The Folly of Men Arming Women for Combat

The Folly of Men Arming Women for Combat

Here we go again — more fallout from the male cowardice that won’t stand up to the politically correct shamers, but instead countenances arming our women for frontline combat. I addressed the folly of it in 2007 twice.

Now USA Today reports that the minimal standards for strength set by the marines are on hold because half the women in boot camp can’t do three pull-ups. They’re on hold as “part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs.”

Pull-ups aren’t arbitrary. They require, say the soldiers, “the muscular strength necessary to perform common military tasks such as scaling a wall, climbing up a rope, or lifting and carrying heavy munitions.” Why the hold-up on the pull-up minimum? “The risk of losing recruits and hurting retention of women already in the service was unacceptably high.”

A Shame on the President’s Manhood

A year ago President Obama praised lifting restrictions from women in combat: “Today, by moving to open more military positions — including ground combat units — to women, our armed forces have taken another historic step toward harnessing the talents and skills of all our citizens.”

His argument was that “many [women] have made the ultimate sacrifice, including 150 women who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Therefore, “valor knows no gender.”

For thousands of years of military wisdom and noble instincts that reasoning would have been unintelligible. Of course, there are women of valor. But for a male commander-in-chief to say that since they are willing to die in combat, therefore we should arm them for it, is a non-sequitur, and a shame on the president’s manhood.

It’s a non-sequitur because more factors than valor go into fitting a person for combat, and it’s a shame because true manhood inclines a man to fight to protect women; it does not incline him to arm women for the frontline of combat to defend him.

That’s the main issue, not pull-ups. The main issue is: how God has designed manhood and womanhood to honor each other and to create a cultural choreography where men and women flourish.

Man As Protector

The Bible reveals man as a protector. Jesus came into the world to destroy the enemies of his bride (1 John 3:8). He came to rescue her at the cost of his own life (Mark 10:45). This was the ultimate paradigm of how a husband relates to his wife: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

The echoes of this ultimate manhood in Christ are found throughout the Bible as men take the initiative to protect their women. And when Barak insists that Deborah go with him to battle, she makes it clear that this will be to his shame: “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory” (Judges 4:9).

Jael would get the glory. She put a tent peg through the skull of the enemy commander (Judges 4:21; 5:24–26). She was a woman of great valor. And all the more so because she was not a soldier.

Don’t Go with the Flow

So it has been in almost every society that has come under the sway of Christian truth: women of valor, women ready to die in the service of family and fatherland, but not women armed by men for combat. It would have been viewed by most men as cowardly.

I don’t presume that Christians have the influence to make such a vision of manhood and womanhood normative, or that even all Christians agree with me. I draw attention to the folly of men arming women for combat, and men adjusting military standards for political reasons, so that Christian pastors and parents will clarify for their people and their children how differently God sees things, so that we do not all just go with the suicidal flow.


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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.