Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Women in Combat Roles and Locating the Argument

With any disagreement these days, it is terribly easy to speak past each other. In most cases, this can be attributed to a failure to understand the other person's argument or, the result of failing to nail down the real issue being discussed. Take a recent debate I observed on Fox News. Apparently, there is a controversy brewing over a lawsuit that has been filed on behalf of a group of women seeking to serve in combat roles in the military.

The argument from the women, as it goes, contends that there are far more higher-level military jobs and career opportunities available to individuals who have served in combat than for those who have not. Hence, if women are ipso facto dismissed from being able to serve in combat, they are also held back from these other opportunities. Therefore, the U.S. Military is practicing discrimination based on sex and this is illegal. Where is the real argument behind the argument in this case? Is the argument located in the fact that the US Military is not subject to civil laws like discrimination? Is the argument located in the fact that men are physically superior to women in terms of battlefield abilities? They are generally faster, bigger, and stronger. Or is the argument someplace else? When we talk about women serving in combat roles, there are a number of ancillary issues that could serve as detractors from the real issue. We could talk about the issue of POWs and what will happen to female POWs in enemy military prisons. We know it wouldn't be pretty. We know it would be far worse for women than it is for men simply because of the nature of men and especially because of the nature of men hardened by battle who have spent a lot of time away from female company. But is that really where the argument rests? I don't think it is. I think the argument has to pushed back to the question that addresses the core purpose and design of the military to begin with.

The U.S. Military has a fundamental duty to protect the civil population from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. The military is a unit of individuals trained to kill the enemy if and when such killing becomes necessary. That is especially the job of the fighting units. Their primary job is to kill. Be ready to kill. Know how to kill. And they should be able to kill better than anyone else, especially better than the enemy. That is the job of a combat soldier. He is a hired killer. He stands between the enemy and the rest of us and promises us and the enemy that death will come to anyone who attempts to infringe upon the rights of the citizens. To view combat as a career opportunity indeed starts from the wrong position to begin with. Combat is not a career opportunity. It is a heavy responsibility and requires some of the most difficult work physically, emotionally, and psychologically of any work in the world. When we view combat as simply one more career opportunity, it demonstrates that we have no earthly idea what combat is really about. A person who looks at combat through that lens is unfit for the job from the start. Now, this is where the argument really rests. If we use the proponents logic, we would have no guard against actually having more women in combat roles than men. How would you like to send 10,000 female soldiers onto a battlefield against 10,000 highly trained stronger, fastest, bigger male soldiers? Yes, there are cases where a woman may be able to arrest a male counter-part in a physical match. We all know this to be true. We have heard it and some of us have witnessed it. However, it is indeed rare to see. What would happen if a 200 lb female boxer entered the ring against a trained male counter-part of the same size or even smaller? I realize that our culture would accuse me of being chauvinistic for saying this. But our culture is literally filled with dim-wits who have lost touch with reality. I could care less what the culture thinks of my comments. Any reasonable human being knows I am telling the truth. I don't want a military filled with female combatants. I want the biggest, fastest, strongest human beings around to serve in that position. And that human is predominantly going to be of the male gender.

Now, locating the argument is even more important when it comes to answering challenges to Christianity. I recently had someone challenge the authenticity of the gospels, claiming that we really have no earthly idea who wrote them. First of all, who wrote them really isn't an issue. So even if this person were able to prove his point, he would not help his case in the slightest. His cause is to call into question the credibility of Scripture. Would it matter if Matthew did not write Matthew? Since there is no claim in the text of Matthew itself, how would it hurt the credibility of the text? You see, the argument really isn't about the identity of the human author. The question of credibility comes down to textual criticism which is part of the historical method for establishing the trustworthiness of documents containing historical phenomenon. When we look at the historical method for the NT documents, the evidence is beyond anything one could ever hope for in terms of natural human investigation. Is this enough? It is nowhere near enough for the unbelieving skeptic.

Another example from this case is that the skeptic argued that Papias' testimony could not be trusted because Eusebius rejected some of the other views that Papias wrote down. The skeptic made a fatal mistake by attempting to use Eusebius as a trusted source on Papias' testimony. The reason for this is that Eusebius considered Papias' testimony concerning the gospel of Matthew to be very important and never questioned it. The argument lies in the skeptics methodology. We could go round and round on whether or not Eusebius was right or not. We could speculate about textual corruptions, etc. But the best thing to do is locate the argument. The skeptic calls on Eusebius when it suits him and dismisses him when it doesn't. This is a capricious way to argue and it falls on its face.

Locating the argument is essential if your goal is to get at truth while understanding the position of the other person. If we take the time to locate the argument, we may be surprised that we don't disagree after all. It is important to keep in mind as we all pursue truth together that we pursue it out of a love for God and for one another. What good is the discovery of abstract truth if in the process we fail to do the second greatest of all the commandments: love thy neighbor as thyself.

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