Mothers Wearing Army Boots

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I was distressed
to read a paragraph in the Reporter (the national newspaper
of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod). In the October 2006 issue,
page 2, in the article entitled: “Conference
explores ways to help chaplains readjust after returning from combat
,” there is the following paragraph:

“A female
soldier is driving a supply truck at dusk in Iraq. A boy, perhaps
10, runs in front of the vehicle, but she has been trained not
to stop. She hits him and keeps driving. Back home in the States
she thinks about the Iraqi boy all the time. Especially when she
looks at her own 10-year-old son.”

First of all,
as a traditionalist Christian, I have to say that this is not the
proper vocation for a woman. We strain the gnat by exempting women
from combat duty, but swallow the camel by training them like men
(and usually with men), dressing them in masculine fatigues and
boots, outfitting them with weapons, putting them in trucks in combat
zones, and expecting (even ordering) them to run over little children.

This is not
the biblical understanding of womanhood.

God has designed
the female body from the womb up. Even her arms bend differently
than those of a man to accommodate her hips. Women are completely
designed around the uterus. Their very bodies are temples where
the miracle of life begins and is nurtured — the safest and most
gentle environment for humanity on the planet. Women are equipped
with breasts to feed and nourish babies once they have been delivered
from the womb. Women are the cultivators of life, the primary teachers
of the human race, the defenders of civilization. Theirs truly are
the hands that rule the world by rocking the cradle.

But how many
mothers are away from the cradle, neglecting their roles as the
teachers and civilizers of youth, doing something “more fulfilling”
— such as driving supply trucks in Iraq? And what has happened since
women in large numbers have abdicated their vocation as defenders
of civilization? Well, we now live in a society that expects mothers
to be soldiers and to kill children — and they do it. Their maternal
instincts and godly vocation of nurturer do not override their orders
to kill.


The article
gets it right: they have been “trained.” Women have been “trained”
to be killers, to follow and obey unconscionable orders that ought
to be refused. And of course, so have men. Most men no longer have
examples of manly and honorable fathers and grandfathers, not having
been taught by their mothers from the cradle to revere chivalry
and decency, nor to defend life and to protect the weak.

No, our mothers
are too busy wearing army boots. Remember when that was an insult?

Long gone are
the days of George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and George S. Patton.
Chivalry is dead in the American Empire. We’ve become a society
of savages, of barbarians, a culture of death that can justify even
the deliberate running over of a ten-year-old child by a mother
of another ten-year-old that she has left behind.

But at least
she feels guilty. She has good reason to feel this way. She should
have disobeyed this immoral standing order. Hopefully, she has confessed
this as a sin and has been absolved — and hopefully her pastor didn’t
just shrug off her guilt and try to convince her that she did nothing

A lot of people
argue that the killing of civilians — even women and children —
is simply necessary in order to win. Sometimes we have to bomb large
civilian cities. Sometimes we have to torture prisoners. Sometimes
we have to run over little boys. Of course, using this logic, absolutely
anything can be justified. This is the natural end of a philosophy
that “might makes right,” that “winning is not everything, but the
only thing,” that “failure is not an option.” In this worldview,
honor takes a back seat to victory. Winning comes at all costs.
There is no right and wrong in warfare — or in civilian life, for
that matter.

But there’s
also another old military bromide: “Death before dishonor.” We seem
to have forgotten that one. According to this most chivalrous motto,
losing (or even dying) with honor is preferable to winning but having
to commit atrocities in order to claim “victory.”

One of the
contributions of the Christian Church to western civilization was
the concept of the “just war.” The idea that civilians, especially
women and children, ought to be protected, that there are rules
even for the waging of war — was a great leap for civilization.
We can thank St. Augustine for his role in the practical application
of Christianity even to warfare. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect
there was a time when the students at our service academies read
and studied St. Augustine. I also suspect that they no longer do.

Hence, horror
stories like this.

has no place in a military power that justifies the murder of civilian
children in the name of winning, nor does chivalry exist in a place
where mothers are considered warriors and are encouraged to leave
their own children in order to kill someone else’s.

1, 2006

Larry Beane [send him mail]
serves as associate pastor and teaches junior high Latin and Religion
classes at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Gretna,
LA. Visit his

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