With women being involved in more and more combat situations in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for years, the Pentagon recently decided to rescind its 1994 policy banning women in combat that kept them from holding about 230,000 combat positions in the military.
A study last year from researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco, found that female veterans reported the same rate of post-traumatic stress disorder as male veterans. The study authors found in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, 4 percent of women reported killing, 9 percent reported witnessing killing, 31 percent reported exposure to death, and 7 percent were injured in the war zone.
While one study of the 1990-91 Gulf War, 1 percent of women reported killing, 14 percent reported seeing someone dying, and 2 percent had a combat-related injury.
Some voices in the evangelical community question whether officially sanctioning women in combat defies scripture and points to a larger problem with men not fulfilling their proper societal roles while other Christian military chaplains point to biblical examples of warrior women Deborah, Jael and Judith. Retired U.S. Air Force chaplain Jan McCormack wrote in Christianity Today: "'Greater love has no one than this, that he [or she] lay down his life …' (John 15:13, NIV 1984). In all things, we are to respond to the Lord's call on our lives. No one should automatically be excluded on the basis of gender alone."
Women's rights advocates have hailed the official "shattering of the brass ceiling" as long overdue.
We asked our panelists what they thought.
Should women be allowed to fight in combat?
Amanda Greene is the editor of Wilmington Faith & Values.