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Timeless wisdom on women in combat

November 1, 2012

By Jeff Robinson

With the critical presidential election looming next Tuesday, there are many issues at play within the candidates’ platforms that are of keen interest to evangelicals. One under-publicized issue that relates to gender is that of women in combat. The Obama Administration has been the most pro-women in combat presidency in U.S. history. Historically, keeping women off the front lines of combat has been a no-brainer for a nation, but no longer. Prior to his being elected four years ago, Obama made clear that he believed women should register for the draft.

“Wayne Grudem, in his excellent book on the intersection of Christianity and politics, Politics According to the Bible (Zondervan), has a brief but excellent discussion of this issue. Grudem’s discussion also quotes another important resource for Bible study, the ESV Study Bible. Here is the complete entry from page 435 of Grudem’s fine work:

Historically, the position of the United States has been that women should never be sent into combat. Women could serve in other capacities in the armed forces, but not in responsibilities where they were likely to engage in combat. In the last thirty years there has been pressure to change that policy, and we already have some women serving as fighter pilots in Afghanistan. The first female fighter pilots were employed in Kosovo in 1993, and the first woman who joined the Navy specifically to be a pilot did so in 1981.

I believe that the historic position of the United States is correct and that it is wrong to send women into combat. The biblical argument for this position is expressed well in the ESV Study Bible article on “War”:

Most nations throughout history, and most Christians in every age, have held that fighting in combat is a responsibility that should fall only to men, and that it is contrary to the very idea of womanhood, and shameful for a nation, to have women risk their lives as combatants  in a war. The assumption that only men and not women will fight in battle is also a frequent pattern in the historical narratives and is affirmed by leaders and prophets in the OT (see Num. 1:2-3; Deut. 3:18-19; 20:7-8; 24:5; Josh. 1:14; 23:10; Judg. 4:8-10; 9:54; 1 Sam. 4:9; Neh. 4:13-14; Jer. 50:37; Nah. 3:13).”

(Jeff Robinson, Ph.D., serves as editor of Gender Blog. He is elder of preaching and pastoral vision at Philadelphia Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He may be reached at [email protected]. Website:

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