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Women's place in the military

A Christian Science perspective: A US Army chaplain shares her views on the value of women in the military.

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Women in the US military today are revealing a dual purpose to their presence. First, their unique qualities and capabilities increase the effectiveness of the military as a force for protection and peace. Second, their expression of womanhood brings balance to the expression of manhood in the military and lifts the environment morally and spiritually.

As this week's cover story, "How women are scaling barriers to combat," indicates, concern still exists as to whether women have what it takes to serve in combat roles. As a female Army chaplain, however, I have witnessed the value of women in the military and have seen the benefits of their contributions. Research has revealed a variety of different strengths that women bring to leadership and teamwork situations.

In order to truly understand the value of having women work alongside men in any context, including the military, it's helpful to understand the spiritual truths that reveal the power of manhood and womanhood and the contribution each brings to a progressive environment.

Womanhood, though different from manhood, stems from the same source, the one infinite God. The first chapter of Genesis says, "God created man in his own image,... male and female created he them." If God created men and women in His image, then God must be the source of male and female qualities. It is through this reasoning that Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, understood God to be Father-Mother of all.

The depiction of God as including both fatherhood and motherhood can be seen throughout Scripture. One of the most powerful definitions of God is in the book of First John: "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (4:16). Mrs. Eddy remarks on this passage: "In divine Science, we have not as much authority for considering God masculine, as we have for considering Him feminine, for Love imparts the clearest idea of Deity" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 517). Since God creates both male and female qualities, there is an equality between manhood and womanhood. Both are divine concepts, bringing different qualities and strengths to their surroundings.

Men, especially in the military, are valued for their courage, strength, and independence. The qualities of creativity, compassion, and faithfulness, often attributed to womanhood, bring balance and strength to their environment.

Most of the disciples Jesus sent out to preach and spread the Word were men, but it was his female disciples who first witnessed his resurrection and spread the Word of the eternal Christ. The qualities of both genders were vital to the fulfillment of Jesus' mission, and both are necessary today to benefit society. The nurturing of womanhood balances the courage of manhood. And the strength of manhood complements the determination of womanhood. The military needs this balance. Recognizing the uniqueness yet equality of both genders enables men and women to work together, contributing their gifts for the advancement of everyone.

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