Thursday, January 24, 2013

Misusing "What Would Jesus Do?"

A commenter recently responded to my last post by asking the noble question “What Would Jesus Do?” The question, of course, is one that Christians should ask themselves continuously. But Christ, of course, is not available to disentangle thorny political topics. Far too often, the implied answer to “What Would Jesus Do” is “Jesus would do whatever I want, because He supported X ideal.”
In the case of the particular post I referenced earlier, the commenter asked the question when I attacked the idea of women in the military. He concluded: “I do not think that he would condemn the new policy as you have,” and questioned "could not both genders contribute on the battlefield?" 
This would be a fair point – provided that he or she backed up his or her arguments with evidence that supported this point. But aside from one quote from an official that the Pentagon "expects to have gender-neutral standards for combat jobs," this evidence was not offered. Since the military already lowers physical standards to accommodate women, this claim should be greeted with some cynicism.
Bad policy implemented to achieve desirable ends is still bad policy. It does no service to women to “raise them up” by diluting standards for service, or by throwing away prudence for the sake of achieving desirable ends.
This method of argument is easily abused. After all, Jesus clearly upholds women, and demands justice for the poor. Thus, people could (and do) argue that Jesus would clearly accept abortion, because surely He would agree with “helping women.” Jesus would support redistributive taxation, because he demands justice for the poor. And so on and so forth.
Before asking ourselves the question “What Would Jesus Do?,” let us consider how well we truly understand the person of Jesus Christ before claiming His approval. Let us also consider how logical our position is.  


  1. I agree that I used WWJD more as an emotional appeal, than as a logical argument. It’s a simple, quick test that I use personally to distinguish the best course of action, to separate right from wrong, and get a better sense of what He would want when we are not sure. I do not use it in moral relativistic way that you suggest, but when issues are not clearly spelled out in Scripture. You’re right-- we don’t know what Jesus would say directly about women in the military, but I do take issue with the paternalistic tone that you write with. Your post is laced with the kind of sentiment that resonates with the authoritarianism of Islamic extremists, perpetuating the oppression of women based on gross misinterpretations.

    There may be pressure from activists to water down standards for women who want to enter combat roles, but I do not think the Dept of Defense would succumb to such protests. With our countrymen’s lives at stake, it does not make sense for bad policy to be put in place for political reasons. For example, two women enrolled in the Marines Infantry Officers Course, and they failed to meet the standard…just as many men had.

    Regarding the points about pregnancy and “bad behavior,” I sincerely hope that any soldiers we place on the frontlines are able to perform their obligations with the honor and responsibility instilled upon them. These individuals understand professionalism and duty to country and are trained to act with discipline and self-control. The danger of capture and mistreatment is not a small matter, but such is with any soldier. I am not as cynical as you are. I do not think the Dept of Defense will deliberately take more risks for the sake of politics. As the military should, it will analyze the situation, calculate the risks, and act accordingly.

    If our sophisticated military force can take care of regular hygiene, I think it can take care of feminine hygiene.

    The idea of women in combat is not a new one. Israel has used women in combat since 2000, and they still do.

    1. Fair points, and I thank you for responding so graciously. As for my tone, such was not my intent; I shall strive to be more careful in the future with my tone.

      I will explain my arguments in greater detail and address yours.

      Regarding the link you posted to the Marine Corps Times, it does seem curious that the first two volunteers to the program in question washed out. If these women volunteers washed out - soldiers expected to be the best and the brightest, specially recruited for the task, how likely are most women to succeed in the program?

      And will the fact that proportionally, fewer women would be able to meet these "gender-neutral" standards be treated as discrimination by activists, and be used to push for the lowering of standards? I doubt that the Dept. of Defense would seek to reduce standards for sake of political correctness - but they might well be pressured into it if political pressure was brought to bear on them.

      I also would like to hope that soldiers would like to perform their obligations with honor on the front lines. Unfortunately, that is not always the case in our current military.

      Expanding the role of women in combat only increases the risk of these problems - in dangerous situations on the front lines. I provide the example of Abu Gharib, a rather embarrassing situation for the military.

      As for concerns about feminine hygiene, this provides an idea of what I meant.

      I am aware of the fact that the concept of women combat soldiers is not new - women even disguised themselves in the Civil War and fought. Civil War soldiers had to carry less gear than modern soldiers, and disguised themselves, eliminating many of my other concerns. Also, Israel is located in a war zone and under threat of invasion from all sides - and has a much smaller population than the United States. Turning to women to fight is something of a necessity.

      At any rate, I thank you for responding to my somewhat unnecessarily harsh post without rancor. God bless!


Rules for Posting Comments:
1)All commentary is to be respectful.
2)Foul language/crude commentary is prohibited.
3)Use proper punctuation and capitalization.
4)Keep all posts in understandable English.
5)Refrain from personal/ad hominem attacks.
6) Sarcasm, humor, and witty commentary are welcomed.
All posts that violate these rules will be removed.
And the most important rule:
7) All posts are to reflect a spirit of Christian charity.