Saturday, June 11, 2005

On Women in Combat

According to the NY Times, the Army failed to meet recruiting goals for the fourth consecutive month. The figures for May put the service nearly 8,300 soldiers behind its projected year-to-date number of enlistees. Meanwhile, the Marine Corps, which had not missed recruiting targets for the better part of a decade, has also come up short for four consecutive months.

The dim statistics from the Pentagon, largely the result of the continuing war in Iraq, have not diminished the zeal of the administration. Speaking at the Air Force Academy, Vice President Cheney ominously promised more "great victories to come."

Where will the soldiers come from to claim these “great victories?” There is still resistance to a draft on Capitol Hill and even within the Pentagon itself.

One potential stopgap measure advocated by an unholy alliance of egalitarian liberals, individualist libertarians, and imperious neoconservatives is to end the ban on open homosexuals serving in the armed forces. Neocon hawk Max Boot makes the pragmatic argument against the ban: “Sooner or later, the U.S. military will follow the example of Australia, Britain and Israel and lift its ban on openly gay service members. In the struggle against Islamic fanatics, we can't afford to turn volunteers away.”

Boot’s solution would bring limited benefits. Between 1994 and 2003 the Government Accountability Office says the military discharged 9,488 homosexuals. I doubt seriously that those additional 900 gay soldiers per annum would secure victory in the “War on Terror.”

However, a larger potential pool of fodder for the imperial project could be found by systematically tapping into the fairer sex. And what could be more “fair” than sending our nation’s wives, daughters, and sisters off to wage war? Libertarian feminist Cathy Young says that the “notion that women deserve special protection from violence…is ultimately infantilizing [and] no society dedicated to the principle of fair play can demand that men treat women as equals in all other walks of life, and then tell men their lives are more expendable.”

Today women comprise 15% of the active-duty military and 24% of the reservists. There are 9,000 women stationed in Iraq and 35 have perished in the fighting there so far.

What shall we make of the suggestion that women should serve alongside men? The question takes on greater importance as we consider the looming possibility of a draft that almost certainly would, in this day of gender confusion, include women.

Christians who aren’t embarrassed by their Bibles should forcefully put forth the truth that there is a comprehensive pattern of differentiation between men and women outlined in Scripture. It is men who protect and lay down their lives for women, even as Christ died for the Church, and it is women who bear a responsibility as nurturers. In Joshua 1:14, we read that the “wives, young children, and livestock” of Israel remained on the other side of the Jordan River while the “fighting men” crossed the river to wage war against the Canaanites.

Christians can also point to numerous other texts, including Deut. 22:5: “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.”

The passage obviously refers to clothes, but the meaning is far broader. The intention is to maintain distinctions between the sexes. As R. J. Rushdoony said in commenting on the text, it “forbids imposing a man’s duties and tools on a woman, and a woman’s on a man. Its purpose is thus to maintain God’s fundamental order.” That fundamental order is hierarchical and, for lack of a better word, patriarchal.

Warfare is an inherently revolutionary business. Christians and conservatives used to understand that truism. Today, the pragmatic needs of the warfare state are being used to systematically undermine, eliminate, and obliterate distinctions between the sexes.

Having swallowed the egalitarian presuppositions of the Enlightenment, Christians routinely deny that there are in fact God-ordained sexual roles, and have functionally become egalitarians. But egalitarianism is heresy, for it denies the very principle of order itself and attempts to arrange creation on its own terms. Equality thus becomes a philosophical and religious faith that demands the fidelity of every individual and institution. “Conservative” evangelicals have been loath to do battle with the egalitarian ethos in our homes and churches, so we ought not be surprised that when this virus attacks other institutions we stand by impotently in the face of social revolution.

The progressive desexualization of our culture is running amok, and the distinctions between male and female are increasingly blurred. To quote Rushdoony again, “modern culture has a strongly transvestite character. Here as elsewhere it prefers the character of perversion to the law of God.”

Where are the pastors with the courage to preach on what God says about sending women into combat, and where are the Christian publications and leaders who will stand up and call the problem of women in combat what the Bible does: an “abomination”? Where are the teachers who will call the doctrine of equality what it is: “heresy”?

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