Christianity: Doctrine and Ethics

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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Virginia Tech Massacre

Death on a College Campus

Predictably with the massacre/suicide of thirty-three students and professors at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA the usual hoot and cry for more gun control was once again heard across the nation. The “anti-gun” crowd trotted out and gussied up its time-worn screeds about how we need more gun control to prevent events like the one that occurred at VT. Rosie O’Donnell led the charge pontificating on The View that if we had more gun control laws and if the government would act and confiscate all weapons except those owned by hunters, the type of thing perpetrated by Cho Seung-Hui would never have happened. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

What Ms. O’Donnell won’t tell you and doesn’t want you to know is that she is accompanied by one or two bodyguards who are always “packing heat.” What Ms. O’Donnell did is tantamount to Al Gore, Arianna Huffington, or Robert Kennedy, Jr. giving a “green” speech on environmentalism or global warming and then hopping in their Gulfstream 5 Lear Jet and going to their next talk on how “we” should conserve fuel and be concerned about our “carbon footprint.” Just as an aside, when liberals say “we” they mean you and me and not them. “We” is a misnomer.” There was a time when you could openly call such contradictions hypocrisy, but unfortunately the uninvolved American public has drunk the Kool-Aid and is too busy being “PC” to be bothered.

Of course the usual intellectual elite from Hollywood and from the feminist movement have added their uninformed two cents worth to the present discussion. It still remains an irony that the majority of feminists are also pacifists but still see women in combat as a step forward. Go and figure. Do you think this just might have something to do with ideology and not with consistency?

I have a solution to dealing with people like Hui and it has nothing to do with more gun control laws (frivolous and fruitless) or disarming U.S. citizens. In fact, my proposal aims at just the opposite and I want you to try to put your emotions aside for a moment and think through the problem. As an interesting adjunct, I’ll even be providing some cold, hard facts to consider in the process.

Patient/Physician Privilege

Hui was a sick, evil, and sinful puppy. I was disgusted that the news outlets looped his vitriol constantly. Showing this sinful man’s meanderings and rantings had to be a blow to those who had lost loved ones at that awful day as well as to the students who had to relive what must have been a terrifying, horrifying experience. Every “nut case” contemplating being a Columbine or Hui copy cat will look at all the notoriety and understand that he can get his or her 5 minutes of fame, even if it is posthumously. To my way of thinking, those bytes should have never been put up on the screen. Doing that was like putting the TV cameras on someone who runs out on the baseball or football field during a game. Wise networks decided a long time ago that they would not grace such stupidity by putting the cameras on such irresponsible and self-centered antics.

The state of VA had evaluated Hui and determined that he was a danger both to himself and to others. Why was that information not then passed along to his roommates? Why didn’t the administration take the necessary steps and actions? Why didn’t VA pass this medical information along to law enforcement to be put into their data base? If they had, Hui would have never passed the background check to be able to purchase a handgun. The fact is that Hui showed a number of clear “red flag” signs that reasonable people would recognize as aberrant behavior. He wrote plays about murder; he started a fire on one of the dorms; and he went for long, long periods without even speaking to his roommates, but nothing was done. In all likelihood, VT will be looking at a long line of lawsuits for negligence from parents and faculty members as well. Philip Howard’s book The Death of Common Sense definitely comes to mind.[1]

The Elimination of Guns

The best the pundits and hacks of gun control can come up with is that we need more laws controlling guns or—like Rosie—the existing guns need to be confiscated. Let me begin with the latter and work backwards. In the history of mankind there have been “defining moments” vis-à-vis the confiscation of the citizenry’s weapons. Whenever a dictator, monarch, or group wants to control the populace one of the first things they do is to confiscate their firearms. It happened in England prior to America’s colonization, it happened during the Third Reich, it happened during Stalin’s reign of terror, and it has happened with virtually every person who wants absolute control over his country.

Utopians muse about a world without guns with world peace. While we would all like to “give peace a chance” we also understand that his is not reality. Christians know and understand that man is depraved and evil (cf. Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Rom. 8:5-8; Eph. 2:1-10). Evil people do evil deeds. Therefore, the case should be—and has been—effectively made that more guns actually means less crime. The Stanford economist, Thomas Sowell, has stated, for example, that John Lott’s book More Guns Less Crime is one of the most important books of our time.[2] Sowell went on to add that the book “provides thoroughly researched facts on a life-and-death subject that is too often discussed on the basis of unsubstantiated beliefs and hysterical emotions” (Italics mine). Indeed. There are fewer subjects in our ethical repertoire were there is so much disinformation than on guns and gun laws. Unfortunately, a portion of this disinformation is disseminated intentionally by ideologues like Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Moore, and the Hollywood and media elite. So let’s attempt to take a dispassionate approach to what happened at VT recently as well as the question of guns and gun control for the populace in general and for Christians in particular.

Realistically, there are guns in the world—a relatively large number in fact—and all the wishing and utopic hoping is not going to change that. Just as there are sinners in the world, so are there guns. In addition, however, guns are not sinners and guns, by themselves, do not kill or murder people; there must be someone to pull the trigger, lanyard, or trigger the firing mechanism. You noticed I trust that I’m making a distinction between killing and murder. The 6th commandment prohibits the latter without prohibiting the former. Christians need to understand this because all too often killing and murder are lumped together and they are very distinct entities.

If some of the students at VT had been armed then without a doubt there still would have been some casualties, but I believe that far, far fewer would have been killed that day by Hui. Do you remember the incident at Appalachian Law School about five years ago? You probably don’t, because the media gave it scant attention. Why? Because what occurred there militated against their ideology. Here’s what took place there: a would-be mass murderer like Hui showed up on campus and began carrying out his diabolic scheme. Two students at the school rushed to their cars, grabbed their guns, and pinned the perpetrator down until police could arrive and subdue him. Moreover, even though some won’t admit it, knowing that people are carrying guns is an effective deterrent against such crimes. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why law enforcement officers are not accosted more frequently. The reason is that criminals know that the police officers are carrying guns. Lott’s insightful research clearly shows that where guns are more prevalent, crime lessens—which is precisely what the PC crowd does not want us to believe.[3]

In a recent column in The Orange County Register, (Sunday, April 22, 2007; Commentary, “Gun-free zone also reality-free”) syndicated columnist Mark Steyn gives us some essential insights to ponder in light of the VT massacres. First, he points out that VT was officially a “gun-free zone)—at least formally, which is always the caveat. What the administration had created at VT was really a false security. They didn’t really have a gun-free zone they simply had a sign declaring that VT was a gun-free zone. The two are very, very different. The sign is just the encouragement someone like Hui needed. He’s secure knowing that everyone is falsely secure because they think there are no guns present. That’s terrorism. Steyn correctly quips, “I think we have a problem in our culture not with ‘realistic weapons’ but with being realistic about reality” (p.4). Well said. All the prattle about more gun control and confiscating all guns doesn’t deal with reality. It is a flight into some form of utopia, which we all know means “no place.”

Second, Steyn gives the example of who he describes as “a couple of alienated loser teens” who decided that they were going to kill someone, steal his or her ATM cards, and go to Australia. The houses they attempted to enter were occupied by grumpy old men with potent handguns or 12-gauge shotguns wearing plaid shirts. So they decided they needed a new plan—even losers have their moments. So these two teens decided to do something that they hadn’t often been accused of doing: think. If their plan was not working in rural New England, where might it work? Or, where are you “most likely to encounter gullible defenseless types who have foresworn all means of resistance?” (Ibid.) It was a relatively short drive over the Connecticut River to Dartmouth College, a bastion of liberalism and liberal thinking. These two “terrorists” went to a home of two Dartmouth professors, rang the doorbell, and brutally murdered the professors precisely because they were easy targets being unarmed.

Third, as much as the media screams bloody murder about First Amendment rights, they are strangely silent when it comes to Second or Fourteenth Amendment rights. Halbrook has clearly documented that from the outset of this country was the arming of the citizenry. The Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. (Italics mine.) When it comes to the Fourteenth Amendment we often think only of the “due process” provision or “equal protection under the laws,” both of which are contained in that amendment. It’s the first part that we forget: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…” (Italics mine.) One of those privileges or immunities is the right to bear arms and, it should be noted, that the forefathers were not talking about short sleeved shirts or “wife beaters” when they referred to “bear arms.”

The pundits and hacks will continue to vilify guns. I spoke to an avid anti-gun person recently who claimed that we just needed to know how to talk and carry ourselves in situations like VT. That explanation was both horribly naïve and lame, but it was also not totally atypical of the thoughts of a number of people in America today. You cannot negotiate with a terrorist I don’t care how liberal or PC you are. Hui murdered indiscriminately because he was evil. If you plan to attempt to negotiate or reason with a murderer like Hui you will become a statistic I don’t care how many liberal professors tell you otherwise.

As a closely remark, I suggest that everyone—pro-gun and anti-gun—purchase a copy of Larry Elder’s excellent DVD documentary Michael and Me. It is one of the best investments of your time you can make especially since the murders at VT are still fresh in our minds.

Our hearts go out to all those who lost loved ones that day. There are dads and moms, wives, and others who have the deep ache of grief in the depths of their souls today because of what Hui did. There is nothing anyone can do to undo what happened at VT. In fact, there is nothing—no law or no amount of laws—anyone can 100% prevent something like this happening again. We are fallen creatures living in a fallen world. But in ethics there is good, better, best and bad, worse, worst; there are incentives to good behavior and there are deterrents to bad. Nothing and no one is 100%, however, except God.

There are, however, measures that can be taken to minimize events like VT. The first step to deterring more deranged people from acting out their hostility as Cho Seung-Hui did at VT is to take the Second Amendment seriously and to allow our citizens—after thorough and proper background checks—to arm in order to protect themselves and others.

One final note before I close this installment; this is something that has been troubling me since the day of the shooting. I found it more than revealing that professor Liviu Librescu, a 76-year-old lecturer heroically used his body to bar the door to his classroom with Hui on the other side, allowing his students to escape while able-bodied 20-something males students fled through a window. Granted, it cuts against our nature to run towards danger rather than away from it, but something is dreadfully, dreadfully wrong in a society when the young men act this way. Perhaps one explanation can be found in what FOX-News reported today. Are you ready for this? It has been determined by a panel of esteemed elitists that it’s “okay” for Gen-X men to cry in the workplace. There really is a generational divide! Maybe the service academies, military colleges, military, and police forces should tell their men the same thing. May God help us overcome this nonsense and femininity among our young men in his strength and cause those young men to have an ardent desire to return to real masculinity.

[1] Philip K. Howard, The Death of Common Sense, (NY: Random House, 1994).

[2] John R. Lott, Jr., More Guns Less Crime, Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 20002). Lott is senior research scholar in the School of Law at Yale University.

[3] Ibid., 77-79; especially Figures 4.5-4.9.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Christian Feminism? (VIII)

Lying to Emasculate the Warrior Culture
Don’t you just hate it when people lie to you? One of my most vivid recollections had to do with a parishioner from a congregation I served in a different country. It was a marriage counseling situation. The afternoon prior to the evening counseling session the wife dropped off a thick stack of photocopied phone bills. On each page there were approximately twenty phone calls to the same number: the “other” woman.
That evening as we began the counseling I asked the man if he were still having contact with the woman in question. He categorically denied it and swore that the whole sordid affair was the figment of his wife’s overactive imagination. “So you didn’t call her, say, on June the 4th of this year?” I asked. He laughed. “Absolutely not!” Then I recited the phone number to him. He looked at me askance. “You never called that number on June the 4th?” “No!” But now I could tell that he was having doubts. How did I know the number? I asked him what his cell phone number was and he told me. At that point, I reached down, took a pencil and circled the cell phone number on the bill, and tossed the packet into his lap and said, “Then explain this please.”
Of course, he was indignant, blathering, stammering, and flustered. In the final analysis, it was my fault for looking into private material and his wife’s fault for putting the material into my hands. He stormed out and the marriage ended in divorce. My point in telling this story is that when caught in his lie the man did not confess his sin—which, by the way, was forgivable—but tried intimidation tactics on me—which didn’t work—and tried making excuses for his contact with the other woman. His wife was a lousy and the “b” word.
This perhaps seems like a strange lead into a discussion of women in the military and women in combat, but I’m going to suggest—and back up—that the feminist agenda is so chocked full of ideology that lying, often with a straight face, is not considered unconscionable. As David Geffen recently said about Bill and Hillary Clinton, the frequency and ease with which they lied was chilling. With the necessary changes being made, the same applies to Feminism. The books by Stephanie Gutmann and Brian Mitchell that I have been citing in previous installments clearly document what I’m saying and are worthy of a read, especially in light of our politically correct society that is just now becoming cognizant of some of the problems that an integrated military fosters. In addition, it seems that some of our modern feminized men have no qualms with women going into combat; preferably they could go to take the place of the soft metro-sexuals. Someone asked me recently if I wanted the women to stay home, raise the children, and let the men do the rest. My answer: in general, yes, that’s my position; in particular an adamant yes when it comes to the military and combat. As a caveat: in the Christian home the man is the leader and sets the spiritual tone. He doesn’t relegate raising the children to his wife. He is the spiritual head. So, man up, guys!

The Women’s War
The auspicious New York Times or the Democratic Times of New York carried an article in the March 18, 2007 Sunday edition in the magazine section by Sara Corbett entitled “The Women’s War.” Ms. Corbett caught my attention with the first sentence: “One the morning of Monday, Jan. 9, 2006, a 21-year-old Army specialist named Suzanne Swift went AWOL” (Absent Without Leave for all the yuppies and non-combatants.) It seems that Swift’s unit—the 54th Military Police Company out of Ft. Lewis, WA—was two days away from redeploying to Iraq. Long story short: Swift didn’t return to her unit. The Uniform Code of Military Justice is swift—no pun intended—and decisive in these matters, but it hit a bump in the road: Swift was a woman and not only was she a woman but one claiming to be suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Even Corbett understood the implications of Swift’s actions: “Despite the fact that military procedure for dealing with AWOL soldiers is well established—most are promptly court-martialed and, if convicted, reduced in rank and jailed in a military prison—Swift’s situation raised a seemingly unusual set of issues.” (Italics mine.)
What might that “seemingly unusual set of issues” be? According to Swift she was suffering from PTSD—which, by the way, conveniently had not been diagnosed until after the AWOL, coupled with Swift’s allegations of “sexual harassment” and rape. According to the reports, Swift was not actually “raped” but was “manipulated into having sex…” It might surprise some, but I have no problem believing her story. My take on the matter is, however, that she should have never been in the military or in a combat (support) unit in the first place. There is simply no place for a woman in a warrior’s world.
Ever since Carter rammed women in our service academies down our throats we’ve been living a lie and operating on—at best—a double standard for men and women. And as we’ve been seeing in these articles, there is a feminist agenda looming large behind the scenes and on the front lines. What was once a more or less covert operation in the past has morphed into full-orbed attack on the warrior culture of the mentality with presidents like Carter and Clinton helping lead the charge. Mitchell is correct when he states, “Feminists…have always insisted that the attributes of a leader are neither masculine nor feminine, that virtues traditionally considered masculine or feminine can be found in both sexes, and that the military should look for an androgynous or ‘ungendered’ model of leadership not based on the ubiquitous male model.”[1]
Mitchell continues, “Attempts by the services to reconcile a masculine military and feminist philosophy have produced strange results. Service women here and there have become somewhat more masculine, but in general the military has been thoroughly feminized.”[2] In common parlance, our military is less battle ready with less unit cohesion because it has become a social experiment for the politically correct crowd and a generation absorbed with G.I. Jane and the insistence of having women on S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams. Lives are compromised and unit effectiveness lessened. As early as 1986—just barely a decade after the first women entered the Air Force Academy—the Army published a definition of the “warrior spirit” “that said nothing about combativeness, aggressiveness, an eagerness to fight, a willingness to die, or the courage to kill.”[3]
Our modern culture and metro-sexual, metro-spiritual men don’t see a problem because they grew up with political correctness and see this a “business as usual,” but when you go below the surface appearances, there are myriad serious problems and Ms. Corbett has just touched on a very few in her article. In “our time” men have lost their “raisins” and with all the posturing and angry ideologues running around we’ve created a recipe for disaster. No one seems to have the “huevos” anymore “to approach the issue of women in the military as one would any other issue, analyzing it with cold rationality in the simple terms of costs versus benefits.”[4] What price are we paying for this social experiment in the warrior culture? In brief, we’re paying a very high price indeed not only in loss of unit cohesion and effectiveness, but in other areas such as higher rates of attrition among women, greater need for medical care, higher rates of “non-availability,” lower rates of deployability, lesser physical ability, aggravated problems of single-parenthood, dual-service marriages, fraternization, sexual harassment, sexual promiscuity, and homosexuality, “all of which adversely affect unit cohesion, morale, and the fighting spirit of the armed forces,”[5] even though Bill Clinton still thinks “don’t ask, don’t tell” was a good policy.
This change in mentality has had a huge ripple affect on our military and even the experts do not yet know what the results will be. Currently, we have approximately 18,000 women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since our experiment in the military has swung into full force (Kate O’Beirne [Women Who Make the World Worse], reminds us, “Throughout recorded history, men have fought their nations’ wars. [Only the French looked to a teenage girl to lead them in battle], p. 113) more females have been killed in combat than any other time.[6] When we compare our current situation with Vietnam, the differences are striking, staggering, and to those who still have a masculine conscience, chilling. During Vietnam, women made up about 1% of U.S. troops.[7] In the entire Vietnam War only eight women lost their lives (of the 58,000 that died) and they were all unarmed nurses.[8]
The upshot of this is that from a strict cost-benefit perspective, “the military use of women makes sense for only a handful of jobs, largely in the medical professions, where the military’s need for doctors, nurses, and medical specialists well outweighs any difficulty of using women. For all other military jobs, the only reason to use women is not a military reason.”[9]
All this brings me back to Corbett’s article The Women’s War. What she misses—badly—is that this is not merely an isolated event or set of events that only touches, tangentially, a handful of women, but is rather a problem that strikes at the heart of our country’s military preparedness and readiness. When there is a mixture of women and men in a situation that is unbiblical and unnatural there are going to be problems. The feminists believed that they could feminized the armed forces and make them a “kinder, gentler” military. For example, on October 26, 1997 Sara Lister, then assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, told a group of scholars, journalists, and military personnel, “I think the Army is much more connected to society than the Marines are. The Marines are extremists.”[10]
Much to Ms. Lister’s surprise, General Charles Krulak, one of those “extremists,” who was then commandant of the Marines told the media that her words “summarily dismiss 222 years of sacrifice and dedication and dishonor the hundreds of thousands of Marines whose blood has been shed in the name of freedom.”[11] What was the Army’s response? The typical, liberal, cover your backside, politically correct claptrap: they claimed that Ms. Lister’s comments were “taken out of context.” (Aren’t you about as tired of that hackneyed phrase as you are of he one, “Well, you just don’t understand me”?) Some things in life are still very predictable. William Cohen, Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, said that he was satisfied with her apology. Thankfully, many members of Congress weren’t. House Speaker Newt Gingrich demanded Lister’s immediate dismissal for such outlandish statements and within 24 hours Lister was removed from her post. Lister is typical of the feminists who want to feminize the military. But here is the proper perspective: “The Marines self-consciously train warriors, and compared to the new, more motherly Army, the Marines are indeed extreme.”[12]
The “extreme” aspect of the new military is not the Marines, but the feminization of our country’s readiness. At one Naval training center drill instructors carry cards reminding them not to “apply any punishment that might cause a recruit ‘undue embarrassment,’ while recruits carry ‘stress passes’ they can trade for a convenient time-out when the going gets too tough.”[13] Instead of military preparedness, the modern military is more concerned that recruits receive the proper emotional support and counseling in stress reduction and self-esteem. Helpful. And of course there is the ubiquitous sexual harassment seminar that wastes even more time.
At this time, no other military in the world depends as heavily on women as the U.S. armed forces. Next to Israel and Canada (11%) no other country has a military of more than 3.5% female. Germany, Spain, and Italy have virtually no women in their armed forces and Russia checks in with only 0.7%, and they perform mostly clerical and medical jobs. Mitchell puts it in perspective when he says, “It has been twenty-one years since women first forced themselves into the federal service academies, where they have shattered tradition, fractured morale, and confused the academies’ purpose—which is to train combat officers.”[14] I will argue in subsequent articles that this very mentality has not only infiltrated society in general, but can also be found within the walls of the Church as well.
Not only has this experiment been a dismal failure, but it has created far more problems than it has solved. The hard, unvarnished truth is that women in the military and their expanding presence “is destroying the military’s body and soul.”[15] Unfortunately, far too few care that this is happening. They’re so busy drinking the Kool-Aid that they have come to believe that this is actually a good thing: women in combat. Moreover, “The widely known but unaccepted truth is that most of what our senior civilian and military leaders tell us about women in the military is a lie.”[16] Anyone who has ever served in the military knows that a certain unpleasant “thing” rolls down hill. Even ranking officers—I’m talking generals and admirals—have lost their entire military career because of Feminism and its rabid ideology.
How have we been lied to? Let me count the ways! In the first place, it is clearly, clearly a lie that military women are meeting the same standards as men. Like it or not, women are constantly given preferential treatment. Suzanne Swift’s case is merely one of many. AWOL is dealt with decisively, but not in her case. (I have sat on military court martial boards, so I speak from experience. By and large, the preponderance of our cases were male AWOLs.) Many promotions among the females are based on quotas, but “our time” would never admit that. It’s just one of those elephants in the room that no one wants to acknowledge.
Second, it is a bald-faced lie that women meet the same physical requirements as men. It simply is not true. Integrated basic training classes now have two different obstacle courses or give women an undue advantage with their times. This flies in the face of equal pay for equal work. You can’t have it both ways. If you want to be equal then be equal.
Third, it is a lie that the presence of women has served a positive effect on military readiness. In point of fact, the military has been “softened” in the bad sense of the term. When the going gets tough the armed forces lower the standards for women to ease off on the attrition rate statistics. “The modern military’s emphasis on self-esteem and ‘positive motivation,’ inspired by the need to protect women from the harshness of military life, has led the military to an excessive reliance upon leadership and a potentially fatal neglect of discipline.”[17] While the men are being feminized, the women, in turn, are being masculinized. For example, when Corbett described Swift he wrote, “Swift has blond hair, milky skin and clear green eyes, which lend her the vague aspect of a Victorian doll—albeit a very tough one. (Thanks, I needed that.) She curses freely, smokes Newports and, when she’s not in uniform, favors low-cut shirts that show off an elaborate flower tattoo on her chest.” My point precisely.
This mentality is not merely prevalent in the armed forces, but can also be easily found permeating our society and, to a greater or lesser degree, also in our modern churches. The scholar David Wells describes what is occurring in evangelicalism this way: “What I suggest is that there are currently three main constituencies in evangelicalism. There is one in which the historical doctrines of evangelical believing are still maintained and even treasured. There is on that is oblivious to these doctrines and considers them an impediment to church growth. Finally, there is one that is thumbing its nose at both of these first two constituencies, in the one case because its orthodoxy is too confining and in the other because its church life, glitzy as it may be, is too empty.”[18] Wells goes on to suggest that some much of what occurs in evangelicalism today goes unchallenged that aberrant notions and theologies have become firmly entrenched and their seeming “success” has made individual Christians and denomination invulnerable and impervious to counter arguments.[19] The upshot of modern Christianity and modern Christians, in general, is that “They have no Christian worldview, they exhibit no Christian character, and they show no Christian commitment.”[20] Rather, modern Christians would rather bicker and quibble about someone like Deborah than admit that women have no place in combat; than explain to a “professional” woman coming into the church that certain roles are not open to her even though she is created fully in the image of God.
So we fudge, try to hide the fact that women are our “worship team leaders,” lead men in prayer in worship, and regularly teach me in church settings. Given the way things are in the world, why not have women in comparable positions in the church? And so our words and actions become self-serving and self-referential. This has certainly been the case with women in combat and it is rapidly becoming the case in mainline Christian denominations. Yes, times change. We are all aware of that. But some things don’t change, do they? The nature of sin hasn’t changed since Adam and Eve and neither has the meaning of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross.
If we take nothing else from the current debates about women in combat, Feminism, and the place and roles of women in the Christian Church we should take this: “When all is said and done, Christianity is about truth (Italics Wells) and at the heart of that truth is the gospel, sola gratia, sola fide, in solo Christo. If Christianity is not about what is enduringly, eternally true (Italics mine), in all places of the world, in every culture, in the same way, in every time, then there is not reason to strive to find the most accurate ways of stating what it is, nor in other parts of the world would there be any reason to face persecution for it. But across time people have struggled to know it, because in knowing it they have come to know God whose truth it is and some have had to die for it. Who, one wonders, would want to die for something that was only true at some point in time, to some person, and not for all people in all places and times, or who would want to die for something that actually is not that important in the life of the church, which can be quite successful without it?”[21]There is still time for conscientious Christians to do something about these problems, but time is running out. God grant that we stop playing “pitty-pat” ball and really step up to the plate and act like being a biblical Christian really means something.

[1] Brian Mitchell, Women in the Military, Flirting with Disaster, (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 1998), pp. 338-339.
[2] Ibid., 339.
[3] Ibid. Emphases mine.
[4] Ibid., 340.
[5] Ibid.
[6] By June 2005, 37 female soldiers had been killed in Iraq.
[7] O’Beirne, Women, 114.
[8] Ibid. 114-115. Italics mine.
[9] Mitchell, Military, 340-341. Italics mine.
[10] Ibid., xi.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid., xii.
[13] Ibid., xiii.
[14] Ibid., xvi.
[15] Ibid., 341.
[16] Ibid., 341-342.
[17] Ibid., 342.
[18] David Wells, “Foreword,” in Gary L.W. Johnson & Guy P. Waters (eds.), By Faith Alone, Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), p. 15.
[19] Ibid., 16.
[20] Ibid., 17.
[21] Ibid., 19.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Christian Feminism? (VII)

NOW, Feminism, Hillary Clinton, the Military, and the Church
The Orange County Register (3.29.07) ran an article on page 10 entitled, “Clinton receives NOW endorsement, affirms feminism.” To any sane person, and especially any Christian, this ought to be substantially adequate information to prevent them voting for her for anything, let alone as President of the United States. Ironically and sadly, a number of secularists as well as some Christians will have little or no problem with the fact that the Democrat Senator from NY is either lying or just giving us some chilling truth. At any rate, these endorsements and Senator Clinton’s reply give me every right to assert that no Christian should be voting for such a candidate, if, indeed, she becomes a candidate. Her stance on key issues is antithetical to the Christian ethic.
NOW also has, since the days of Kate Millet’s admission to being a lesbian, supported and embraced lesbianism. The former president of NOW, Patricia Ireland, had a lesbian relationship while she was married. (Maybe she wasn’t a hardcore lesbian, but just a chic bisexual.) In addition, NOW endorses abortion (as part of a woman’s reproductive rights), women in the military, including their being sent into combat, and being placed in overall “power” positions in society. Part of the irony of NOW vis-à-vis the military (don’t ask them to be consistent) is that a lion’s share of feminists tend to be pacifists such as Hanoi Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Cindy Sheehan, and the Code Pink organization. The very fact that NOW would endorse women in the military and women in combat cuts against their mainline tenets of Pacifism.
Not so oddly (NOW did the same thing with the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky debacle), the various women’s organizations have been strangely silent about British female sailor, Faye Turney, and her recent capture by the Iranians. Of all groups in American culture we should expect them to be one of the most vociferous not only about Turney’s capture but also about the blatant, obvious lies of the Iranian government that the British ship was in Iranian waters. GPS data proves that the ship was 1.7 nautical miles inside of Iraqi waters at the time of the capture. This is clearly a silence of convenience. Moreover, the pro-women-in-the-military facets of the Pentagon and the upper echelons of our armed forces are also strangely silent.
What the military doesn’t want you to know is that a captured female not only has to face the very real possibility of torture, but that extra money has had to be spent on conditioning and training the males when they hear a female scream under the pain and duress of torture.[1] While we’re carping about extremely mild forms of “torture” (loud music, sleep deprivation, bright lights, water boarding), other rogue nations use torture freely, widely, and in its most grotesque and cruel forms. I just thought you, some parts of our armed forces, and the women’s organizations could use this tidbit of factual information. But, some may ask, what about Israel? After all, most of us have heard stories about women serving in the Israeli armed forces. Doesn’t this prove that women can serve and serve well in the military?

Amazons, Israeli Women, and Other Myths
The garden variety man or woman on the street has come to believe the oft-repeated lie that women in Israel did and still do play an integral role in that country’s military. That is about as true as the fabrication of the female Amazon warriors. Of course, like most myths, they can also reside in “high places.” For example, in 1979 the House Armed Services Committee asked Antonia Handler Chayes—Jimmy Carter’s undersecretary of the Air Force—about women in combat. Her reply was to the effect that our views of women fighting and killing was more or less a “cultural concept” that does not necessarily correspond to the truth. To make her point she said, “Look at the Amazons.”[2] No one questioned her, but more complete data indicate that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to look at the Amazons because they never really existed. And yet, the myth of the female Amazon warrior has been perpetrated for so long that most accept the myth as fact.
A little known author, Abby Weltan Kleinbaum, professor of social science at the City University of New York, researched her book The War Against the Amazons, only to conclude that they did not, in fact, exist.[3] So there is a definite ideological agenda along with a bit of romanticizing of women in combat and ruling society. Mitchell surmises that “It was the very barbarity of a society ruled by women that excited their imagination, not the actual or possible existence of such a society.”[4]
Mitchell also informs us that “Many myths—like the nonexistent Amazons—have served to advance the cause of military women. The most popular is Israeli women. The tough but womanly Israeli sabra who bravely deals death to the enemies of her embattled nation is almost entirely a creation of Hollywood.”[5] Why are we not surprised? What other segment of society is so out of touch with reality and mainstream America than Hollywood? The myth of the female Israeli “Delta Force,” “Navy SEAL,” “Marine Recon,” or “Air Force Para-Jumper” is just that: a myth. How did this myth come into existence?
Probably because around 1948 a handful of women did see combat. The result of inserting women into combat suffered from a twofold dose of the Law of Unintended Consequences. In truth, “their presence resulted in both sides suffering higher casualties. Israeli men risked their lives and missions to protect their women, and Arab troops fought more fiercely to avoid the humiliation of being defeated by women.”[6] When you strip all the mythology and unsubstantiated hype away the reality is that Israeli women played a miniscule role in that war or any other Israeli war for that matter and that their roles were “strictly subordinate and supportive.” In fact, “Most served as radio operators, nurses, quartermasters, or couriers.”[7] In today’s Israeli armed forces “the Israelis use women far more conservatively than most NATO nations.”[8] Did you know that? Most don’t because we’ve been taught by the politically correct crowd that Israeli women are to be our models for the contemporary female warrior type. Almost all Israeli women serve in what is called the Chen branch of the military, which means that “They do not serve as pilots, nor on ships, nor where there are no shower facilities.”[9]
One Chen colonel explained, “And even if a girl could drive a truck, where would she drive it in wartime? To the front. And we don’t send girls to the front in wartime.”[10] Moreover, “Israeli law requires that women be evacuated from the front in the event of hostilities…. Chen women do not have equal status with male soldiers. They are paid less and serve only two years instead of three for men. Training for both officers and enlisted personnel is segregated by sex.”[11] And after basic training, “the only time most Chen women carry weapons is on parade, a photo opportunity for journalists interested in perpetuating a myth.”[12] This kind of myth is perpetrated here in the U.S. as well. When you see a commercial for the U.S. Army and you see a woman carrying a M-16, you should remember that the U.S. Army does not have one female infantryman…uh, person. There are also no female tankers, Rangers, Delta Force, SEALs, Marine Recon, or Air Force Para-Jumpers. The TV visual is a ruse.
If we want an example of integrating women fully into the military, we should not look at Israel, but at Canada, whose experiment can rightly be termed “the fog of peace.”[13] Canada’s Human Rights Commission—you just have to know that this commission is comprised of leftist, feminist ideologues—became upset about the exclusion of females from combats. Obviously their subscription to Amazon Warriors has lapsed along with their common sense. This illustrious commission ordered the director of Canadian land personnel “to open all your occupations to women with the exception of submarine service.”[14] I suppose no Amazon ever served in subs.
The entire Canadian Army is about the size of the New York City Fire Department—that, by the way, is not a joke; it’s the truth. The initial response was, in a word, underwhelming. Out of one hundred applicants, only one passed basic training: twenty-two-year-old Heather Erxleben, “a former timber hauler and construction worker.”[15] The entire undertaking has been and remains a dismal failure. This social experiment by the Canadian Army is akin to Socialism and socialized medicine. Our attitude here seems to be: well, it didn’t work there, but we can make it fit here because we are so much smarter. Wrong. Both Socialism and women in combat didn’t work in Europe and Canada because they were bad ideas just waiting for their time to fail.

The Church is Not Exempt
I use the above as introductory material to point out that the mainline tenets of feminism did not die in the middle of the 1970s, but are alive and well in all areas of society today, including the Church, and also including some of our ostensibly “cutting edge” Presbyterian Church in America church plants as well as organized churches. The concept of the “domino theory” is disdained almost as much as the “proof texting” mentality, but each of these contains their own elements of truth.
What occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s was a kind of Copernican Revolution without bras. After Feminism really picked up steam in the early to mid 1970s, “It challenged and redefined every niche of human existence.”[16] Feminists were of the opinion that all of life’s meaning was defined by men and that arbitrarily. It was around that time that the buzz words “patriarchy” and “patriarchal” began to come into common usage among feminists. Kassian is not exaggerating when she reminds us that Feminism truly challenged and redefined every niche of human existence—including the Church. For those of us old enough to remember, the halcyon yet poor days of our seminary study were interrupted by the sometimes shrill voice of feminist theologians, generally mouthing the platitudes of their secular counterparts.
Kassian is also correct when she states that “as the philosophy of feminism spread, it challenged society to make women’s experience a reference point for determining life’s meaning.”[17] She chronicles how Feminism profoundly impacted and influence language and literature studies, psychology, theology, sociology, motherhood, and politics. Interestingly, Kassian also demonstrates how the concept of “holistic medicine” evolved, in part, because of a conspiracy theory that “doctors regarded pregnancy, childbirth, menstruation, menopause, and all the other functions unique to women as problematic rather than natural…”[18] The devotees were encouraged to turn from medical science to Eastern mysticism and to the practices of witches. It can be reasonably argued that some are still riding their brooms.
Along with this theory was the concomitant proposal that the Church was anti-scientific, anti-sexual, and anti-female doctrines. “Feminists therefore advocated that women return to self-awareness, imagery, ritual, reflexology, acupuncture, auras, gemstones, magic, and any other modality of treatment or prevention that had been, in the past, practiced by women.”[19] This is difficult to square with their accusation against the Church of being anti-scientific since a number of the practices of witches would hardly qualify as science.
In the area of the Church, as we have seen in previous installments, feminists “received a boost in the nineteenth century from the belief, common in many Protestant Christian churches, that women were morally superior, though today feminists often denounce Christianity as a male religion.”[20] Within the realm of possibility, we can conceive that much of the modern rhetoric about the so-called “women’s issues” in the PCA can be traced—directly or indirectly—back to these sentiments. But if we are willing to stick to Scripture and our Presbyterian tradition, many, most, almost all of these issues rapidly become non-issues.
I look at some of the accusations leveled at our Women in the Church organization as analogous to the difference between female officers and enlisted personnel. I use this analogy because I’ve heard some of our “cutting edge” PCA pastors referring to the educated women in their respective congregations as “professional women.” (No that does not refer to the second oldest profession.) What they mean is that these women occupy “important” positions in society—doctors, lawyers, Ph.D.-types, and the like—and cannot understand why they can be a CEO, CFO, IED, BLT, HR in society and not be able to be in “leadership” in the Church. Okay, okay. I made some of those up. I’ve never heard an educated woman suggest that she was a Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwich. Clearly, there is a teaching opportunity here to instruct these educated women to submit to the truth of Scripture.
The analogy is paralleled by “educated” (or brainwashed) female officers who often express “resentment, sometimes anger, at emerging career constraints without the military.”[21] While enlisted women tend to carp, gripe most about conditions in the field, the lack of privacy, having to use a slit latrine, and unwanted lesbian advances, female officers defined sexual harassment “as anything that offended their feminist sensibilities, including sexist language, traditional sex roles, and combat restrictions.”[22] That leaves the field wide open and subjective at best. Apparently, there are some—and I’m inclined to believe that it is a decided minority—who are pushing the envelope in PCA church plants as well as in some established churches to accommodate these “professional” women. Special deference is paid to them because of their position similar to the way that some “suck up” to the wealthy, which, when you think about it, seems to be contrary to what James talks about in his New Testament wisdom literature letter. Why can’t we simply be satisfied with a practical view of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture and our tradition found in the Westminster Standards or Three Forms of Unity?

[1] See Brian Mitchell, Women in the Military, Flirting with Disaster, (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 240. For example, in Air Force’s SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) training now includes the near impossible task of training the male pilots to be impervious to a woman screaming while being tortured, which is no easy feat. Not only this, but Air Force Academy student, Elizabeth Saum, a feminist darling thought it would be “cool” to be a pilot and attend SERE training, which is painful, humiliating, scary, and realistic. Torture techniques are as realistic as possible including sleep and food deprivation. Part of Saum’s realistic training included simulated rape. Mitchell writes, “When combat planes were opened to women, male servicemen started getting SERE training designed to ‘desensitize’ them to the cries of female fellow POWs, so in addition to standard does of starvation, isolation, filth, and battering noise, women got rape, or as the Air Force called it, ‘the rape scenario’” (p. 240). The upshot of Saum’s SERE training was that she came “unglued” during the simulated rape and sexual harassment language used by the trainers and sued the Air Force for sexual harassment incurred in routine training, which she believed had destroyed her self-esteem. Way to go, Amazon warrior!
[2] Hearings before the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, Subject: Women in the Military, 11.13-16.1979 & 2.11.1980, pp. 55-56.
[3] Cited in Brian Mitchell, Women in the Military, Flirting with Disaster, (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 184.
[4] Ibid., 185.
[5] Ibid. End italics mine.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid., 186
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid., 187.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Germany, Spain, and Italy have no women in combat arms. France…well, never mind.
[14] Quoted by Stephanie Gutmann, The Kinder, Gentler Military, (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2000), pp. 265-266. Italics mine.
[15] Ibid., 266.
[16] Mary Kassian, The Feminist Gospel, (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1992), p. 71.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid., 77.
[19] Ibid., 78.
[20] Mitchell, WIM, 183.
[21] Ibid., 179.
[22] Ibid., 179-180.