Amanda.Greene@ReligionNews.com

With women being involved in more and more combat situations in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for years, the Pentagon decided this week to rescind its 1994 policy banning women in combat that kept them from holding about 230,000 combat positions in the military. 

A study last year from researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco, found that female veterans reported the same rate of post-traumatice stress disorder as male veterans. The study authors found in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, 4 percent of women reported killing, 9 percent reported witnessing killing, 31 percent reported exposure to death, and 7 percent were injured in the war zone.

While one study of the 1990-91 Gulf War, 1 percent of women reported killing, 14 percent reported seeing someone dying, and 2 percent had a combat-related injury.

Some voices in the evangelical community question whether officially sanctioning women in combat defies scripture and points to a larger problem with men not fulfilling their proper societal roles while other Christian military chaplains point to biblical examples of warrior women Deborah, Jael and Judith. Retired U.S. Air Force chaplain Jan McCormack wrote in Christianity Today: “'Greater love has no one than this, that he [or she] lay down his life …' (John 15:13, NIV 1984). In all things, we are to respond to the Lord's call on our lives. No one should automatically be excluded on the basis of gender alone.”

Women's rights advocates have hailed the official “shattering of the brass ceiling” as long overdue.

What do you think? Should women fight?

5 Comments

  1. Melody Gordon

    I am a mother of a son who was an officer in the armed forces. My son while in uniform
    would tell me that he felt that women in his unit could never have the physical and mental stamina it calls for to be involved in combat and pull their weight. So do I think women should fight in combat? I believe that there are other venues to conquer before women have to go and fight……….like becoming President………….

  2. Natalie Lentz

    Women are by nature great fighters. We have the ability to tolerate and endure an exceeding amount of mental and physical trials. While the physicality of men equip them with bearing heavier material loads, women have an equally strong and cunning mental capacity. History serves as a reminder of many great women warriors like Joan of Arc, Deborah and Boudica, to name a few well-known examples.

    I believe women are capable of and should be able to serve in combat. This viewpoint does not minimize the role of men in combat, but rather supports the idea that a person’s ability to fight should not be based on gender.

  3. Shannon Rae Gentry

    There are many men who do not have the upper body strength of a 12 year-old girl, but they are not denied the ability to fight in a war if they so choose, because they are still categorized as men. Personally, I think we should focus more on how we can prevent people (men, women, and yes, children) from fighting and dying in combat by way of prevention, rather than arguing over who is “capable” of fighting in them.

  4. Bonny Logsdon Burns

    I thought it may be interesting to hear words from a woman who made the Army her career. She was one of the first 20 women in the United States to earn an Army ROTC scholarship to attend college. She is also my cousin.

    Nancy Wall Austin states, ‘The recent announcement of women being allowed in combat roles made me remember how far women have come. Not sure I’m completely on board with women and direct combat roles. Some will be able to cut it but the large majority will not–knowing the Army fear some could be forced into positions they are not physically able to perform. Carrying 75-100 pounds on 100-150 pound female frame over long distances is nearly impossible for most–it most certainly was for me. I never met a woman in the Army who was interested in doing it–but then, maybe that has changed as well. Also, spending days humping equipment with a bunch of dirty dudes is the reality of those positions. I think women are emotionally strong enough (maybe more so), smart enough and capable enough–but genetics in size and muscle mass is what it is. I am very proud and blessed that I had the opportunity to be a trail blazer.’

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