Steph Martin

Stephanie Martin, a writer and editor in Colorado, has two teenage daughters.


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has announced that female soldiers will now be able to serve in combat roles. About a quarter of a million positions had been off-limits to women.

President Obama said the decision will “strengthen our military, enhance our readiness, and be another step toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals of fairness and equality.”

Feminist groups also praised the move, saying many women are already fighting—and dying—in places such as Afghanistan. “War is a terrible thing,” wrote columnist Sally Quinn. “Nobody should ever have to fight in one. But if we are to engage in wars, then those courageous men and women who choose to do so should be permitted. In America, we call that equality.”

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People who object to women in combat point to physical differences in females, such as less upper-body strength and the likelihood of women being raped if captured. Others voice biblical objections. “Men are designed to be the primary protectors while women are intended as the primary nurturers,” said Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “The dignity of women is to be defended by men, not undermined by vulnerability in the extreme conditions of combat.”

The Rev. Mark H. Creech said the move marks the end of gallantry. “Have men become so spineless they’re not angered that their government wants to put their girlfriends, their wives, and their daughters in the middle of such hell?” he asks. Creech referred to women as “the crown of creation” and said they’re equal to men in human dignity. “But to make them equal in every role is the highest of follies,” he said.

Some people speculate that ending this ban could lead to fewer wars and to further acceptance and advancement of women in other areas of society.

Sources: washingtonpost.com, christianpost.com

Discussion Questions:

  • How do you feel about this decision? Is it a wise move toward equality? a foolish risk? Explain. What immediate and long-term impacts do you expect this to have on the military? on America as a whole?
  • Do you think Americans might be less willing to jump into wars if we know women will be serving in combat? Why or why not? On the battlefield, what might women be better at than men?
  • In your opinion, does this decision show that chivalry is dead? Is the view that men should protect women old-fashioned? offensive? biblical? Explain.
  • If you’re a girl, do you feel vulnerable because of your gender? Do you ever go out of your way to prove that you’re tough and don’t need special treatment? Explain.
  • If you’re a boy, what kind of pressure do you feel to be “manly”? Do you treat girls with respect? Do you consider it your obligation to protect them? Why or why not?
  • What roles did God intend for men and women to fill, and how might that translate to modern-day society?
  • Should physical differences between men and women prevent women from having certain roles or opportunities? Explain. Are certain jobs or tasks better performed by a particular gender? If so, explain.
  • What limits, if any, does your church place on women? Which of those limits should be lifted, in your opinion, and why?
  • Have you ever been told you couldn’t do something because of your gender? If so, how did you react? To what degree is your gender affecting your plans for the future?

Scripture links: Genesis 2:18-23; Judges 4:9-24; Nahum 3:12-13; Galatians 3:26-28; 1 Timothy 2:11-15; and 1 Peter 3:7.

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