Given Deborah, Jael, and Judith, Why Shouldn't Women Serve in Combat?
Image: Amanda Duffy
Given Deborah, Jael, and Judith, Why Shouldn't Women Serve in Combat?

Editor's note: The Associated Press reported today that the Pentagon is removing its 1994 ban on women in combat.

Men Are Fitter

Owen Strachan is a contributing writer for the Gospel Coalition and executive director of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Recently, the Marine Corps Gazette published a bold op-ed on a hot topic: women in combat. This essay was not written by a patriarchal jarhead, however. It was authored by Katie Petronio, Marine captain.

Petronio, a former college hockey player, shared that after five months on the frontlines in Afghanistan, "I had muscle atrophy in my thighs that was causing me to constantly trip and my legs to buckle with the slightest grade change." Eventually, Petronio lost 17 pounds and was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. She concluded, "There is no way I could endure the physical demands of the infantrymen whom I worked beside."

This experience confirms the fears of evangelicals who have concerns about women in combat. Scripture teaches that woman was made from man, a truth that grounds her dependence on him (Gen. 2:21-22). It details how Adam failed to own this responsibility and protect his wife. For this reason, God addressed him first after the forbidden fruit was eaten: "Where are you?" (Gen. 3:9). Adam was a self-crippled man.

This tragic pattern continues in different places in biblical history, leaving courageous godly women like Deborah and Jael to lead in place of men. 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 ...

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