Earlier this month many Americans were saddened to hear of an American soldier who allegedly killed some 16 Afghan civilians in cold blood—most of them women and children. Although this isn’t the first time an American soldier has been accused of murder in a time of war, such incidents anger us, and rightly so. Those who have signed up for a job that centers on the protection of innocent human life are the last ones we expect to turn around and take innocent life in such a senseless manner.
Another story also recently appeared in the news related to our nation’s military and violence directed against women. Unfortunately, this time the violence was presented by the media as something newsworthy but not scandalous. In fact, in this case the violence was sanctioned by the US Army. Each year at Fort Hood, the Army holds a hand-to-hand combat competition which pits soldier against soldier, and in some cases, men against women. Those who win their matches and progress through the tournament ultimately face off in no-holds-barred cage matches. The competition is designed to help soldiers prepare for non-lethal confrontations on the battlefield. And as one Army spokesperson pointed out, soldiers do not get to pick the gender of their opponents on the battlefield. Several of the women involved in the fighting have explained their reasons for participating. They’ve typically said something about wanting to prove that they can compete head-to-head with men in combat and wanting to show that they deserve to be able to fight on the front lines.
When incidents like the killing of innocent civilians take place, people usually go searching for answers. But events like the cage matches at Fort Hood should also be cause for cultural introspection. How did we get to the place where those in military leadership think it’s a good idea to encourage male soldiers to fight women in cage matches? Furthermore, when did young men come to the conclusion that it is okay to enter a competition where those who do well will probably have to fight women and either deck or get decked?
While we may not be directly responsible for the decisions of our military, such events should remind us that we need to be teaching our boys to be men and our girls to be women. After all, they will be someday. We live in a world where many young men have had their thinking about weapons, violence, and women shaped primarily through movies, video games, and music videos. In the face of such cultural distortions, Christian men must be vigilant in teaching and modeling for their sons and other young men biblical views about such things. Likewise, young ladies must be taught that God did not create women to compete with men but rather to complete their husbands in God-honoring marriages. We are unlikely to change the policies at Fort Hood, but we are responsible to inculcate biblical principles to those within our sphere of influence.