Joan of Arc, nicknamed “The Maid of Orléans” (French: Jeanne d’Arc, IPA: [ʒan daʁk]; ca. 1412 – 30 May 1431), is a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in what is now eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII of France.
I have never been particularly concerned about women in combat. I certainly don’t want to fight in any battles, but I’ve always thought that if a woman had the desire and ability to fight in combat, she should be able to. Women in combat has been the talk of some blogs lately since the United States lifted the ban on women in combat. Some complementarian evangelicals don’t like this at all. Here’s an article written by Owen Strachan I came across last week. I’d like to discuss a few highlights.
Strachan begins his article with an example of a woman who had a bad experience in combat. She says she was physically unable to do the job, and suffered for it afterwards. I find it valuable to listen to people’s experiences, but this is only one woman’s experience among the many who have already been in combat situations. This isn’t enough to convince me it’s wrong for every woman who ever lived to not engage in combat. (Many other countries have had women in combat for years, and here is a history of women in combat worldwide.) Here are more links for women in combat.
Strachan continues with this assertion ~
~ “Scripture teaches that woman was made from man, a truth that grounds her dependence on him (Gen. 2:21-22).”
Um, what? Really? So the logic is that since woman was made from man, she is forever dependent on him. Women being taken from man proves no such thing. Actually, I think it could be argued for men being dependent on women, since God made the woman because it wasn’t good for the man to be alone. The truth is, we are all dependent on each other, and it’s counterproductive for the Church to be arguing about which gender should be more dependent on the other. But Owen Strachan doesn’t think so. He asserts woman’s dependence on man as if there’s no argument whatsoever, as if this one verse in Genesis explains it all, when it actually doesn’t. There’s no evidence in the Bible that women are supposed to be dependent on men. There are examples of women who were dependent on men because of the patriarchal culture they were born into, but God never mentions this is the ideal in relationships for all time. Strachan is reading something into the text that isn’t there, and passing it off as truth.
He goes on ~
~ “When Barak quails at the thought of battle against the Canaanites, Deborah promises that this abdication “will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9, ESV). We hear her scorn loud and clear, even as we hear the pounding of Jael’s tent peg into Sisera’s skull (4:21).”
Read the entire chapter here ~ Judges 4
Is the scorn “loud and clear”? Maybe it’s just me, but this verse doesn’t necessarily convey scorn for women in leadership or in combat. It’s possibly a rebuke to Barak for refusing to go without Deborah, whose counsel he obviously valued highly. Or perhaps it’s part of the beliefs of an ancient culture that viewed women as property and baby-makers. I really don’t know, and I question Owen Strachan’s assumption that this is God Himself showing scorn for women in leadership and combat for all time. Strachan states this as if it’s an immutable fact and we don’t need to look any further. He’s figured it out, because of this one verse in the Bible, that women should never be allowed in combat. Look at Judges 5. Where is the scorn for Deborah and Jael here?? You’d think it would be pretty obvious that if God was so upset about Deborah and Jael’s actions, He would have said something about it. But no. All we get is a poem of celebration and praise.
I honestly don’t know whether it’s right or wrong for women to be in combat. It’s possible that the Bible doesn’t provide the answer to this question. Some things aren’t “black and white”, as much we want them to be. The problem with Owen Strachan’s article is that he assumes things from the Biblical texts that aren’t actually there. He reads his opinion into the text(which we all do at times), and then passes it off as a clear, Biblical truth, which can’t be argued with.
More from Strachan ~
~ “If men will not own this responsibility, then women will be forced to take it on as did biblical women such as Deborah and Jael (and the extrabiblical figure Judith).”
I find this statement degrading to women. I have heard this idea before, that if a woman is in leadership it’s only because a man failed to take the position, so she had to step in. It’s by default, not because she has leadership qualities and was the right person for the job. God really wanted a man to do it, but He couldn’t find one, so He settled for a woman. This devalues a woman’s efforts, gifts, and intelligence(not to mention what this says about the Sovereignty of God!). It’s kind of like my husband saying(he would never say this, it’s just an illustration), “I really wanted to marry some other woman, but she said no, so I guess you’ll have to do.“ How would I feel if he said this? I would feel like I wasn’t wanted, not really. I’m second choice. He married me because someone else wouldn’t. That’s what I think of when people say that God has only uses women in big ways because there are no obedient men around.
Again, it’s not that I particularly want to fight in a war, nor do I claim to know the correct answers to these questions. I just think it’s wrong that this man(Owen Strachan) and probably others, are claiming to know the answers, absolutely, without question. The Biblical evidence he presents is scant and could be subject to other interpretations. He completely ignores cultural context, and in the case of women supposedly being created by God to be dependent on men, he actually adds to the text. This is a dangerous game, and it should be exposed for what it is.