I’m a little puzzled by radio host Janet Mefferd’s views about American women in combat.
Janet Mefferd is a Christian radio host who appears to be a gender complementarian and Reformed in doctrine (she interviews a lot of Reformed guys and seems to agree with their take on doctrine – unfortunately.)
I did not even want to listen to this segment (so I did not plan on writing about it).
I tuned into Mefferd’s show to listen to her interview some guy over his lawsuit against a preacher who was harassing him (Link: “Bill O’Neil talks about the Sovereign Grace Ministries lawsuit”).
I tuned in expecting to hear O’Neil but instead, Mefferd begins the show discussing the role of women in the American military.
In this show, Mefferd quotes a long piece by someone at Vision Forum approvingly. I believe that “Vision Forum” is into that patriarchy and (Link:) Quiverfull lunacy, if I’m not mistaken.
The piece Mefferd quotes from ‘Vision Forum’ mentions that women are the weaker sex, and she raised other points against the idea of women serving in the military (in combat positions).
I think Mefferd is forgetting that God placed a woman, Deborah, as a political and military leader over Israel. Deborah led the army of Isreal into battle (mentioned in Judges Chapter 4; and (Link:) you can read more about her here).
Another woman, Jael, drove a tent peg through the head of a sleeping Israeli enemy who sought her protection (see (Link:) Judges 4:21). If God doesn’t have an issue with women being violent, aggressive, and going on the attack (and He does not if the situation warrants it), I have no idea why Mefferd of gender complementarians do.
At one point, Mefferd says, “When you place women on the same level as men, men will begin to treat women like men.”
Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
For one thing, Jesus Christ sought to ‘treat women like men,’ if you follow the Gospels: back in His day, Jewish culture taught that women were inferior to men, rabbis should not teach women (I think women were permitted back seat access to temple services but that was about it), etc.
Notice that Jesus treated women as equals to men. He did not talk down to them. He taught them serious doctrine. Jesus treated them as moral and intellectual equals to the males of His day… and all of this behavior SHOCKED his Jewish disciples. It was scandalous.
In the book of Genesis, God tells Adam and Eve that an outcome of the fall (sin entering humanity) is that men will rule over women (which was not God’s plan), and that women will seek this out – they will seek to be ruled (and this is called codependency – meaning, women looking to human males to be their saviors, instead of trusting completely in God).
One reason I object to all this hand-wringing over females serving in the military is that there are situations where a woman is going to be alone and without male protection in civilian life, so the whole point of a female being shot and killed in combat is rather moot.
Some Christian women never get married. Such women don’t have a husband to count on, to financially support them, or to defend them.
Then you have women whose husbands divorce them in their 30s or 40s or later, or their husbands drop dead of heart attacks, cancer, or auto accidents while in their 30s or 40s or older – and these women are left all alone.
A woman may face life alone; she cannot always count on a man (specifically, a husband) to care for her and defend her. A woman should be able to care for herself.
Teaching this concept that a woman is a little weakling who must have a man to protect her and that women are inherently too mentally or physically weak to look out for their own welfare, as Mefferd is doing, actually does more harm to women.
Women have to be able to stand on their own, because there may not always be a male in their life to watch over them.
Also, teaching women not to think for themselves, not to make their own choices, to depend on men, etc, makes them vulnerable to being targets to abusive men.
If you read any works by therapists, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists about women in abusive relationships, who continually wind up with abusive boyfriends or husbands, or women who go through life as doormats being abused by males and females, who are easily duped and conned, one theme of all of these females is that their very submissive, passive, sweet, trusting, naive, unwilling- to- stand- up- for- themselves- and- give- deserving- jerks- the- smack- down, characteristics (which are the same ones held up as being “biblically feminine” by Christian gender complementarians)….
Are the very same qualities that abusive or narcissistic people seek in their victims, because such women are easier to control and manipulate than women who have healthy self esteem and who fight back and who do not suffer mistreatment in silence.
It is remarkable to me that these Christian gender complementarians are raising females to be victims! Apparently, the gender complementarians want women to attract abusive or selfish dirt bags.
Then, once these doormat Christian females marry the dirt bag and seek advice from a pastor on what to do, the pastor gives them the unfounded, wrong, dangerous, unbiblical advice to “submit even more” to the creep and to never, ever divorce the loser who is emotionally or physically abusing them.
I cannot understand why Mefferd finds the idea of a woman getting a leg blown off in combat more horrifying than a man getting a leg blown off in combat. How is a woman’s leg more worthy than a man’s leg?
Maybe because I don’t view all women as helpless, dainty little flowers as she does – the older I get too, I don’t buy that all men are tough. I see more and more men admit to having deep feelings of fear, insecurity, and other flaws, all of which women have too – but men have been socially conditioned to hide all those feelings.
I have to go on a ranty tangent on this for a moment.
It’s considered socially acceptable for American males to express anger, but not many other emotions, while the direct opposite is true for American women.
American women are permitted to feel or express almost every emotion but for anger.
Notice here again Jesus Christ – who is to be our role model – expressed ALL these emotions.
Jesus could be a tough guy – he tangled with his powerful religious opponents. And who doesn’t remember his anger when driving the money changers out of the Temple? His harsh rebukes of his disciples when they displeased Him?
But that same Jesus did not try to hide when he felt afraid, unsure, tired, or sad – remember the Bible verse “Jesus wept,” or how, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked the Father to spare Him of the cross; Christ once compared Himself to a mother hen (who longed to take Jerusalem under his wings).
Jesus felt and freely expressed the whole host of emotions God gave to both genders.
Your typical biblical gender complementarian, though, sees the Bible, or gender roles, through a prism of American culture and still expects women to act like little helpless, coy, feeble, delicate things, and males to act like strong, decisive, fearless, tough guys.
Instead, gender complementarians should be encouraging both genders to totally emulate all of Christ, which means allowing the expression of all traits and actions He did: sadness, gentleness, fear, toughness, anger, compassion, nurturing, arguing, debating, teaching both genders, fierceness, empathy, etc.
The Bible calls me, through the Holy Spirit, to emulate Jesus Christ and NOT June Cleaver of the “Leave It To Beaver” series, Ruth Martin (Timmy’s mom on the old “Lassie” show), or Mrs. Brady of “The Brady Bunch” television series.
Sometimes Jesus fought, was tough and kicked butt and chewed people out. Jesus didn’t always sit about being passive, agreeable, and sweet to everyone all the time, in every situation.
Mefferd at one point in her radio show chides women for being sexually promiscuous (but not a word about men being promiscuous – or does she expect that only women can or should have virtue? Why do males get a pass at celibacy? They are expected to sleep around, so I guess that makes it “okay”), and she hails the 1950s as the “golden age of America” (or she makes some such comment about the 50s – it’s on her show, you can (Link:) listen to it yourself. I am to lazy to go back and listen again to get the exact quote).
I dig 1950s American culture as much as the next person – the poodle skirts and rock and roll music were cool – but really, conservative Christians (and I’m speaking as a conservative Christian) need to stop idolizing 1950s culture.
If you are a Christian, the Bible and Jesus Christ are to be your standard for conduct and relationships, not re-runs of black and white episodes of “Leave It To Beaver.”
I hate to tell Mefferd this, but secular feminism is not entirely at the root of all of America’s cultural disintegration.
I’d say part of it may be liberalism, the new atheism, and secular feminism, and other such factors, but some of it is also negligence or the wrong set of priorities by conservative Christians.
If American Christians actually did what the Bible instructs them to do, such as…
- weeping with those who weep,
- caring first and foremost for hurting believers in the church and catering to their practical needs (the Bible says suffering Christians in your local body of believers are to take precedence over Non- Christians, orphans, widows, etc, but the U.S. church has this backwards),
- and start helping unmarried people (the never married, divorced, widowed),
then that might go a long way of shoring up American culture – not railing and ranting against secular feminism, homosexuality, and abortion all the time. (To see more on this topic, please see (Link:) this previous post.
No, I do not support aspects of secular feminism, the normalization of homosexuality, availability of abortion, etc., nor am I saying Christians should remain totally silent on those issues or stop voting.
However, the church directing all its energy and attention to those issues means they are neglecting being pro-active in helping divorced Christians, single Christians, etc. – which causes some of them to leave the church, and it’s a poor witness to agnostics and atheists who have considered becoming Christian.
I have one friend who has pretty much left the Christian faith over this stuff, and an agnostic friend who hates most Christians because of it.
They don’t see Christians actually helping and loving other people; they only see Christians neglecting to care for others, but spending all their time and money ranting against liberals, abortion, etc.
Although I will say that my Christian friend who I mentioned above who is drifting towards agnosticism feels that Christians need to be fighting secular culture even more than they have.
My friend who is now a borderline agnostic feels that most Christians have been too wimpy and passive and that’s why Christians have lost the culture wars – but I disagree with her on that.
The “Christian right” has been battling secular culture, speaking of its evils, pushing the religious right to the polls, and forming groups such as “Focus on the Family” over the past 20 to 30 years to raise awareness and sending spokesperson on to cable television shows to voice their views, and it’s not put a dent in the decay of culture.
Maybe the old saying about “Instead of cursing the dark, light a candle” has some merit.
Anyway, I tuned in to Mefferd’s show expecting to hear one topic but had to instead sit through a polemic about women serving in combat, which I did not enjoy since Mefferd is apparently a gender complementarian and I am a biblical gender egalitarian, and her views on the “women in combat” subject are predicated on false, unbiblical, sexist views about women.
I’ve listened to Mefferd’s other broadcasts, and I have enjoyed her other shows and agree with her on other issues much of the time, but on this one subject, she and I part company.
Related blog posts (on other blogs:
John Piper, Women in Combat, and How Gender Roles Fall Short of the Glory of Humankind: