US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted a ban on women in combat yesterday. When doing so, he said that it was “the responsibility of every citizen to protect the nation.”
Feminists are wildly cheering. Conservative Christians are freaking out. And everybody in between is taking one very big deep breath. Everyone except the bloggers, of which I am one. We’re verbal processing.
I don’t know exactly what to do with the changes in the military. I don’t know what to do because natural realities reflect supernatural ones. And I wrestle with the idea of women in spiritual warfare all the time.
I turn this idea over and over in my head because I want to believe in that age old role. The one in which I’m just to be loving and kind and gracious, and in doing so, the enemy will be turned back. But on a regular basis, God calls me to fight for others. And those fights are long, hard, tedious, dangerous, and gritty. They do require me to be loving and gracious…towards those I’m trying to protect or rescue (under the leadership of Christ). But those battles also require me to stand up and speak out. To declare statements like “this far and no farther.” To be on guard, looking for the enemies’ attack plan and to stop him. To be resolute and firm; unwavering and merciless. To push past exhaustion and fight for life in others’ lives.
I tend to want to be the princess in the castle, administering hospitality, but God calls me to be Zena, warrior princess far too often.
At some point in all this wrestling over my role, I just had to be encouraged by the stunning strength of women in scripture. When I read the bible, I see women courageously choosing to fight for what’s right, even when death for doing so is on the line (reference Esther & Rahab, as well as new testament woman martyrs. You didn’t really think that the Romans only captured men of “the way,” did you?)
When I reflected on the women in God’s word, I had to own up to the fact that Deborah really did lead a nation, and she was still a good wife. Jael really did save the nation by cunningly killing the enemy king (with a tent spike through the head). Hannah really wasn’t some meek and mild quiet gal. She gave up her most precious gift to God because she was fulfilling her word. (You better believe that took guts.) Mary really did commit a faux pas by sitting at the feet of Jesus to learn, assuming also to teach what she learned. And Jesus really did encourage it! Priscilla (f) and Aquila (m) really did teach the basics of faith to Apollos. And Priscilla was primary in that teaching.
These women were not looking for power. (No one likes or respects the woman who goes in demanding to lead.) They were women who saw that the ones they loved needed someone to protect and provide, and they were the person who could offer that protection and provision.
Too many women have been fighting the battle behind the scenes for too long, feeling guilty for doing so.
I don’t know how I feel about women in combat. As a woman who fights against human trafficking and gender violence, I’m scared for those women for sure. I am terrified for what will happen to them if they are captured. (…among a host of other things.)
But, as a woman who’s been on the front lines of spiritual battles for far too long, I would love it if some of my fellow ladies would cheer on the idea of women fighting the good fight a bit more. Perhaps, by starting with themselves. I would love if they would pick up a weapon, preferably the one God’s gifted them with, and use the opportunities they’ve been given to fight the battles before us. I wish they would give up their dreams of being Betty Crocker, and step into the mud of another woman’s life.
And to those who are fighting… The ones that I stand shoulder to should with…. I say Hoorah!
Let’s battle this thing until we too, like Paul, can say….”I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7)
Cause if you’re not fighting at this point….what are you doing?