Metallic Pea

Frustrating People Since 1971.

Chivalry is Dead–But It Won’t Lie Down

with 12 comments

‘Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one.  You and Aaron are to number by their divisions all the men in Israel twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army.’ ~ Numbers 1:2, 3


‘I don’t know what kind of mood you are in to-day or what you have on your plate, but I know that each and every one of us can breathe free because there are about a million-and-a-half men and women in uniform scattered across our country and around the globe, making sure that we are as safe as we can be in a world gone crazy.’


The article excerpted above troubles me greatly.  Of course, part of the reason for that is my objection to our military action in Iraq (and, perhaps, Iran?) and U.S. foreign policy in general.  However, that last paragraph is even more unnerving and, yet, it was written in such a way as to go almost unnoticed; and, sadly, I hear that sentiment mentioned increasingly as if there is nothing wrong with it: ‘our women in uniform.’

I seem to be one of an increasing minority of folks who think there is something wrong with sending women to do our fighting.  Women used to be–and rightly so–treated with deference and chivalry; they were the fairer sex to be held aloft.  (There was a time when a man would find himself on the business end of a knuckle sandwich for cussing in front of a lady).  Now, however, we appear eager to feed them to the War Machine.  Having seen combat, I simply cannot fathom how a society can willingly–yea, enthusiastically–send our women folk into such a terrible situation.  (That men have to wage war upon occasion is terrible enough.)

The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) addressed this issue some years ago but, quite frankly, I do not think the denomination’s stand against women serving in such a role was strong enough. 

Be it further resolved that the Presbyterian Church in America supports the decision of any of its members to object to, as a matter of conscience, the conscription of women or the use of women as military combatants. 30th General Assembly of the PCA, 21 June 2001    

If the current war(s) are in fact for our very survival, what does it say about our military-aged men that they send women out to do their fighting?  When I consider sending women into combat, the initial adjective that comes to mind is ‘barbaric.’

For now, the debate is largely academic; the law allows women in the military and, as we have seen in recent times, they discover themselves in combat situations quite frequently.  However, should conscription rear its ugly head again–and, with the never-ending GWOT that seems a very likely eventuality–the issue will take on enormous proportions.

My beautiful daughter(s) as cannon fodder?  Over my dead body.


Written by ninepoundhammer

April 21, 2008 at 9:30 pm

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12 Responses

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  1. “barbaric” – quite greek of you Matt!

    The Bible has its own word for the notion: “abomination”


    April 22, 2008 at 6:46 am

  2. never been a fan of women in the military.


    April 22, 2008 at 7:19 am

  3. I agree that women should not be going into battle, but I don’t agree that we should have a chivalric stance that causes us to “hold them aloft.” Protection, provision, defense – these are some of mens’ responsibilities toward women (and children) that are clearly biblical. I think lots of women object to the idea of being held high, or placed on a pedestal, because it makes them into something more like a removed object to be admired, rather than a person to be cherished and protected.


    April 22, 2008 at 8:26 am

  4. I reckon I just have a different perspective, Mr Franklin. My understanding of chivalry and the attitudes toward women by Western Christendom teaches me that we should hold our women in special esteem–such as the protection you mentioned, but also in holding doors, pulling out chairs, standing, etc. It’s the flip-side of the Ephesians 5 coin.

    This discussion reminds me that I can do a better job of it, really.


    April 22, 2008 at 11:52 am

  5. If a woman wants to go into battle, I do not feel morally obligated to stop her. In a large country there will be women who desire the battlefield much more than I, and who will make far better soldiers. At the moment every woman fighting signed up for it.

    I think the turning point in this argument is the draft, which raises far tougher questions. Now that the military has allowed women in and it has become increasingly more acceptable for them to be in combat; when a draft comes will there be pressure to include women in it? If it does then the church will need to stand up against it. Though personally I don’t think an upcoming draft will include women because any draft will be controversial after both Vietnam and Iraq and we are still a fairly conservative country.


    April 22, 2008 at 2:40 pm

  6. This reminds me of that situation a while back when that British female naval officer was held hostage in the Middle East. President Ahmadinejad said, “Why is it that the most difficult work like patrolling at sea should be given to a woman? Why is there no respect for motherhood? Why does the West not value its women?” I actually found myself agreeing with him. (link to quote:

    Patricia Calderon

    April 22, 2008 at 3:48 pm

  7. Jacob, I understand your position but I vehemently disagree. Behaviour cannot be legitimised (in this case, women in the military) simply because it is done willingly or of someone’s own volition. When two consenting adults commit adultery, the sin is not ameliorated simply because they were both consenting to it.

    And I am afraid that I am much less confident than you that women would be exempt from future conscription. Our society’s idolotry toward Equality will see to it–it must, after all, if followed to its logical conclusion. After all, the vehement and passionate resistance to the conscription of males failed (up until 1973 anyway). Just look at the Draft Riots in New York City in 1863 and the draft card burnings and demonstrations of the 1960’s and 70’s–they changed nothing (until the wars were over). I am just as stridently opposed to male conscription as I am to female–so there may be a tough row to hoe one day.

    Patricia: You gotta give the Devil his due, huh?! Ahmadinejad is correct that, by and large, in the West we do not value our women. The role of house wife is disparaged and spurned, motherhood denegrated as consuming individualism, and women are valued mainly as sexual objects.
    That being said, there are many wonderful pictures of true (read Christian) womanhood in our church. I am thankful for those ladies–and for the men who provide valuable examples of how they should be treated and valued.


    April 23, 2008 at 6:26 am

  8. Matt
    I am not saying that something done willingly always legitimizes behavior but in this case willingness is the central issue. It doesn’t seem that it is inherently wrong, sinful, for an individual woman to be a solider, just that a society shouldn’t require women to serve in the military.

    I hate our culture’s idea of equality as well, but taken moderately it has some good ideas and actually can be used to elevate the different gender roles. For example: the position of the architect has historically not been held by women because it was deemed not in their class of roles. A good view of equality would say that a woman who wants to be an architect should be able to be one. She would bring to the field of architecture all of the strengths and beauty that women bring into every aspect of life. Ultimately it has brought a greater balance to the profession. What a good view doesn’t say is that women should be architects, or that there should be an equal number of women as men in architecture, or that men and women should bring the exact same strengths to the profession.

    Roles by nature are large categories and should not negatively hinder the individual. This is why a strict classification of what roles should be is ultimately as damaging to the roles as a strict equality.

    The rights and wrongs of conscription are for another day.


    April 23, 2008 at 2:39 pm

  9. Not wanting to launch into a long screed on the issue, suffice it to say that I believe the Bible, nature, and history (especially that of Western Christendom) all testify to the central issue that women should not serve in the military. The ancillary issue you mentioned in your reply is that of a woman’s role in society of which, again, I subscribe to the historical/ conservative position that runs (for the most part) contrary to both the culture’s and the Church’s modern Zeitgeist.

    I reckon we’ll just have to respectfully agree to disagree on this issue.


    April 24, 2008 at 6:40 am

  10. I rather enjoy your long screeds but if you were constantly screeding this way and that you probably wouldn’t get any work done.

    This is an undeveloped issue for me so I am still trying to pin down my convictions, as always thanks for your replies.


    April 24, 2008 at 6:59 am

  11. Matt,

    To satisfy my curiosity – what Biblical passages would you look to in order to argue that “the Bible, … testif[ies] to the central issue that women should not serve in the military”? Where does Scripture teach us that it is immoral for a woman to serve in the military?

    I enjoy reading your blog and am finally getting around to leaving a comment – so keep up the good work!

    -Eric A.


    April 25, 2008 at 8:50 am

  12. Eric–much like the doctrine of the Trinity, there is no one verse such as ‘Women shall not serve in the miitary.’ However, as the Westminster Confession of Faith tells us (I.6), ‘by good and necessary consequence [it] may be deduced from Scripture.’ In other words, one must understand the topic in light of the totality of the Bible, rather than one or two specific verses.


    April 25, 2008 at 10:47 am

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