The Silence of Adam: Sending Women into Combat

adam_and_eveMen have a long history of silently, passively, allowing women to fight and be attacked in their stead. It began with Adam in the Garden. Adam, the head of Eve, was her husband, pastor, and lord. Yet he stood by while she faced the assaults of the devil. By his silence, he allowed her into a battle that was his to fight.

This is what the Missouri Synod has mostly done to date concerning women in combat and conscription.

In 1992 a U.S. Presidential Commission re-examined the use of women in combat. It conducted hearings inviting theological input. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod did not contribute or attend.

However, overtures condemning women in combat have been sent to the last several synodical conventions in the hope of speaking clearly to this issue, and giving protection to the women of the Missouri Synod against conscription.

[Note: The issues of women in combat and conscription go hand in hand. The rationale given by the Supreme Court for allowing women to continue to be excluded from registering for the selective service was the Department of Defense’s ban on women in combat. Once this cord is (has been!) cut, this weight will drop.]

These overtures were consistently ignored. Only in 2013, with the imminent reality of the opening of combat positions to women (and the logical result: the inclusion of women in the selective service program) was the matter finally brought to the floor of the convention. Unfortunately, the original overture, submitted by several circuits and congregations (mine included), was not brought before the convention by the floor committee. A weaker, but still helpful, resolution was brought to the floor.

The most pertinent section reads as follows:

Resolved, That the LCMS support those who have a religious and moral objection to women serving in ground combat positions and/or participating in the selective service system and being subject to a possible draft;

This is how the overture was to be presented to the convention–and was printed thusly in Today’s Business. However, before the resolution’s presentation, the committee chose to eliminate the section addressing conscription:

Resolved, That the LCMS support those who have a religious and moral objection to women serving in ground combat positions and/or participating in the selective service system and being subject to a possible draft;

The rationale, as was reported by the Reporter Online, was given by the chairman, appointed by the synodical president, of the Mercy committee, Rev. David Benke:

“Since no military draft now exists, Mercy committee members saw no need to address that issue at this time.”

How horrible that the Missouri Synod could possibly be ever so slightly ahead of the curve! Only those ignorant of the dynamics and legal history of the interrelationship between women in combat and conscription would consider this approach wise. And, yes, the committee was repeatedly made aware of this connection from within and without.

How Long Will Adam Dither?

At the 2013 convention, and amazingly to this day, I have heard similarly absurd things from people who do not understand how these issues hang together or cannot conceive of these tragedies actually coming to pass.

“That won’t happen.”

“This may make things hard for our military chaplains.”

“Don’t jump the gun.”

“We shouldn’t address the draft until it actually happens.”

“We ought to not be alarmists.”

This is as negligent as saying that there is no need to prepare for a fire because it is still two blocks away.

The 2013 resolution on women in combat directed the CTCR to “study this issue and produce a statement that can be considered and acted upon by the Synod in its next convention.” While it is neither necessary nor wise to spend the time, money, and effort on an issue so clear and so pressing, I hope and pray these men act like faithful watchmen and sound a clear note from their trumpet, though the enemy is already at the gate. The Synod needs to speak forcefully and decisively on this matter. However, looking at our track record, I fear the silence of Adam. I fear that the Synod will hide behind the excuse that there is no verse in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not send women into combat,” and thus conclude that the Bible does not forbid it.

This is a juvenile tactic, worthy of cultists who deny the Trinity and fornicators that presume living together is fine because the Scriptures don’t have the terms and sentence constructions they arbitrarily demand, and probably wouldn’t satisfy them even if they existed. These excuses are merely begging the question, for the Scriptures are plenty clear on the relationship between men and women.

The fig leaf of “no verse” needs to be stripped away from this issue.

When there’s a bump in the night, if there is a man in the house, he goes to check it out. If he sends a woman, we rightfully despise him as a coward. This is not up for debate for Christians who believe in the Scriptures. Genesis 1-2 shows God’s beautiful design for the relationship between men and women. Men are to protect and provide for women as their heads. Christ confirms and fulfills this Old Testament pattern, as the New Testament makes clear. Just as Jesus gave up His Life, died, for His Bride, so also husbands should give up their lives, die, for their wives (Ephesians 5:25). Choosing to send your wife in your place to face such a danger is not a preference, it is a sin.

What can be seen so clearly in the microcosm of the family is just as true for that grouping of families known as a people or nation. What is true for the family is doubly true for society as society is nothing more than groups of families and clans. And thus it is a sin to purposefully send women into battle or conscript them into a nation’s armed forces. This is a necessary conclusion from what we as the Lutheran Church confess concerning the orders of creation. It is a necessary and obvious exegetical deduction from the Scriptures which declare man to be the head of woman and the provider and protector of his family. (Gen. 1-2, Deut. 22:5, and Eph. 5:25)

[Note: For a more detailed argument see Pr. Heath R. Curtis’ paper from the Women in Times of War Conference, which was convened in 2008 by the Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.]

The unbiblical radical individualism (and coordinate radical egalitarianism) that has plagued Western Christendom since the Enlightenment refuses to acknowledge that the family, not the atomized and self-defining, sovereign individual, is the fundamental building block of society.

Western liberalism has run its course. The fruit is rotting on the tree for all to smell. Our armed forces will now certainly match our society—women dying for men, defending a country where men try to turn into women.

We live in a country that thinks UFC is entertainment and throws a parade for a woman who bashes and kicks other women whom God would have be treated with special consideration as vessels of life.

It is no revelation that we live in a barbarous, decadent time, yet it is the capitulation of the church to wear the whore-rags of liberation and decadent novelty that grieves me.

The idea of a woman warrior is an idea of the world, which is to say, from the devil. And what I keep hearing is that Lutherans are to engage the world, not be engaged to it.

Deafening Silence or Good Confession

Where is the “mercy” for our women? Where is the “witness” on an issue that has been building for decades? Where in our “life together” has the Synod, especially her leaders, been on this? I can’t help but see the parallels to a paper by Prof. Peter Scaer given at the Fort Wayne Symposia a couple of years ago on how tardy the Synod was to speak (on the official level at least) against abortion. But late is better than never.

Missouri, if you can’t say that it is wicked and against the Word of God for a nation of millions of families with millions of men to send their mothers and sisters and wives and daughters to face the horrors of war for their sake, then you give up everything behind it as well. We might as well stop talking about the orders of creation, headship, and the distinction of male and female. Or perhaps the real explanation to the silence of Missouri on this issue, which our forefathers wouldn’t have thought twice about, is that things such as the orders of creation were already functionally ceded long ago.

The Missouri Synod does not have a problem with liberal men. She has a problem with conservative men who are silent on issues upon which they ought to speak the Word of God.

I don’t buy it that in their bones men believe combat and conscription are meet, right, and salutary for the women in their lives whom they love. The actual problem is that modern men are afraid to tell women “No.” It is unquestionable that it is wicked and evil to purposely send women to fight and die in the place of men. Necessity, self-defense, extreme situations, yes, yes, yes, exist. But this is all besides the point that the Scriptures are clear that men are to protect women. This is a duty laid upon men, as they already confessed at their wedding:

Name of bridegroom, will you have this this woman to be your wedded wife to live together in the holy estate of matrimony as God ordained it? Will you nourish and cherish her as Christ loved His body, the Church, giving Himself up for her? Will you love honor and keep her in sickness and in health and, forsaking all others, remaining united to her alone, so long as you both shall live? Then say: I will.

(from the LSB Rite of Holy Matrimony; emphasis mine)

Men who refuse to confess this truth but rather silently stand by as their daughters, wives, granddaughters, and mothers are allowed into combat and forced into conscription are unfaithful cowards.

Does anyone actually believe that our Lord is going to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. It is in accordance with my will that women are sent by a nation’s government to suffer and die for you.”

No, I think we all know that the question will be far more along the lines of, “Where were you when the bearers of life were made bearers of the sword?—Where were you when your helpmeets and daughters were sent into combat to kill and to die?”

May we in the Missouri Synod, and especially at this time—the men of the CTCR, give a good confession before God and man and not stand in the deafening silence of Adam.


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