhood and womanhood, please contact
Lutherans For Life or Concordia Publishing House.

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women in combat“Women in combat” is a life issue.  It is an issue to which God speaks.  In this post and several to follow, I would like to offer questions, answers, and commentary for Christians to ponder. 

The question, I think, that we need to be asking is not: “Can women be in combat?”  The question is: “Should women be in combat?”  I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for, shall we say, better ammunition for my argument than “if men can do it, so can women.”

Bearers and Defenders of Life

Discussions of men and women in combat bring mixed reactions.  Some people believe that women do not belong in combat because they do not have the physical capacity to endure the rigorous standards of training or the hardships of war.  Some believe that it is a woman’s “right” to defend her country and that she can do so as well as any man.  Besides, they insist, modern warfare seldom involves the physical force of front-line battle

Let’s put reason and logic to work: Consider the physical differences between men and women, such as their bone and muscle structures.  Gender-integrated basic training undermines rigorous standards.  But, this argument can be countered with examples of women who have developed body strength and can keep up with a man.

Consider the sexual attraction between men and women.  Gender-integrated training and combat duty creates an environment in which men and women are vulnerable to sexual misconduct and abuse.  But, this argument can be countered with practiced self-control.

This debate deserves more than opinion.   It deserves more than a simple “it’s my right.”

So, what are real soldiers saying?   A classmate of my son’s served on board ship in the Persian Gulf.  In a conversation, this 21-year-old woman confessed a breakdown in respect for both women and men.  Everything, she said, took on a “sexual connotation,” modesty was nearly “impossible,” and the rate of pregnancies on board ship was “higher than on shore assignment.”

Specialist Hollie Vallance was quoted in the Dallas Morning News (2-20-91) before being shipped to the Gulf War.  She said, “I never really thought about going into combat.  I never dreamed anything like this would happen in my lifetime, let alone right after I had my first child.”  She continued.  “I’ve built an ice wall around my heart to try to cool the pain, and sometimes I worry that [my husband and baby daughter] won’t be able to melt it away.”

In a commissioned survey of women in the Army, 79% of enlisted women and 71% of female noncommissioned officers said they wouldn’t volunteer for combat.  Only 10% of the female privates and corporals agreed with this statement: “I think that women should be treated exactly like men and serve in combat just like men.”  Less than one-quarter of mid-grade sergeants answered yes.  (The Washington Times, 10-5-98).

A young husband and relative of mine serving in the Persian Gulf was forced to share his tent with a woman soldier.  He told me “it was not a good situation any way you chose to look at it.”

Pfc. Jessica Lynch and Army Specialist Shoshana Johnson returned home from the War in Iraq in the spring of 2003 as heroines.  Although neither of them was technically in a combat position, they were, nonetheless, placed so close to the front line of battle that they were each captured by the enemy.  After being rescued, neither of them, it seems, wanted to be “poster girls” for women in combat.

Is there a problem with women serving in the military?  I don’t think so.  A strong, effective military respects and utilizes the abilities of women in medicine, teaching, and tactical maneuvers.  But, to pretend that women are no different from men, place them together in close quarters, lower standards of physical endurance, and compromise training is to place men, women, families, and country in harm’s way.

The question we need to be asking is not: “Can women be in combat?”  The question is: “Should women be in combat?”

In the end, it really doesn’t matter what our opinion might be or how we feel about it.  What does matter is what God says.

In gaining perspective on women in combat, do you find significance in the name of the first woman?  Genesis 3:20 tells us that Adam named his wife Eve.  Eve, in Hebrew, means “life.”  How this must have angered Satan who despises the humans that God so loves.  But, it was God’s plan that Eve became the mother of every living person.

During a Titus 2 Retreat, some women will tell me that having women in combat must be o.k. because, after all, Deborah went into battle against the enemy of the Israelites.  But, have they read the whole account found in Judges 4:4-22?  Did Deborah lead the troops into battle or fulfill the role of encourager?  Why didn’t the man Barak receive glory for the way his enemy died?  Was the enemy killed by a woman with a weapon on the battlefield… or not?  (Be patient.  We’ll come back to this in Part 3.)

The prophet Nehemiah told the men to do battle for their families.  He said, “Do not be afraid of them [enemies].  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes (Nehemiah 4:1-14).

Want to continue this discussion with some Q & A?  Then please continue to Part 2 of this series.

“Bearers and Defenders of Life” is Lesson 11 of
Men, Women, and Relationships first published in 1999 and revised in 2004.
If you’re curious about this collection of 12 studies on
Biblical manhood and womanhood,
please contact
Lutherans For Life or Concordia Publishing House.

Read Full Post »

Today, a stint in the military comes with educational benefits.  Young women as well as men see opportunity.  There is also patriotism, especially after 9/11.  Both men and women find value and meaning in serving their country.

There are many ways for women to serve their country.  But, when foolishness rules, “rights” quickly become “wrongs.”  What we think we can do might not be what we should do.

Here’s a question.  When a man hears the sound of someone breaking into his house, does he send his wife, daughter or mother to face the enemy?

Late one evening, my brother and sister-in-law heard the sound of breaking glass.  Looking out their bedroom window, they could see a strange man attempting to break in their back door.  Did my brother send my sister-in-law to the door?  (After all, she is smart and athletic.)   Did he send his wife to confront the enemy?  No.  My brother went to the door where he found the intruder reaching through the glass to turn the inside lock.  He grabbed the intruder’s hand.  There was a brief skirmish before the enemy fled.   Soon, the police arrived.

Did my brother believe that his wife had no role to play in protecting their home?  Did he see her incapable of helping?  No.  He instinctively knew that he was to protect his wife and family, but he also knew that his wife was part of the “team.” So, from a secure area, he asked her to call 911.   The police arrived because she made that call.

An enemy at the door is not Xbox.  Nor is it equal opportunity for women.  When the enemy stood at my brother’s door, he knew better than to be distracted by the irrelevant issue of “sexual equity.”

I am certain it would be in the best interests of our nation — and surely the men engaged on the front lines of battle — not to be distracted by irrelevant issues.  Foolishness puts us all in harm’s way.

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Twisted feminism is foolish.  It puts civilization in harm’s way.

It is foolish to believe that a woman can have freedom only if her child is aborted.  It is foolish to believe that men and women are the same.  It is foolish to fantasize women warriors.

“The ancient tradition against the use of women in combat embodies the deepest wisdom of the human race.  It expresses the most basic imperatives of group survival: a nation or tribe that allows the loss of large numbers of its young women runs the risk of becoming permanently depopulated,” writes George Gilder in Men and Marriage.

“Beyond this general imperative is the related need of every society to insure that male physical strength and aggressiveness are not directed against women . . . All civilized societies train their men to protect and defend women.  When these restraints break down . . . the group tends to disintegrate completely and even to become extinct.”

What about the so-called successful use of women in today’s military?  It, writes Gilder, “depends on men overcoming their natural impulse to treat women differently and more considerately.  The consequence of this latest demand for equality would be nothing more or less than a move toward barbarism.”

I like George Gilder.  Again and again I return to “Men and Marriage” because, from a purely sociological and economic perspective, Gilder explains how the foolishness of women competing with men ravages family and destroys harmony.  If my sources are correct, Gilder became a Christian later in life.  (What God has created is naturally revealed unless our eyes are shut and minds are closed.)

“Women in combat” is one of the “hot button issues” discussed during a Titus 2 Retreat.   The topic stirs mixed feelings.  Some believe women don’t belong in combat because they don’t have the physical capacity to endure the rigorous standards of training or the hardships of war.  Some believe it’s a woman’s “right” to defend her country and that she can do so as well as a man.  Others note that “modern” warfare is more technological than “front-line.”

Generally speaking, there is significant difference between male and female bone and muscle structure.  This reality has undermined the rigors of basic training and is why Stephanie Gutmann titled her book A Kinder, Gentler Military.  Of course, the physical strength argument can be countered with examples of women who have developed body strength and can keep up with men.

There is also sexual attraction between men and women.  Putting men and women together for training and in combat creates an environment in which each are vulnerable to sexual misconduct and abuse.  But, this argument can be countered with the practice of self-control.

So, for me, the question isn’t, “Can women be in combat?”  The question is, “Should women be in combat?”  I enter this discussion from my vocation or role of “helper” (Hebrew: ezer).  That’s what God created woman to be.  I am a helper for man and, therefore, for all that man is called by God to do.  Will I help for good, or for harm?  Away from temptation, or into?  With focus on others, or self?  Nurture life, or put it at risk?

I pause to let you ponder.  But, there’s much more to consider… in another post.

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