97 theses on man’s duty to protect woman

When a man loves a woman he will lay down his life to defend her, just as Christ loved His Bride and gave Himself up for Her. Men have proudly fulfilled this duty from time immemorial, demonstrating what A. A. Hodge in his commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith referred to as the law of nature, common to all nations, that is “unchanged” to this present day. Dying for their wives, regenerate and unregenerate men have done “by nature (the) things required by the law” (Romans 2:14)…

As part of the recent rancher standoff with federal Bureau of Land Management agents in Nevada, one of the leaders of those prepared to resist the BLM spoke of their plan to put women in the front lines of the resisters because of the bad press that would produce for the feds if they opened fire. The fact that these professed conservatives demonstrate no understanding of man’s duty before God to protect woman shows how thoroughly this understanding has been lost from our generation.

In the church we may suspect that putting women on the front lines and hiding behind their skirts is wrong—but are we prepared to defend our view biblically? Likely not. What about when other Christians claim that this is a matter of Christian liberty, not Christian duty? Are we prepared to answer them? Again, likely not. We need to study to know what the Bible teaches about man’s duty to protect woman. Toward that end, I have taken the 2001 PCA Ad-Interim Study Committee on Women in the Military’s majority report and extracted from it “97 theses”.

Now, what are theses? When you put an argument into the form of theses you chop it up into little bite-sized pieces, with each little piece building on the one before. (This is what Martin Luther did with his famous 95 theses.) The numbering helps you keep track of where you are, and the bulleted format allows you to focus on one simple statement at a time and see if you are persuaded by it.

The following is 10 pages, not counting footnotes—and you’ve read a page of it already. Give it a read, men, and may the Lord strengthen us to understand and discharge faithfully our duty to protect woman…


1. God the Father, from Whom all fatherhood gets its name
2. Jesus Christ: Savior of His Bride
3. Church officers: Watchmen over Christ’s Bride
4. Adam: Defender of Eve and the garden
5. Man: Defender of woman
6. Woman: Giver of life
7. Sexual differentiation: God’s good gift


  1. Throughout the Old Testament, it was men God mustered to fight1. Nowhere in the Bible does God call women to be mustered for combat duty in the army.
  2. Similarly, in Deuteronomy 20, a chapter devoted to matters concerning war, exceptions to combat were given for various reasons, but in every case the one excepted is a man (cf., e.g., verses 7 and 8, “Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her…. Is any man afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too”).
  3. Long prior to the institution of the theocracy over Israel, sexuality is given by God as part of His creation order, and it is the outworking of that order we see in the Old Testament record of war—not God’s conformity to an ancient patriarchal norm which we are now free to disregard. Combat duty belongs to man.

1. God the Father, from Whom all fatherhood gets its name

  1. God is the archetypal Father (Eph 3:14); man’s fatherhood is and should be a reflection of God’s fatherhood.
  2. Scripture speaks of God taking up the cause of widows, not widowers.
  3. A widow is vulnerable because of the absence of her husband.
  4. God is a judge for widows and a father to the orphans, taking up the cause of all those weak and vulnerable by virtue of their age, sex, life circumstance, or spiritual bondage.
  5. Thus concerning those in spiritual bondage, Scripture promises, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him” (Psalm 103:13).
  6. Concerning foreigners: “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18).
  7. Concerning the poor: “He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor; for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and He set the world on them.” (1 Samuel 2:8).
  8. Concerning the fatherless and widows: “A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5).
  9. God is “like a man of war,” not like a woman of war:

    “The LORD will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse [His] zeal like a man (Hebrew: “ish”) of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies” (Isaiah 42:13).

  10. Scripture indicates it is shameful for any nation to have womanly warriors:

    The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting, they stay in the strongholds; their strength is exhausted, they are becoming like women; their dwelling places are set on fire, the bars of her gates are broken. (Jeremiah 51:30)

2. Jesus Christ: Savior of His Bride

  1. Jesus Christ engaged Satan in battle, vanquishing His foe and purchasing the freedom of His Bride. Our Lord “was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
  2. Our Savior fought valiantly and unceasingly for His Bride until He rendered Satan powerless (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 2:7; 19:1-8; 22:2,14,17,19).
  3. Only an age of prosperity and peace could fail to note the military imagery so often used in Scripture to describe our Savior’s work. For example,

    Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil… (Hebrews 2:14)

  4. In Ephesians 5:23-27, the Apostle Paul refers to Christ as “Savior of the body” and commands husbands to love their wives “as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her.”
  5. Paul writes that Christ “gave Himself up for” the Church. Jesus took our place, offering Himself up to God as our substitute, dying “on behalf of” the Church, taking upon Himself what we deserved so we might be washed, cleansed, and sanctified.
  6. Paul’s emphasis here is not ethereal; he talks about bodies, sex, and becoming “one flesh.” Jesus is the Savior not just of souls but also of bodies, and husbands, called to love as the Bridegroom loved His Bride, must see it as their duty to lay down their own lives for their brides.
  7. How could a Christian husband possibly think that self-sacrifice is his duty towards his wife in spiritual matters, yet deny it in temporal matters?
  8. Husbands have a sex-specific duty to defend their wives, engaging and vanquishing her enemies. Their own Master is Savior of His Bride, and they are to follow in His footsteps, laying down their lives as He first laid down His.

3. Church officers: Watchmen over Christ’s Bride

  1. One of the great privileges of knowing Jesus as our Groom is to be called to be an undershepherd of His Flock.
  2. Yet, as the subsequent history of Jesus’ first twelve undershepherds demonstrates, such a calling is not the domain of cowards. Shepherding the Flock of Christ requires taking up the Cross in Her behalf, fighting not with physical but spiritual weapons:

    These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them:

    “…as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. ‘Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles….

    A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! …

    Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

    When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples… (Matthew 10:5,16-18, 24-25, 32-34; 11:1a).

  3. This warning of impending warfare is given specifically to the Twelve. The passage begins and ends with Jesus warning His apostles that they have been called to follow their Master, not merely in what they preach, but also in the opposition, hatred, and death at the hands of God’s enemies they will face.
  4. There was nothing accidental about the composition of the Twelve. In this light, we note that these individuals chosen by God were exclusively Jewish and male.
  5. Here again God’s creation mandate that declares that men—not women—are to carry the burden of leadership and authority comes into view. God’s Word calls men to serve as officers of Christ’s Church, modeling their protection on the example of their glorious Master and the great cloud of faithful undershepherds, who throughout history have followed in their Master’s footsteps by laying down their lives for the Flock.
  6. Though our first Adam failed in his exercise of this duty, our Second Adam, the Good Shepherd, fulfilled this mandate to perfection.
  7. It is He that all faithful undershepherds of the Church march behind as they guard the household of faith2.
  8. Paul commands the young pastor, Timothy, to “fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 1:18). Timothy is to…

    “Suffer hardship… as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:1,3-4).

4. Adam: Defender of Eve and the garden

  1. In the Garden of Eden God revealed the pattern of man’s protective responsibility by communicating two duties to Adam, the federal head and father of mankind: first He commanded him to cultivate and keep, to protect, the Garden; and second He commanded him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:

    Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17).

  2. It was not until after God made Adam the first line of defense that He created Eve.
  3. From the beginning Eve was dependent upon the protection of her husband. This point was not lost on Satan3.
  4. There was danger in the Garden of Eden and God revealed that danger directly to Adam, commanding him to flee it.
  5. When God investigated the Fall, He approached Adam alone4:

    “Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?'” (Gen 3:9)

  6. Scripture places squarely on Adam’s shoulders the responsibility for the Fall5.
  7. The results of “one man’s disobedience” are catastrophic, as “creation is subjected to futility,” to “slavery to corruption,” and is groaning and suffering the “pains of childbirth until now.”
  8. Instead of fulfilling his duty and engaging his mortal enemy, Adam refused to stand in the breach. He listened to the woman and ate of the forbidden fruit. He was called to lay down his life in defense of his bride and his garden-home, but he betrayed his calling and abandoned his post.

5. Man: Defender of woman

  1. Adam’s descendants also are to model their fatherhood after God, the Archetype Father.
  2. There are many aspects to fatherhood; here John Piper reduces it to its essence: “At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women…”6
  3. This third aspect, the protection of women, is our central concern here. We see this duty confirmed in a command given to husbands by the Apostle Peter who writes,

    “You husbands in the same way, live with [your wives] in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

  4. Among the many strengths that the Bible affirms for femininity, the Bible also affirms a weakness that is distinctive to the female.
  5. This weakness is not because she is a wife, but precisely because she is a woman (1 Peter 3:7).
  6. If the husband patterns himself after God the Father, he will defend the weak just as His Heavenly Father defends them.
  7. The Old Testament confirms this weakness in addressing the importance of keeping vows. Fathers are to protect the weaker sex, “annul(ling) her vow which she is under and the rash statement of her lips by which she has bound herself…”7
  8. Beyond the danger of “rash statements,” a host of biblical texts indicate that it is man’s duty to defend his wife, children, and nation:

    When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty, he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken (Deuteronomy 24:5).

    Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the LORD’S vengeance on Midian (Numbers 31:3).

    Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but you shall cross before your brothers in battle array, all your valiant warriors, and shall help them, until the LORD gives your brothers rest, as [He gives] you, and they also possess the land which the LORD your God is giving them (Joshua 1:14).

    Cf. Exodus, Deuteronomy, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, etc.

  9. When Jacob went to meet Esau, he sent his servants ahead with the gifts, then he himself went in front of his wives and children (Genesis 32, 33).
  10. Joseph was called by God to stand with Mary in her time of need (Matthew 1:20-24).
  11. Later, God called Joseph to protect Jesus from Herod’s slaughter:

    “(B)ehold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him’ ” (Matthew 2:13).

  12. “Christ…accepted His responsibility as a man. One of His last acts from the Cross was to turn over to His disciple, John, the care of His own beloved mother. To Mary He said, `Woman, behold thy son,’ and to John, ‘Behold thy mother’ ” (John 19:26)8.
  13. It would have been unthinkable for Jesus to have given this duty to a woman; here too, Jesus fulfilled all righteousness–even that of His sex–by transferring to a man His duty to provide for and protect His mother
  14. God is the archetypal Father from Whom all fatherhood gets its name (Eph 3:14). The fatherhood of man is vindicated when men show themselves strong, not only in behalf of their wives and daughters, but in behalf of all the weak and oppressed—including sojourners, the poor, orphans, and widows.

6. Woman: Giver of life

  1. There is implicit instruction on womanhood in Scripture’s teaching on fatherhood: when God specifically links His works to His character as Father, when the Son’s behavior is linked to His Husbandly love for His Bride, and when corresponding human duties are established in the Word as the province of the man, it behooves us to recognize that such teaching constitutes implicit guidance on the role and responsibilities of womanhood.
  2. Scripture also teaches explicitly on womanhood; let us start with this explicit biblical principle:

    “Husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman…” (1 Peter 3:7)

  3. One part of the weakness attributed to woman by the Word of God is the vulnerability attendant to her nature as the “mother of all the living” (Gen 3:20).
  4. Perhaps the simplest and most eloquent argument against woman serving in military combat roles is the fact that she has been endowed by her Creator with a womb and breasts. A woman constantly carries with her the demands and vulnerability of motherhood.
  5. Our Lord issues a dire warning concerning these same aspects of womanhood: “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!” (Matthew 24:19)
  6. Picture an attack upon any family unit: the enemy approaches, the mother retreats with a baby at her breast and the rest of her little ones gathered under her skirts, and the father stands his ground to intercept the enemy.
  7. Read Scripture with the nature and purpose of womanhood in mind and it is striking how central the theme of childbearing appears, from the consequences of the Fall, to the blessings of the godly, to the necessary qualifications of women seeking to be enrolled as widows in the Church:

    To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children… “(Genesis 3:16).

    Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table (Psalms 128:3).

    A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work (1 Timothy 5:9, 10).

  8. Devoting herself to her children and home is a central part of the curriculum older women are to teach younger women of the Church, warning that those Christian women who turn away from these things dishonor the Word of God:

    (E)ncourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, [to be] sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the Word of God will not be dishonored (Titus 2:4-5).

    Therefore, I want younger [widows] to get married, bear children, keep house, [and] give the enemy no occasion for reproach (1 Timothy 5:14).

  9. And what of the “excellent wife” of Proverbs 31? Her focus is the same as that commended to the younger women in Titus 2: she “gives food to her household,” with strength she buys and sells land, “grasps the spindle,” and “extends her hand to the poor,” her “household (is) clothed with scarlet” and she “looks well to the ways of her household;” thus it is that “her children arise and call her ‘blessed.”‘
  10. The Apostle Paul writes,

    “women shall be preserved through the bearing of children…” (1 Timothy 2:15a)

  11. There has been much debate over the meaning of this statement, but no one has ever doubted that childbearing is at the center of woman’s calling, and that this work of woman is akin to warfare, requiring the greatest courage, perseverance, and self-sacrifice.
  12. Therefore, it should be understood that any attempt to absolve woman of military duty recognizes that her service to man as life-giver already carries with it the most severe consequences of pain and bloodshed, even to the point of death.
  13. Because of his love and respect for femininity’s essence, past generations of man made every effort to shield mothers, daughters, and wives from the ravages of war, whether in body or spirit9.
  14. One of the most horrific aspects of the feminization of the military is mothers in battle.
  15. Throughout history, soldiers have intentionally slaughtered pregnant women and their unborn children by thrusting their weapons into the mother’s womb:

    Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep? ” Then he answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the sons of Israel: their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword, and their little ones you will dash in pieces, and their women with child you will rip up” (2 Kings 8:12).

  16. In his commentary on Exodus 21:22, Calvin indicates that it is “atrocious” for an unborn child to be killed in his mother’s womb:

    The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in afield, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to life.

  17. Yet this is precisely what must happen in any military force which deploys women of childbearing age as combatants. Unborn children will be destroyed as they rest in the place God has designed as their most secure refuge. Are we such monsters that we fail to recoil from this in horror?
  18. Although we have enacted laws as a nation to protect the in utero children of criminals10, Congress offers no such legal protection to the in utero children of our women soldiers.
  19. And this, despite the dramatic frequency of pregnancy among women members of the U.S. military.
  20. The problem is not that women become pregnant or bear children; this is the very essence of femininity, as indicated by the name Adam gave his wife:

    “Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20).

  21. Rather, the problem is that we have placed our daughters and sisters in the untenable position of seeking to be killers even as they naturally, and even at the same time, seek to bring forth life.
  22. Is it ever possible to deal with woman as an abstract entity without considering her essential nature as life-giver? We answer “no.” Woman is woman: she can never be less, God be praised!

7. Sexual differentiation: God’s good gift

  1. God made man male and female, and this foundational diversity of sexuality He pronounced “good.”
  2. Since all the glorious variety of God’s creation ought to be the occasion of our rejoicing, sexual differentiation should be no exception to this rule.
  3. Rather than a stingy attitude through which we seek to minimize sexuality’s implications in our lives, we ought to maximize this diversity, renouncing every thought and action which tends to diminish it.
  4. This is the biblical context to understand the texts which deal with the clothing of men and women: clothing is not to confuse, but rather to clarify, our sexuality:

    A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 22:5).

    For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man…. Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering (1 Corinthians 11:8,14-15).

  5. In his exposition of the Seventh Commandment, John Calvin speaks of the immodesty of women who clothe themselves as warriors11:

    This decree also commends modesty in general, and in it God anticipates the danger, lest women should harden themselves into forgetfulness of modesty, or men should degenerate into effeminacy unworthy of their nature. Garments are not in themselves of so much importance; but as it is disgraceful for men to become effeminate, and also for women to affect manliness in their dress and gestures, propriety and modesty are prescribed, not only for decency’s sake, but lest one kind of liberty should at length lead to something worse. The words of the heathen poet (Juvenal) are very true:

    “What shame can she, who wears a helmet, show,
    Her sex deserting?”

  6. Similarly, Clement of Alexandria:

    What reason is there in the law’s prohibiting a man from “wearing woman’s clothing?” Is it not that it would have us to be manly, and not to be effeminate neither in person and actions, nor in thought and word? For it would have the man, that devotes himself to the truth, to be masculine both in acts of endurance and patience, in life, conduct, word, and discipline by night and by day; even if the necessity were to occur, of witnessing by the shedding of his blood. Again, it is said, “If any one who has newly built a house, and has not previously inhabited it; or cultivated a newly planted vine, and not yet partaken of the fruit; or betrothed a virgin, and not yet married her;” – such the humane law orders to be relieved from military service: from military reasons in the first place, lest, bent on their desires, they turn out sluggish in war…12

  7. Deuteronomy 22:5 declares that God abhors woman camouflaging herself as a man (and vice versa). Man and woman are not to exchange clothing because to do so is an attack upon the glory God has attached to sexuality13.
  8. Thus it is that the Church has condemned women warriors14.
  9. Luther comments on this text:

    A woman shall not bear the weapons of a man, nor shall a man wear female clothing… .for it is shameful for a man to be clothed like a woman, and it is improper for a woman to bear the arms of a man. Through this law (God) seems to reproach any nation in which this custom is observed15.

  10. If men and women exchanging clothing is condemned because such actions explicitly deny one’s sexuality, is it any surprise that womanly armies are loathsome and pathetic? So, for instance:

    In that day the Egyptians will become like women, and they will tremble and be in dread because of the waving of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which He is going to wave over them (Isaiah 19:16).

    Behold, your people are women in your midst! The gates of your land are opened wide to your enemies; fire consumes your gate bars (Nahum 3:13).

    A sword against their horses and against their chariots and against all the foreigners who are in the midst of her, and they will become women! A sword against her treasures, and they will be plundered (Jeremiah 50:37).

    The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting, they stay in the strongholds; their strength is exhausted, they are becoming [like] women; their dwelling places are set on fire, the bars of her [gates] are broken (Jeremiah 51:30).

  11. One can understand, then, why golden-tongued Chrysostom, whose preaching was used by God in the conversion of Augustine, would express himself in this conservative manner concerning women’s roles:

    Woman was not made for this, O man, to be prostituted as common. O ye subverters of all decency, who use men, as if they were women, and lead out women to war, as if they were men! This is the work of the devil, to subvert and confound all things, to overleap the boundaries that have been appointed from the beginning, and remove those which God has set to nature. For God assigned to woman the care of the house only, to man the conduct of public affairs. But you reduce the head to the feet, and raise the feet to the head. You suffer women to bear arms, and are not ashamed16.


  1. The contemporary push to normalize women serving in offensive combat positions is part of a larger ideological movement aggressively seeking to redefine the meaning and purpose of sexuality. Patriarchy is the enemy and any steps taken to vanquish that enemy, even to the point of turning men into women and women into men, is seen to be justified because of the justice of the larger cause.
  2. This movement is diametrically opposed to the creation order God ordained, but those seeking this deform will continue to pursue it with the greatest fervor, without blushing in the face of its consequences17.
  3. Times have changed from the days of the Early Church when Clement of Alexandria wrote:

    We do not say that woman’s nature is the same as man’s, as she is woman. For undoubtedly it stands to reason that some difference should exist between each of them, in virtue of which one is male and the other female. Pregnancy and parturition, accordingly, we say belong to woman, as she is woman, and not as she is a human being. But if there were no difference between man and woman, both would do and suffer the same things. As then there is sameness, as far as respects the soul, she will attain to the same virtue; but as there is difference as respects the peculiar construction of the body, she is destined for child-bearing and housekeeping…. For we do not train our women like Amazons to manliness in war (although) I hear that the Sarmatian women practice war no less than the men; and the women of the Sacae besides, who shoot backwards, feigning fight as well as the men18

  4. No doubt women can fulfill many duties traditionally carried out by men, and do it with great competence. But that is not the point. Women are capable of preaching, but may they preach—that is a different question. The Apostle Paul answered “no” and gave the Holy Spirit’s reason,

    “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13).

  5. But our postmodern age hates, and seeks to obliterate distinctions, particularly those related to authority.
  6. Other ages have suffered a similar curse by God:

    “O My people! Their oppressors are children, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray and confuse the direction of your paths (Isaiah 3:12).

  7. The creation order of sexuality places on man the duty to lay down his life for his wife.
  8. Women and men alike must be led to understand and obey this aspect of the biblical doctrine of sexuality, believing that such will lead to the unity and purity of the Church, and to the glory of God.
  9. Those who deny this duty, whether in word or action, oppose the Word of God.
  10. There is no glory to God in a view of the Old Testament that relegates its clear teaching on the relations of the sexes merely to “wise counsel.”
  11. How much better off we would be to echo the respect for the Old Testament’s teaching of those church fathers cited above who have so clearly spoken of the normative nature of Old Testament law governing the behavior and proper relation of the sexes.
  12. Meditating on the glory of the divine institution of marriage, the nineteenth century Southern Presbyterian pastor, William S. Plumer, wrote:

    Some persons far removed from all sickly sensibility never witness the solemnization of a marriage without strong emotion. Behold that noble, generous young man, full of energy, courage and magnanimity. He has sincerely plighted his troth. He would not hesitate a moment to step in between his loved one and the stroke of death, and thus save her from all harm. By his side stands a lovely female clothed in all the freshness of youth, and surpassing beauty. In the trusting, the heroic devotion, which impels her to leave country, parents, for a comparative stranger, she has launched her frail bark upon a wide and stormy sea. She has handed over her happiness and doom for this world, to another’s keeping. But she has done it fearlessly, for love whispers to her, that her chosen guardian and protector bears a manly and a noble heart. Oh woe to him that forgets his oath and manliness19.

  13. Fathers and brothers, may God cause us to remember our oaths and manliness.


1. For example, see Numbers 31:3-4; Joshua 1:14; 6:3; 8:3; Judges 7:1-8; 20:8-11; 1 Samuel 8:11-12 (contrast verse 13); 11:8; 13:2; 14:52; 24:2; 2 Samuel 24:2; 1 Chronicles 21:5; 27:1-15, 23-24; 2 Chronicles 17:12-19; 25:5-6; 26:11-14; 2 Kings 24:14-16; and Nehemiah 4:14 (“fight for … your wives and your homes”).

2. On the fatherhood of church officers, see Vern Sheridan Poythress, “The Church as Family: Why Male Leadership in the Family Requires Male Leadership in the Church,” in John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, (Wheaton: Crossway, 1991), pp. 237-250.

3. Luther notes the significance of Satan tempting Eve:

Satan’s cleverness is perceived also in this, that he attacks the weak part of the human nature, Eve the woman, not Adam the man… .Just as in all the rest of nature the strength of the male surpasses that of the other sex, so also in the perfect nature the male somewhat excelled the female. …Satan, therefore, directs his attack on Eve as the weaker part and puts her valor to the test… (Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis Chapters 1-5, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, 55 vols. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1958), 1:151)).

Similarly, Calvin:

Moreover the craftiness of Satan betrays itself in this, that he does not directly assail the man, but approaches him, as through a mine, in the person of his wife. This insidious method of attack is more than sufficiently known to us at the present day, and I wish we might learn prudently to guard ourselves against it. For he warily insinuates himself at that point at which he sees us to be the least fortified, that he may not be perceived till he should have penetrated where he wished (John Calvin, Commentaries on Genesis).

4. E. J. Young writes:

It is to Adam that God first calls out, for… the primary responsibility rested upon him. God had prohibited Adam from partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and so it was that God now in calling spoke to him. We may notice that the Bible expressly says, “And God said to him:” God’s address was directed to Adam, the guilty one (E. J. Young, Genesis 3: A Devotional and Expository Study, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1966), p. 79).

5. “Though Eve sinned before Adam, Rom 5:12-19 traces human sin back to Adam, giving to him the ultimate responsibility for the fall.” John M. Frame, “Toward a Theology of the State,” Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 51, No. 2, Fall 1989, p. 207.

6. John Piper, “A Vision of Biblical Complementarity,” in Piper and Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, (Wheaton: Crossway, 1991), pp. 31-59.

7. In the Westminster Confession’s chapter “Of Lawful Oaths and Vows,” we read,

“No man may vow to do anything forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance whereof he hath no promise of ability from God.”

The Numbers 30 passage is the Scripture proof chosen by the Divines to support this doctrine. Commenting on when vows are non-binding, A.A. Hodge writes,

“A vow cannot bind…when made by a child or other person under authority and destitute of the right to bind themselves of their own will (Numbers 30:1-8)” (A. A. Hodge, A Commentary on the Confession of Faith, (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Education, 1869), p. 395.)

Hodge’s comments and direct citation of Numbers 30 are typical of our reformed fathers’ understanding of the man’s duty to guard his wife and daughters, and of the woman’s inability to act independently of that male authority which God has placed in her life for her own well-being and protection. God the Father provides this covering of authority when the widow and orphan no longer have protection under their natural sovereign:

“You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless” (Exodus 22:22-24).

8. E. L. Hebden Taylor, The Reformational Understanding of Family and Marriage, (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1970), p. 67.

9. Even battlefield nurses who cared for men, nursing them back to life and tenderly binding up their wounded bodies and hearts, were ordinarily protected from frontline horrors:

April 16, 1945

Dearest Family:

The war has been moving so fast it makes you wonder where the catch is, and if there isn’t some surprise they’re going to spring. It is strange to be sitting in Germany-in the middle of a conquered country…. (We) are in a Nazi city now and for the first time I’m beginning to feel real hatred for the German people. It’s in the air. Stories come back to us from men who have visited the concentration camp nearby. Hundreds of bodies of slave laborers were discovered, including three American airmen-some burned, some starved, all emaciated, stacked up like cordwood. The German mayor, or Burgermeister, and his wife were taken out to see the place after the Americans took over. They went home and hanged themselves that night–whether from shame and remorse that they belonged to such a murderous race, or from fear that we might do the same to them, I don’t know.

Our girls have wanted to go, too–one of those morbid things that attract and fascinate even though they’re revolting. But our Army bosses won’t let us. Their refusal made our girls awfully mad, and they couldn’t see that the restriction was intended as a compliment. The Army felt that it would be unbecoming for us to view a stack of starved, nude male bodies. While at, first I thought I wanted to go, too, now I’m glad they wouldn’t let us–and pleased that our men thought that much of us. It is just little things like that which set us apart from the rest of the world and make me glad I’m an American. Maybe we aren’t very good warriors, but we’re certainly a better people.


Angie (Angela Petesch, Red Cross nurse.) (Andrew Carroll, “Annals of History: American Soldiers Write Home,” The New Yorker, 27 December 1999 and 3 January 2000, p. 93.)

10. The United States House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 4888 last year (2000), prohibiting states from executing a pregnant woman until after the safe delivery of her child. H.R. 4888 reads, “It shall be unlawful for any authority, military or civil, of the United States, a State, or any district, possession, commonwealth or other territory under the authority of the United States to carry out a sentence of death on a woman while she carries a child in utero. In this section, the term ‘child in utero’ means a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.”

11. John Calvin, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony, tr. Charles Bingham, 22 vols., (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, repr. 1996), 3:110.

12. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, Book 2, Chapter 18.

13. The word (kli) used to reflect “what pertains to a man” in Deuteronomy 22:5 indicates more than apparel. In Genesis 27:3, this same root is used for “weapons,” and in his Annotations on the Pentateuch, 1639, Ainsworth writes, “The Hebrew kli is a general word for all instruments, vessels, ornaments, whatsoever; and here for all apparel and whatsoever a man putteth on him, in time of peace or of war, and so the Chaldee translateth it armour or weapons, which is also forbidden a woman to wear. And this precept concerneth natural honesty and seemliness which hath perpetual equity (1 Corinthians 11) ….(Thus) men should not change their nature.” C. M. Carmichael writes, “‘No woman shall put on the gear of a warrior (kli-geber), ‘is an accurate translation.” Cf C.M. Carmichael, Law and Narrative in the Bible: The Evidence of the Deuteronomic Laws and the Decalogue, p. 162.

14. Calvin says,

“Two years ago, John Knox in a private conversation, asked my opinion respecting female government. I frankly answered that because it was a deviation from the primitive and established order of nature, it ought to be held as a judgment on man for his dereliction of his rights just like slavery-that nevertheless certain women had sometimes been so gifted that the singular blessing of God was conspicuous in them, and made it manifest that they had been raised up by the providence of God, either because He willed by such examples to condemn the supineness of men, or thus show more distinctly His own glory. I here instanced Huldah and Deborah.” John Calvin, “Letter DXXXVIII to William Cecil” in Selected Works of John Calvin: Tracts and Letters, ed. Henry Beveridge & Jules Bonnet, vol. 7, (Philadelphia, 1860), p. 46.

15. Luther’s Works, vol. XIV, p. 700-01. Similar translation and comment is found in Calvin, J. Ridderbos, S. Driver, Peter Craigie, J. Maxwell, E. Kalland, The Targum Onkelos, etc.

16. Chrysostom, Homily on Titus 2:14

17.Consider the following excerpt from the Los Angeles Times:
[Due to a high casualty rate which has caused a growing shortage of ablebodied men within the rebel armies of Sri Lanka, the Los Angeles Times reports that women and children are taking up arms, and that they now comprise over a third of rebel forces.] In a land where women are prized for their quiet passivity, one of the world’s most ruthless guerrilla groups is riding toward victory on the strength of its female fighters. The women of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, rebels waging a war , for an independent homeland in this island nation, are emerging as the movement’s most important weapon after thousands of men have died in battle.With vials of cyanide hanging from their necks [to kill themselves, if captured-a requirement of all rebel soldiers], women Tigers are shooting their way into government bunkers and police stations. They are hacking to death men, women and babies. Women Tigers are wrapping their bodies with explosives and killing dozens in suicide attacks….Seetha, a 22-year-old leader of 1,500 women fighters, stands just over 5 feet tall, wears her hair neatly trimmed and says she might one day like to have a family. Dressed in camouflage fatigues and toting a machine gun, she talks with the cool confidence of a battle-hardened commander.”It’s difficult to say how many people I’ve killed, ” said Seetha, who gave up her real name when she became a Tiger. “Sometimes after a battle, there might be 50 or 75 bodies lying around. It’s hard to say how many of them were mine.”Seetha is one of thousands of Sri Lankan women who have joined the Tigers, changing not only the face of the notorious rebel army but also challenging long-held views of their gender in this traditional society. Anton Raja, a Tiger spokesman, said the use of women in war is part of a larger vision of the guerrilla leadership to liberate Tamil women from the bonds of tradition. “In the old society, women were cultured and nice. We loved them, but they had no major role outside of the kitchen,” Raja said. “We went around to the women and told them: ‘You are the equal of men, you have the same rights, you can join us in the struggle.’ “Sri Lankan officials have long charged that Tiger leaders recruit children, who are easier to mold into pure fighters. Rebels deny the charge, but the women’s camp here contained at least one girl, code-named Yadusha.Yadusha, a quiet 14-year-old with close-cropped hair, said the Sri Lankan army killed her uncle, Pushpara, in 1988. Another uncle, Thiyagarajay, died fighting when he was 19. When her brother, a Tiger commando named Dayaparan, died three years ago, Yadusha decided to take his place. She said she hasn’t seen any action yet, but she already wears a cyanide pill around her neck. “When they call me, I’ll go, ” she said (Dexter Filkins, “In Sri Lanka, Dying To Be Equals,” Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2000, page A1.)

18. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, book 4, chapter 8.

19. William S. Plurner, The Law of God, (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1864; repr. 1996, Sprinkle) p. 455

This entry was posted in church government, civil government, duty, fatherhood, masculinity, stand in the gap. Bookmark the permalink.

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