I’ve heard a bit about the women in combat issue recently, and thought I’d throw in my two pesos.
The issue that seems to be at stake here is equality. If women want to be involved in military combat, they should have the same rights as men. It is an obvious outgrowth of the feminist movement. Many men and women are pushing for the disappearance of gender roles, and in the process are denying that men and women should be treated or thought of as being different at all.
Before touching on women’s equality, I just want to mention a few problems with women in combat.
Women will lose rights by gaining the right to participate in combat. If women are included in combat, how long is it until they lose the right to be exempt from the draft? So many of our rights that we take for granted go out the window when the draft comes into play. Do the people who are pro-women in combat want more rights for women, or less?
Women have different hygiene issues than men. It is not as simple as just making the rules the same for everybody. Men’s and women’s bathroom needs require different facilities and often different clothing to accommodate. There is also the issue of what happens to women’s bodies once a month. A combat situation out in the middle of nowhere doesn’t seem to fit very well with female hygiene. The female body is simply not the same as the male body.
What will the military do about strength requirements? Will they have different sets of strength standards for men and women? If so, this does not seem to be bringing equality to the sexes, but rather reinforces inequality.
The problems of sexual harassment seem so obvious that they could go without discussion, but apparently that’s not the case. I saw a woman post on Facebook the other day about the problem of men and women in combat needing to undress together: “what’s the big deal, they’re just bodies!” I imagine the following scenario would be the “big deal”: men and women for some reason are forced to change together, men see a woman undress, and at least one of them has something to say (or worse, wants to do something) about it. If there were 30 men in this situation who have been separated from their wives or girlfriends, you can’t tell me that at least one of them won’t do something inappropriate. Is this really worth it for the women who now “get the privilege of being involved in combat?”
Those may be problems, but we’re just trying to be fair, right? For many of us, we fail to understand that there can be a difference between fairness and common sense. We also forget that being different in some things doesn’t necessarily mean a difference in value.
Exclusivity based on physical characteristics is inherent in the military, even among men. Tall men can’t be on submarines or be fighter pilots. Fat men shouldn’t be Marines. Scrawny guys can’t be Army Rangers. Some of these things are genetic and exclude people from the military. That’s not sexist, it’s just real life.
Equality vs. sameness
Fight as we may, men and women are different. They are not the same. We shouldn’t be fighting for sameness, which doesn’t exist, but equality. Equal value, equal pay for equal work. We shouldn’t be fighting for a man’s right to give birth or a woman’s right to be in combat.
1 Peter 3 talks about gender roles in a way that shows us that God views men and women as being different, yet reminds men that women are “fellow heirs of the grace of life.” Women must be respected as equal human beings for whom Christ died. That does not stop the Holy Spirit from speaking through Peter to set up gender roles. Just because I am not a soldier does not mean I am a less valuable citizen. Just because women shouldn’t be in combat doesn’t mean they are less valuable either.
“In the beginning, God made them male and female.” These differences are created by God, not some result of sin that we should try to overcome.