Saturday, January 16, 2016

Women in the Military

Four US F-15 pilots walk to their jets
Women have made many great sacrifices serving in the military and made many valuable contributions. That cannot be denied or diminished. However, a shift has taken place in the military that has blurred the distinctions between men and women. I would like to discuss this important matter from a biblical perspective.

The world has been deceived by the devil and is under the control of satan, who is the god of this world. So it's no wonder the world does the things it does, such as neutralizing the genders and creating a unisex culture. It has placed women into roles that were meant by God to be fulfilled by men. I am not being sexist here, assigning a lower status to women, or discriminating against women. I am telling you what the Bible says.

In the Beginning
We can find this clearly in the account of the creation. The beginning of all doctrine is found in the book of Genesis, so let's have a look.

It says, "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen 1:27). That means just what it says. God created man in His own image, both male and female. His image is seen in both genders.

But just as there are unique purposes for everything God created, men have their unique, God-given purpose and women have theirs.

"Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.'" (Gen 2:18). One key word here is "helper" (Hebrew, "ezer", aid, help). Another key word is "suitable" (Hebrew, "neged", counterpart, mate). When we combine these two terms, we see that God's purpose for woman was to be a counterpart or mate to aid or help the man.

Although everything God made was good, He saw that it was not good for man to be alone. So God created all the animals out of the ground (Gen 2:19), just as He had made man from the dust. But the animals were not made in God's image as man was. "The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him." (Gen 2:20). That means that out of all creation, none of the living creatures were found to be a suitable helper for the man. Again the key expression here is "suitable helper" or "counterpart that aids". Woman has a special and unique role that no man or animal can fulfill.

"So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.'" (Gen 2:21-23)

Rather than form woman from the ground as He had done with Adam and the animals, God fashioned a woman from one of the man's ribs taken from his side. She was taken out of man and made from his own bones, so that he could say she was flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones. That's very special. That's intimacy.

The Scriptures tell us that this is the reason a man is supposed to be joined to his wife in marriage, and it is why they shall become one flesh. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." (Gen 2:24). Since woman was taken from man and became bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh, God intended that the two of them would be reunited as one flesh in holy matrimony together.

This is the basic purpose that God had for women, and He commanded the couple to be fruitful and multiply. That means they were supposed to have children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. A man, his wife, and there children form a family, and that is the basic unit of society.

But once we take the roles that God assigned and we mix them up or confuse them, we frustrate the purposes of God and negatively impact the outcomes in society. From this comes a host of social ills. Therefore, let's keep things in their proper order and avoid creating more problems for ourselves.

Changing the Order
Of course, Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, did not do as God said. Satan deceived the woman into eating of the one tree in the garden that God had commanded them not to eat from, which was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She in turn gave some of the fruit to Adam and he ate, so they both fell into sin, from the perfect state of innocence, in which God had originally created them.

One of the consequences of the fall was that the woman's desire would be for her husband and he would rule over her. To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you." (Gen 3:16). This means that she would want to take his role and authority, and he would rule over her. As a result of this, God's natural order for man and woman was disrupted.

However, in Christ, that order is restored. Man is supposed to love his wife, care for her, provide for her and their children, and the woman is supposed to submit to her husband as the Church submits to Christ.

Paul said, "For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake." (1Co 11:8-9)

"And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." (1Ti 2:14). Therefore, when God's natural order for man and woman is changed, and woman is in authority over man, it results in some outcomes that God did not intend.

Paul said, "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint." (1Ti 2:12-15). Here we can see Paul pointing us back to God's original purpose in the garden, back to the basic family unit organized in its proper order.

He wrote, "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything." (Eph 5:23-24).

When the roles are crossed, it brings disorder, and that's what we see in society, including the military. Women and their families are suffering for it. Some reports indicate that a woman in the US military is three times more likely to be raped than a woman in the general population. In fact, one report from 2011 showed that "25% of military women have been sexually assaulted, and up to 80% have been sexually harassed" [1].

Early Roles of Women in the Military
Female ambulance drivers, British Voluntary Aid Detachment
The woman's role in the military began as an aid to men in medical positions. Dr. Mary Walker served as a contract surgeon during the US Civil War in 1861. She was not actually a member of the Armed Forces, since women were not authorized to do so at that time, but she served an important role nonetheless. She wore a long dress to perform her duties. Then during the Spanish-American War in 1898, American women served aboard ships and in Cuba as nurses. Again they wore long dresses. The US Navy Nurse Corps came into being in 1908, and the nurses wore long dresses. This pattern continued in World War I (1917-1918), as women served as nurses in the US Navy Nurse Corp and Marine Nurse Corps. The dresses were worn to mid-calf.

Then things began to change in the 1940's, during World War II. In addition to the US Navy Corps, there were Women Marines, Navy WAVES, Army WACS, and Coast Guard SPARS. The women's uniform grew shorter, up to the knee, and the Army WACS wore trousers as their work uniform. In the 1950's and 60's, the US military tried to keep up with fashion, further modifying the woman's military uniforms in the WAC and WAF. You can see this entire progression in photos here [2]. The trend continued to what we have today, which is women wearing pants for their uniform.

Female US Marines on patrol in Afghanistan
I will simply say that, according to the Bible, "A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God." (Deu 22:5). In fact, the Hebrew language in this passage indicates that a woman must not wear anything that pertains to a man. This is expressed in the King James Version, which says, "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God." (Deu 22:5, KJV). You can disagree with that if you want to, but that's what the Bible says, and I have treated the topic more fully in my article, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?.

As I have stated, women in the US military initially carried out support roles in the medical field, then in WW I and II, in the clerical, engineering, and photo analysis fields. Of course, they served in certain other special roles, too, including the WASPS, which were test pilots for fighter planes. However, they were prohibited from serving in any direct combat roles until January 2013, when the ban was lifted. In November of that same year, three women completed training in the US Marine Corps Infantry, although they were not yet allowed to serve in infantry roles. As of this month, January 2016, all combat jobs in the US military are open to women. This will probably lead to an increase in the incidence of sexual assault on females and its associated "military sexual trauma" (MST) [3], [4]. It will also increase the number of women in war zones and the incidence of mental illness among them, because government research indicates that females are more likely than males to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [5].

Do you see how we have gotten here to this point? This is not God's order or design. It is not His purpose for women to serve in men's roles, but that is what the military has done. Wikipedia has an excellent article, called Women in Combat, showing how this same trend has happened historically up to the present in other nations of the world also [6].

Biblical Women in the Military
There is only one instance in the Bible where a woman is seen in combat, and that is the account of Deborah, a married prophetess, who went with Barak in the battle against Sisera. So this is an abnormality in Scripture, and even in that case, Barak was the one God had appointed to lead the armies of Israel to victory. God's purpose was for Barak to lead triumphantly, and He promised to give Sisera into his hand (Jdg 4:7), but since Barak refused to go without Deborah, she went along with him. Although there is no evidence in Scripture that she actually fought in the battle, she correctly predicted that the honor would not belong to him but to a woman, which was not God's original intent.

"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.' 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.'" (Jdg 4:8-9). Because Barak abdicated his divinely-given role, God gave Sisera into the hands of a woman, named Jael, who lured him to sleep in her tent and drove a tent peg through his head (Jdg 4:21).

One could hardly say that either Deborah the prophetess or Jael served in the Israeli military. They were not in the military, and it was not God's purpose for them to be. This incident happened outside God's perfect will. God was capable of giving Sisera into Barak's hands, just as He promised He would do. The fact that God ultimately gave Sisera's life into the hands of a woman shows that He could have just as easily done it through Barak. But due to his own doubts and fears, he lost the chance to receive that honor, although he was still listed in Scripture as one who by faith became mighty in war and put foreign armies to flight (Heb 11:32-34).

Suicide Rate
It should also be noted that the rate of suicide among female veterans of the US military is called "staggering." According to an article by the LA Times, "For women ages 18 to 29, veterans kill themselves at nearly 12 times the rate of nonveterans. In every other age group, including women who served as far back as the 1950s, the veteran rates are between four and eight times higher, indicating that the causes extend far beyond the psychological effects of the recent wars." [7]. This is especially alarming, since the rate of suicide among men is normally higher than women. This obscene suicide rate among female veterans reveals the ultimately negative impact military service has upon women. Also see Military Suicide Epidemic.

Putting it All Together
I hope that this little article has helped to put things back into their proper, biblical perspective, regarding women in the military. While the support roles historically and presently carried out by women do serve an important function, there is no Scriptural basis for women wearing that which pertains to a man, including men's clothing and weapons, or being in combat roles.

Adam was created first. Woman was created to be man's suitable helper, or counterpart aid. They are meant to be married as one flesh together, and raise a family together. Woman was not meant to take over her husband's role or authority. He was to be the provider, the protector, and the defender. But the world has reversed those roles abnormally, making women the defender and protector of men, which is not God's design.

I just want to say that I appreciate the sacrifices women have made for the US military. Many women have given their lives for our country. Others have served overseas, away from their families, in order to support our troops. They have paid a great price. And still others have been military wives for decades, raising their children alone at times, while their husbands were off fighting wars. I want to express my gratitude to all our women in the military. But I also want to caution you not to conform to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:1-2).

If you have been deceived by the enemy and fallen into his traps set for you in the military, then please repent and believe in Jesus Christ. He still loves you, but His standard for heaven is high and He is not going to change it for anybody.  He is coming right away, but He is only coming for the holy ones.

"Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?' (Eze 33:11).

If you are a Christian serving in the military, one way that I would like to offer to serve you is by pointing you to some resources that will encourage you in your walk with Christ. One of those is my collection of Christian articles at Writing for the Master. In particular, I recommend Eternal Destinations, Seeking the Lord, Working God's Way, and Be Fruitful and Multiply. If you are a Christian woman serving in the military, please read Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing? Another way I can assist you is with our discipleship school, which is an online, three-year, distance education opportunity called Doulos Training School. Please have a look at it and prayerfully consider whether that is something the Lord would have you do.

And if you are serving in the military, but are not a follower of Christ, or you are gone astray from the Lord (backslidden), I want to tell you that He loves you and died for you. He shed his blood for you on the cross, and is calling you to follow Him. Repent and turn to Him now! I recommend reading my testimony of how I came to know Christ in the military, in my article, The Truth Set Me Free! There are also several other excellent testimonies at Testimonies from Budapest and Eternal Destinations. Below you will find an invitation to know Him personally as Lord and Savior.

Footnotes: The following sites will direct your browser away from the Doulos Military Ministry blog:
[1] Sexual Assault in the United States Military.
[2] Military Women's Uniforms - Past and Present.
[3] Women at war face sexual violence.
[4] Military to open combat jobs to women.
[5] Mental Health Effects of Serving in Afghanistan and Iraq
[6] Women in Combat.
[7] Suicide rate of female military veterans is called 'staggering'

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. All photos are in the public domain.

Author's Note: I also recommend reading Before You Join the Military, Military Suicide Epidemic, Bearing Arms, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Garments of Godliness, Seven Reasons to Believe the Seven Divine Revelations, Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy, Faith Works!, Keeping a Good Conscience, Onward Christian Soldier, Tattoos and Body Piercing, Drifting Away, The Lord Healed My Backsliding, Sins That Will Keep You From HeavenThe Cost of Discipleship, Costly Grace, The Origin of Sin, Satan, and Secular Music, The Kingdom of Darkness, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Is Obedience Optional?, Restored Truth, Aim for Perfection, The Straight and Narrow Path, and The Marine Kingdom and Queen of the Coast. You are invited to view my collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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