Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

Manuscript Collections :
Synthetic Collections :

Studies & Reports of the PCA General Assembly



[Minutes of 29th General Assembly, 29-57, pp. 259-278.]

Index of all relevant texts in the 2001 and 2002 PCA Minutes
Women in the Military (WIM) Committee Final Report ---------------------- M30GA, 30-54, p. 282 and 30-57, p. 283
Communications 1, 2 and 6--------------------------------------------------------- M30GA, 30-57, pp. 287 - 289
Consensus Report 2001------------------------------------------------------------- M29GA, 29-57, p. 259 - 278
Final Recommendations 2002------------------------------------------------------ M30GA, 30-57, p. 285
Final Recommendations, 2001------------------------------------------------------ M29GA, 29-57, XI, p. 277 & M30GA, p. 286

"Man's Duty to Protect Woman" [Majority Report, 2001] --------------------

M29GA, 29-57, pp. 278 - 308
Minority Report 2002---------------------------------------------------------------- M30GA, 30-57, p. 287
Minority Report 2001---------------------------------------------------------------- M29GA, 29-57, p. 308 - 320
Overtures 2, 21 and 26--------------------------------------------------------------- M30GA, 30-53, III, 7, p. 245; 30-57, 5, p. 287
Supplemental Report 2002----------------------------------------------------------- M30GA, 30-57, p. 287
"Recommendations for the Wise Counsel of the Church" ------------------- M29GA, 29-57, p. 308 - 320
Motion to Send Report to the President [motion failed] M30GA, 30-60, p. 290

Consensus Report


NOTE: Sections 1 through XI, below, are the committee's effort to carve out an area of agreement, thereby allowing the Assembly to better understand the parameters of disagreement. Therefore, Sections I through XI are submitted to the Assembly by the entire committee, with no dissent. Commissioners will note that the area we could not come to agreement surrounds the question of whether women not participating in offensive combat is a matter of duty, or simply wise counsel. (Please see the final paragraph of Section IX, Scriptural Premises.)

It had been our hope to have two papers attached to this consensus report, detailing the duty and wise counsel positions. We apologize that we have found ourselves unable to complete those papers in time for this mailing. When they are completed, we will publish them on the internet and send out a letter informing the church of their address. Hard copies will also be available for commissioners to the 29'x' General Assembly.

It is the nature of a consensus document that both sides will find certain of its statements less than satisfactory; nevertheless, with that caveat we humbly submit this consensus part of our report for the Assembly's consideration and judgment.

I. Purpose of Ad Interim Study Committee on Women in the Military

The Ad Interim Study Committee on Women in the Military (AISCWIM) was created by action of the 26th Assembly in 1998. This action is found in the Minutes of the 26th Assembly, pp. 209ff. The purposes of the Committee were set forth as:

1. To "consider the theological and ethical issues raised by women in combat roles andlor military service. "
2. To receive the referred overture from Philadelphia Presbytery.
3. To receive the referred report of the Bills and Overtures Committee.
4. To report to the 27th General Assembly.
5. To consider the decisions of the Reformed Church in the United States (RCVS); the Reformed Presbyterian Church, North America (RPCNA); the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC); and the Communication from the Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel (PRJC).

II. History of Ad Interim Study Committee on Women in the Military

In 1996, Overture 20 from Philadelphia Presbytery asked the Assembly to condemn, protest, and request the repeal of the national policy allowing women to serve in combat. It further requested that elders, military chaplains and other church officials "communicate with their members God's teaching concerning women in combat."

The Assembly adopted the following motion from the floor: "The PCA, without attempting to intermeddle in civil affairs (WCF 31-4) expresses grave concern about the practice of sending women into combat and asks one of its courts, Philadelphia Presbytery, to bring a more detailed recommendation to the 25th General Assembly.

In 1997, Overture 13 from Philadelphia Presbytery brought an extended Rationale. It further asked that the Assembly indicate "that this communication also be construed as an expression of contrite appeal for recognition that such a monstrous overturning of God's intention for man and woman has progressed in public view over several decades without notice or Biblical counsel by the Church, a manifest expression of our own sinful negligence and lack of love, for which we beg humble forgiveness from those who govern, from the citizens, and from God."

The Assembly adopted the recommendation of its Bills and Overtures Committee that the Overture be answered in the negative. It indicated that the "situation does not justify the Assembly's intervention in a political matter"(WCF 31-4), and that the "Biblical arguments were not entirely persuasive" (WCF 1-6). It was not persuaded that the Assembly had sinned in this regard, and it questioned whether women serving in combat would be subject to discipline if the Overture were adopted.

In 1998, Overture 26 from Philadelphia Presbytery asked the Assembly to appoint a privately funded Ad Interim Study Committee on Women in the (AISCWIM). The Assembly appointed this committee to "consider the theological and ethical issues raised by women in combat roles and/or military service." The Assembly also mandated that this committee "consider the decisions of the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS); the Reformed Presbyterian Church, North America (RPCNA); the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC); and Communication from the Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel (PRJC) (relative to Overture 26; see also Recommendation 16)."

In 1999 a Report was presented by AISCWIM. A motion "to receive as information the present report to be used as advice and that the report be referred back to the Committee to perfect for the 28th Assembly, and that the committee be expanded by adding three new members appointed by the Moderator" was made, seconded and adopted.

I n 2000, AISCWIM presented an interim report, asking for a year's extension to complete its work by the 29th Assembly. The Assembly approved this motion.

III. Current Review of Military Service of Women

The feminization of the military is an idea whose time has come, not only for American armed forces, but for other nations also. In the American context, the leadership of Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) has advanced this process. The DACOWITS charter, filed on February 28, 1998, says of its duties, "In carrying out its duties, the Committee serves as a vital link between the civilian community and the Department of Defense regarding the need for, and role of, women as an integral part of the Armed Forces. Through its work, the Committee encourages public acceptance of military service as a citizenship responsibility and as a career field for qualified women in the Services."

Although governmental leaders and feminist writers have offered able defenses of the successful nature of the integration of women into the military services, there are numerous concerns and problems associated with the novel experiment of feminizing the American military services.

Here is a sampling:

· sexual immorality (fornication, adultery, prostitution), particularly in basic training;
· sexual harassment and abuse, including that of inferiors by superiors;
· pregnancy, preventing military readiness;
· inferior physical strength and stamina; differing standards of physical performance by men and women;
· women's unique limitations for combat;
· loss of fighting effectiveness;
· religious complications of women's service ( e.g. Islamic coverings and military uniforms);
· loss of properly trained personnel due to difficulty of assigning women to combat;
· loss of superior younger rank officers due to dissatisfaction with gender norming and feminine integration;
· promotion of inferior younger rank officers due to social policy of integration of women in services, rather than effective leadership;
· expense of refitting equipment for both sexes; attendant decrease in military readiness and power;
· subordination of wives to overriding directives of superior officers.

Finally, one critical aspect of the situation caused by the feminization of the military is the possible conscription of women; proposals to do so loom on the horizon and cannot easily be dismissed. Our all-volunteer military is not meeting its quotas at a time when the American armed services is very broadly deployed in different parts of the world.

IV. The Honor of a Military Calling

Since the Fall, the warrior and military have been necessary for the protection of life, beliefs, and property. When properly exercised by moral God-fearing authorities, and carried out by men of faith, the duties of the military profession have been honorable. To pledge to give one's life for another is a high calling.

One of the earliest accounts of organized military action used properly was the use of force by Abraham to rescue Lot and his entire household.[1] Abraham's servants, ' Genesis 14 three hundred strong, were skilled in the use of weapons-they were soldiers, trained in the art of war.[2] These men served well, protecting family and assets.

Exodus presents an account of the nation of Israel coming out from the land of Egypt and wandering in the wilderness. The nation moved en masse and the women provided non-combat, logistical support. In Exodus 17, we find an account of the battle against the Amalekites led by Joshua (Yahweh saves), under the staff of God held by Moses.[3]

In Exodus 32, we find the description of the rebellion of Israel against the Lord. Complying with God's instructions, Moses there called the men of his own tribe of Levi to put down the rebellion:

(Moses) said to them, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.'"[4]

"In Numbers 1, we find a special census of Israel taken: "Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their father's houses, according to the number of names, every male individually, from twenty years old and above-all who are able to go to war in Israel."[5] Later in the chapter, we read, "So all who were numbered of the children of Israel, by their father's houses, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war in Israel-all who were numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty."[6] Again, men were set aside for a specific task-the art of war.

Men were organized, by tribe, to fight as cohesive units; so today's military also is organized in cohesive units, each with its own leaders. The army of Israel was sizeable by anyone's standards.

In Joshua 5, Christ in His preincarnate form appears to Joshua with sword in hand, Commander of the Lord's army. Whatever God does can only be honorable. "And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, 'Are you for us or our adversaries?' So He said, 'No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.' And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and said to Him, 'What does my Lord say to His servant?' Then the Commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, 'Take your sandals off for the place where you stand is holy.' And Joshua did so."[7] Again, the Lord came as a just and honorable warrior--Captain of the Lord's army. He could have appeared in any form but chose to appear as a warrior.

In Luke 3, soldiers convicted of sin inquired of John the Baptist what they must do to be saved. John the Baptist did not condemn their profession, but told them how to conduct themselves in Godliness: "Do not intimidate anyone or accuse them falsely, and be content with your wages."[8] Luke also records how a Roman centurion came to Jesus, requesting healing for his sick servant.[9] Jesus could have used this opportunity to take the centurion to task concerning his profession, but instead upheld him as an example of faith, saying, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel."[10]

In our own American experience, a number of military leaders have had a profound Christian faith. The Revolutionary War has been known as a Presbyterian uprising. In fact, King George III often said, "There go our American cousins running off with their Presbyterian ministers."[11]

George Washington was a man of faith that literally kept the dream alive during the long arduous years of the American Revolution. He was a leader often on his knees in prayer. At Yorktown, when General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington, of Washington's ten senior military staff, nine were Presbyterian elders.[12]

During the Civil War many devout Christians served in both the Union and Confederate armies.[13] General Robert E. Lee was devout; Stonewall Jackson was a Presbyterian deacon;[14] General Joshua Chamberlain, a Medal of Honor winner wounded five times during the war, served as a professor of Christian ethics and rhetoric at Bowdoin College.

Scripture presents God Himself as Warrior,[15] and examples from Scripture and history of Godly men in uniform defending their wives and children against attack could be multiplied. Suffice it to say that the military profession is an honorable calling, recognized and attended by God's blessings throughout history.[16]

V. Relevant Viewpoints from Church History

The history of the Church's views on women serving in the military reveals that the Church has stood opposed; this was never a significant issue because warfare was a male duty. Still, there are passing statements indicative of their views:

Josephus: Beware, above all in battle, that no woman assume the accoutrements of a man nor a man the apparel of a woman.[17]

Chrysostom: 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 overlap 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 the 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 ashamed.

Note that Chrysostom sees the male warrior role as having "been appointed from the beginning," and thus a Creation ordinance. Again, Chrysostom:

... what say you to these-when he equips the females with arms, and helmets, and greaves, and says that the human race has no occasion to differ from the canine! Since dogs, he says, the female and the male, do just the same things in common, so let the woman do the same works as the men, and let all be turned upside down. For the devil has always endeavored by their means to show that our race is not more honorable than that of brutes.[19]

For women to serve as warriors, Chrysostom says, effaces the unique character of men and women as bearers of God's Image, reducing them to brutish animals; thus he points, again, to the Creation ordinance.

Luther declares it to be a man's binding duty to defend his wife and children:

The question whether without offending God or our conscience, we may defend ourselves against the emperor, if he should seek to subjugate us, is rather one for lawyers, than for divines. If the emperor proceed to war upon us, he intends either to destroy our preaching, and our religion, or to invade and confound public policy and economy, that is to say, the temporal government and administration. In either case, it is no longer as emperor of the Romans, legally elected we are to regard him but as a tyrant; it is, therefore, futile to ask whether we may combat for the upright, pure doctrine, and for religion; it is for us a law and a duty to combat for wife, for children, servants, and subjects; we are bound to defend them against maleficent power.[20]

Finally, Calvin declares that the prevention of women from bearing firearms in military service flows from the natural order, again indicating a Creation ordinance. He also indicates such service violates the Seventh Commandment of God's Moral Law.

For it is good reason that there should be a difference between men and women. And although there be no law written, doth not even nature teach it us? ... In so doing they seem to be sorry that God made them not women and to be desirous to renounce their own sex. And that is a shameful thing. Again when women go apparelled like men of war, (as there be some which had leave to bear a hackbutte [an ancient firearm] on their shoulder than a distaffe in their hand) it is against kinde, and we ought to abhor it.... I have told you already that all the laws which are written here concern manners and are rules of good life, and are to be referred to the Ten Commandments. For God hath not added anything to those ten sentences... As how? For in forbidding adultery, God not only forbids the act itself, which were punishable and worthy of reproach even before men; but also he forbids in effect all unchaste behavior, so as none may appear, neither in apparel nor in any part of our conversation... which mischief to eschew, both men and women must have a care to follow every of them their own vocation ... but they despise God and nature more than they ever did.[21]

Thus we see a few representative excerpts from Ancient and Reformation fathers indicative of their opposition to the service of women in military combat; and they saw this opposition as flowing from Creation ordinance and God's Moral Law.

VI. Contemporary Ecclesiastical Views

In 1996, the Special Committee of the RCUS to Study the Biblical View of Women Serving in the Military adopted the following recommendations:

1. The 250th session of the Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States, upon due examination of Holy Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments, finds no biblical warrant for women serving in enforced military service; but on the contrary, finds that women are to be protected from enforced military service that they might fulfill their calling and duties under God as set forth in the order of creation. Further, women are not to serve in combat roles. That member Churches of the Reformed Church in the United States make this study available to its members as a part of teaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27; 2 Timothy 3:16 17).[22]

In 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention passed the following resolutions:

1. That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 9-11, 1998, in Salt Lake City, Utah, do, with loyal respect and deep concern, warn against and oppose the training and assigning of females to military combat service because: it rejects gender-based distinctions established by God in the order of creation; it undermines male headship in the family by failing to recognize the unique gender-based responsibility of men to protect women and children; and it subordinates the combat readiness of American troops and the national security of the United States, to the unbiblical social agenda of ideological feminism.
2. That we give deepest gratitude and honor to those courageous women who have served their country in military support roles.
3. That we commit our prayer support to all military members and families serving this great nation around the world.
4. That we call upon the President, Congress, and all military leaders to reverse the present policy and to restore the historic limitation of military combat service to males only

In 1998, the General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church adopted a resolution that says, in part:

The members of the 62nd General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church meeting in Lakeland, Florida, August 6-11, 1998, out of loyalty and respect warns against the policy of sending females into combat. This unbiblical practice follows the social agenda of ideological feminism and undermines the male leadership role. While we commend women who have served honorably in our military in the many areas of support roles, we urge any of our members who are considering military service to take counsel of its sessions as to the teaching of God's Word on this matter. We call for a reversal of the policy of women in combat.[24]

In 1998, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, North America, adopted the following:

1. That, while recognizing the right and duty that women have to self defense, which may involve physical violence (Judges 9:53), it is our conviction that Biblical teaching does not give warrant to employ women for military combat.
2. That we direct all presbyteries and sessions to instruct their congregations in this regard.
3. That we urge any of our female members who are considering or presently engaged in military service 'to take counsel of their Sessions as to the teaching of God's Word in the matter.
4. That the Clerk of the Synod send a copy of this resolution to the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC), and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), and to our military chaplains.
5. That the Moderator of the Synod be directed to assign a representative to present a copy of this resolution to the President of the United Sates, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

In 2000, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church considered two reports regarding the Role of Women in the Military and Combat; the matter was referred to the subsequent, 2001, General Assembly with no definitive action taken.

VII. Ecclesiology: The Church's Spirituality, Power, and Message

The Church's Spirituality and Gospel Power We begin with the recognition that it lies outside the jurisdiction of this court to address political and federal practice.[26] Our Standards clearly teach that the business of the Assembly is to be exclusively ecclesiastical. That is, it is to handle nothing but the business of the church-spiritual matters regulated by Divine Revelation.

The Assembly is not to insert itself into civil affairs except under certain carefully prescribed conditions. Matters of national and political policy fall outside the jurisdiction of our church courts and are to be "determined by the state in the light of human reason and the course of providential events."[27]

The Westminster Confession clearly states what a General Assembly must do, and what it may not do.

It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same ...[28]
Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical; and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary, or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate

The Book of Church Order, also, clearly asserts the spiritual nature and character of the Church:

3.1 The power which Christ has committed to His Church vests in the whole body, the rulers and those ruled, constituting it a spiritual commonwealth. This power, as exercised by the people, extends to the choice of those officers whom He has appointed in His Church.
3.2 Ecclesiastical power, which is wholly spiritual, is twofold. The officers exercise it sometimes severally, as in preaching the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, reproving the erring, visiting the sick, and comforting the afflicted, which is the power of order; and they exercise it sometimes jointly in Church courts, after the form of judgment, which is the power of jurisdiction.
3.3 The sole functions of the Church, as a kingdom and government distinct from the civil commonwealth, are to proclaim, to administer, and to enforce the law of Christ revealed in the Scriptures.
3.4 The power of the Church is exclusively spiritual; that of the State includes the exercise of force. The constitution of the Church derives from divine revelation; the constitution of the State must be determined by human reason and the course of providential events. The Church has no right to construct or modify a government for the State, and the State has no right to frame a creed or polity for the Church. They are planets moving in concentric orbits: "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21).
3.5 The Church, with its ordinances, officers and courts, is the agency which Christ has ordained for the edification and government of His people, for the propagation of the faith, and for the evangelization of the world.

Under our Standards, the Assembly may not handle a matter of political policy or federal practice (except petitioning for relief of conscience), unless required by the State to provide advice. Neither of these conditions is presently applicable. The Assembly does not address political policy, only moral principles. Thornwell wrote:

If she undertakes to meddle with the things of Caesar, she must expect to be crushed by the sword of Caesar.... The simple proposition that all Churchpower is ministerial and declarative, consistently carried out, explains her whole duty. The meaning is, that the Church can only execute what God enjoins, and can teach as faith or duty only what God reveals....[30]

Our Lord has given to the courts of the Church the protection and propagation of the Gospel, and the discipline and care of his people.[31] Those who faithfully proclaim the gospel in the power of the Spirit may, in the purposes of God, turn everything upside down.[32] The Gospel proclaimed brings the Kingdom of God to bear upon the world. When our true desire is the glory of God, invariably it is discovered that the Gospel's benefits are of immeasurable worth to human culture and society.[33] The greatest gift the Church can give the world is to be the Church.

For this reason our Standards insist that the nature of the church is as "a spiritual commonwealth... (and her power) is wholly spiritual.... The sole functions of the Church, as a kingdom and government distinct from the civil commonwealth, are to proclaim, to administer, and to enforce the law of Christ revealed in the Scriptures."[34]

Synods, and councils are to handle or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical... [35]

An apostolic church built upon the Word of God understands that the means of grace are the only tools that the courts of the Church are to hold in their hands. By these means the Church of Jesus Christ plunders the kingdom of darkness, and it was only when this freedom to proclaim the Gospel was in danger that the Apostles petitioned the magistrates.[36] Our Lord Jesus Christ provided us an infallible example when He refused to allow matters of political and military state policy to distract Him from the business of the Kingdom.[37] We do well, ourselves, to heed the dangers inherent in such distractions. We remember, and wish to respect the fact, that the founding fathers of the PCA grew tired of political agendas in the Southern church, and hoped for a denomination set ablaze with a love for the Gospel.

Yet, we affirm that God is the Sovereign Lord of all, and no sphere of life lies outside His sovereign jurisdiction. Every thought is to be brought captive to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.[38] It is improper, therefore, to consider the question of women in the military as merely a secular matter that has nothing to do with the members of the Body of Christ; on the contrary, the members of the Body of Christ, as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, bring the Lordship of Christ to bear upon all of culture.

It is proper for Christian citizens, as citizens, to vigorously address the matter of women in the military, just as Christian citizens, also, appropriately bring the light of nature, the dictates of reason, and the Word of God to bear within every sphere of their influence.

Assembly Pronouncements & Pastoral Counsel to the Civil Magistrate

Notwithstanding the above, there is precedent in the practice of our church for the Assembly to address matters of moral principle that are being flagrantly transgressed in a national violation of Biblical law. The Confession indicates, for example, that the Church must proclaim that the "moral law doth forever bind all."[39] In such weighty matters of moral concern and principle such as abortion, she may legitimately wish to do so by way of a pronouncement of the Assembly. In lesser matters troubling the church, she may wish to do so by way of pastoral counsel.

The Church must, therefore, be ready and willing to speak to moral issues that impact the Church and State when it is appropriate to do so. The dilemma before us is captured well by comparing two famous citations from Luther. The first reflects the efficacy of the Scriptures themselves.

For the Word created heaven and earth and all things (Ps. 33:6); the Word must do this thing,. and not we poor sinners.... I simply taught, preached, and wrote God's Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept (cf Mark 4:26-29), or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything. Had I desired to foment trouble, I could have brought great bloodshed upon Germany; indeed, I could have started such a game that even the emperor would not be safe. But what would it have been? Mere fool 's play. I did nothing; I let the Word do its work. What do you suppose is Satan's thought when one tries to do the thing by kicking up a row? He sits back in hell and thinks: Oh, what a fine game the poor fools are up to now! But when we spread the Word alone and let it alone do the work, that distresses him. For it is almighty and takes captive the hearts, and when the hearts are captured the work will fall by itself.[40]

Yet Luther affirmed the need to profess the relevancy of the truth of God in the face of Satan's attacks:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace the flinches at that point.[41]

Despite our Church's commitment to the spirituality of the Church and the ministerial nature of church power, our own 6th General Assembly recognized there is an appropriate time for the Church to speak to the civil magistrate in regard to moral principles. This it did when declaring its historic deliverance against abortion, and the statement referred to the writing of John Murray to justify the action:

To the Church is committed the task of proclaiming the whole counsel of God and, therefore, the counsel of God as it bears upon the responsibility of all persons and institutions. While the Church is not to discharge the functions of other institutions such as the state and family, nevertheless it is charged to define what the functions of these institutions are, and the lines of demarcation by which they are distinguished. It is also charged to declare and inculcate the duties which devolve upon them. Consequently when the civil magistrate trespasses the limits of his authority, it is incumbent upon the Church to expose and condemn such a violation of his authority. When laws are proposed or enacted which are contrary to the law of God, it is the duty of the Church to oppose them and expose their iniquity. When the civil magistrate fails to exercise his God-given authority in the protection and promotion of the obligations, rights, and liberties of the citizens, the Church has the right and duty to condemn such inaction, and by its proclamation of the counsel of God to confront the civil magistrate with his responsibility and promote the correction of such neglect. The functions of the civil magistrate, therefore, come within the scope of the Church's proclamation in every respect in which the Word of God bears upon the proper or improper discharge of these functions, and it is only misconception of what is involved in the proclamation of the whole counsel of God that leads to the notion that the Church has no concern with the political sphere.[42]

But Murray also reminds us:

It is necessary that great caution and reserve must be exercised by the Church in making pronouncements regarding political affairs. The caution is particularly necessary in connection with the pronouncements and resolutions of assemblies of the Church. Hasty analyses and proclamations must be avoided, and great care must be exercised to ensure that pronouncements are in accord with and necessitated by the requirements of the Word of God.[43]

Thus we must proceed with care, seeking to establish our beliefs in regard to these matters directly upon the teachings of the Word of God. Historically, the PCA has avoided addressing the magistrate unless clearly compelling moral grounds were at issue. Abortion and homosexuality are two such occasions. We must exhort our members to remember that the fear that the worldly kingdom is collapsing is not the same as a high zeal for the Kingdom of God, and the addressing of our latest fears is not to be confused with the relevancy of the Gospel. The heartbeat of the Church must be to remember that a pure Gospel and a godly people are the greatest power that can be unleashed in the world.

Nevertheless, a potential issue requiring such an address to the magistrate is the conscription of women from our churches and families. In the context of the statement of BCO 3-4 concerning the concentric circles of Church and State, we express our conviction that the conscription of women justifies our Assembly's condemnation.[44] Such conscription would be tantamount to the planet of the State veering from its concentric orbit, turning to collide with the Church. This ever-increasing possibility requires the Church's wisdom and proactive steps to protect the moral purity and vulnerable lives of her women. The potential for the conscription of women facing us today is, indeed, an extraordinary matter, and we must not take lightly the significance of other biblical churches addressing this matter from the Word of God, as noted above in section VI, "Contemporary Ecclesiastical Views."

VIII. Foundational Premise: The Sufficiency of Scripture

We begin by noting that the pronouncements of the Church are derived, not from private opinions, but solely from the Scriptures. Therefore, the Reformed understanding of the Scriptures insists "that nothing is sin but what (the Scriptures) condemn, and nothing morally obligatory but what they enjoin."[45]

The Reformed tradition therefore asserts that:

By the completeness of the Scriptures is meant that they contain all the extant revelations of God designed to be a rule of faith and practice to the Church... so that nothing can be rightly imposed on the consciences of men as truth or duty which is not taught directly or by necessary implication in the Holy Scriptures. This excludes all unwritten traditions, not only but all decrees of the visible Church; all resolutions of conventions, or other public bodies, declaring this or that to be right or wrong, true or false. The people of God are bound by nothing but the Word of God.[46]

Similarly our Standards insist:

The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of council, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be not other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.[47]

This leaves us no room to demand of our members what Scripture does not clearly teach. It would infringe their Christian liberty and violate their conscience if so ruled by the court.

God alone is Lord of the conscience and has left it free from any doctrines or commandments of men which are in any respect contrary to the Word of God, or which, in regard to matters of faith and worship, are not governed by the Word of God.[48]

So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit, faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.[49]

Therefore, for an argument to be moral, in character, it must be universally applicable to the State and the Church, agreeing with the Confession's standard of "good and necessary consequence:"

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.... [50]

In stating the Reformed understanding of the sufficiency of Scripture, we also note:

We acknowledge that many things were done by Christ which are not recorded (John 20.30); also that many things occurred as appendices and supports of religion which are not particularly mentioned in the Scriptures and were left to the prudence of the rulers of the Church who (according to the direction of Paul, 1 Corinthians 14:40) should see that all things be done decently in the Church. The question relates only to things necessary to salvation-whether they belong to faith or to practice... [51]

Similarly, John Owen:

The Holy Spirit hath so disposed of the Scripture that the mind of God in all things concerning our faith and obedience, in the knowledge whereof our illumination doth consist, is clearly revealed therein. There needs no other argument to prove any thing not to belong unto our religion that is not revealed or appointed in the Scripture; no other to prove any truth not to be indispensable necessary unto our faith or obedience than that it is not clearly revealed in the Scripture.[52]

Also, the Westminster Confession:

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.[53]

IX. Scriptural Premises

Scripture teaches that God created both Adam and Eve in His Own Image,[54] and commanded them to fill the earth, subdue it, and rule over it.[55]

Although everything comes from God, man comes from woman, and man is not independent from woman,[56] Scripture also teaches that Adam was created first,[57] Eve was made from Adam,[58] Eve was created for Adam,[59] Adam named Eve,[60] Adam is our federal head whose name the human race bears,[61] it was Adam God called to account for the Fall;[62] and finally, in Adam-not Eve who first partook of the fruit-we all die.[63]

Scripture teaches that Eve, Adam's suitable helper, is called to submit to his authority;[64] it also teaches that all wives are to submit to their husbands;[65] thus when Satan tempted Eve, he attacked Adam "from below,"[66] and when Eve both acquiesced and led her husband into sin, she became a partner with Satan in the subversion of the divine order of the first home.[67] By failing to rebuke his wife, Adam failed to correct the inverted order of his home.[68] By eating the fruit, Adam betrayed his duty to protect his wife, the race, and all creation.[69]

Despite the fact that part of God's curse of Eve is focused on her distinctive calling as life-bearer,[70] Eve and her daughters continue throughout time to serve the human race by bearing children and Scripture presents woman's fulfillment of this calling as a godly expression of both purpose and piety.[71] The child woman carries in her womb bears God's Image and is protected by God in the Sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."[72]

By calling the woman a weaker vessel, Scripture indicates that there is a greater vulnerability attendant to womanhood, and calls upon her husband to be considerate of this fact.[73] This vulnerability of the woman and the duty of the man are further confirmed by Scripture's command that a husband serve and lay down his life for his wife.[74]

The teaching of the New Testament itself specifically applies the above creation doctrine of manhood and womanhood to the home and church, and the PCA has systematically conformed her faith and practice to these principles.[75]

Yet this Committee has been formed and given its charge largely because of the absence in the New Testament of parallel specificity with regard to the civil realm. Nevertheless, it is our unanimous conviction that the above doctrinal summary provides guidance to the Church concerning the relationship of men and women in society. Therefore, these doctrines have application to the matter of women serving in offensive combat. We realize that this has further implications for the propriety of women being conscripted to serve in the military. Indeed, we have come to unanimous agreement that women ought not to be conscripted.

We confess that, while we also are unanimous in stating that the above doctrine of sexuality gives guidance to the Church concerning the inadvisability of women serving in offensive combat, some among us believe that such guidance should be limited to pastoral counsel that does not bind the conscience while others among us believe that this counsel rises to the level of duty.

X. Conclusion

We sympathize greatly with Philadelphia Presbytery in its deep concerns about women serving in combat. Our private opinions lead us to believe that this is a foolish policy fueled by the blind passions of feminism. It is lacking in appreciation for the place of traditional values in society and the way in which they have been informed by a biblical understanding of manhood and womanhood. Such a proposition is almost entirely lacking in precedent in any major human civilization, except where in recent years it has been tried and abandoned as a failure.

We are also of the opinion that it will lead to a further deterioration of sexual morality in our culture, while also eroding the military's morale. Women will be at far greater risk of sexual abuse, rape, and torture. Thus, simple "love of neighbor" leads us to warn against further implementation of this policy.

We therefore offer the following thirteen recommendations to the 29th General Assembly; also, we exhort our members to seek God's wisdom which is freely offered to his children.[76] We further encourage our members to humbly receive this biblical teaching and seek pastoral counsel, being confident of the love, care, and guidance of our heavenly Father in all matters that relate to the service of women in the military.

We also encourage the Church to take full confidence in the sufficiency of the Gospel.[77] Those who faithfully live and proclaim the Gospel in the power of the Spirit, may, in the purposes of God, once more turn everything upside down.[78] There is no greater gift that we can give to the world than to be the Church of Jesus Christ, a people who glorify God, love one another, and hold the means of grace in our hands, hearts, and heads.[79] When the Kingdom of God is brought to bear upon the world, and the glory of God is our first concern, we discover that, invariably, the benefits of the Gospel are of immeasurable worth to all human culture and society.[80]

We joyfully acknowledge that all of life is to be brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We therefore encourage the members of Christ's Church to bring the Word of God to bear upon all spheres of life and thought. As our lives are lived to the glory of God,[81] the way we think and act will cause us to become the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

We urge the Church to pray for, and support, the vital work of our chaplains as they minister to our Armed Forces. We also affirm the labors of our congregations as they minister to members of the Armed Forces seeking to grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ as they worship with us, living by God's grace--for His glory and the enlargement of His Kingdom forevermore.


1. The Philadelphia Presbytery Overture, the PRJC letter, and the Report of the Bills and Overtures Committee be answered by this report. Adopted

2. That the PCA continue to recognize that the individual conscience, guided by the Word of God and responsive to the counsel of the Church, must decide concerning the propriety of voluntary service in the military. Adopted

3. That the PCA believes that military service is a just and godly calling; however, that it presents special and difficult moral challenges in light of the integration of women into the armed services. Adopted

4. That the women of the PCA be warned of the many difficulties and moral and physical dangers involved in serving in the military in secular America, due to their inherent greater vulnerability. Adopted

5. If women choose voluntarily to enter military service, they should do so advisedly, with the recommendation that they seek supportive, rather than active, combatant roles.
Sent back to the Committee for deliberation and to report back to the 30th Assembly

6. That the General Assembly of the PCA is formally on record as opposed to the drafting of women into military service, in time of war or peace, under any and all circumstances, for the reason that such governmental actions would violate individual consciences as informed by the Word of God.
Sent back to the Committee for deliberation and to report back to the 30th Assembly

7. That the General Assembly of the PCA is formally on record as opposed to the assignment of women to offensive combat roles. Sent back to the Committee for deliberation and to report back to the 30`h Assembly

Item 3 - That this Assembly declare it to be the biblical duty of men to defend women and therefore that it opposes the service of women in military combat positions, as well as any conscription of women into the Armed Services of the United States.

Sent back to the Committee for deliberation and to report back to the 30th Assembly

8. That individual believers as citizens be urged to exercise their godly influence to bring about authentic spiritual and moral reformation in the military services. Adopted
9. That the PCA chaplains be encouraged in their continued ministry to all male and female personnel in their spheres of ministry. Adopted
10. That pastors and sessions be informed of this report and be encouraged to instruct their people in the matters it presents. Adopted
11. That the NAPARC and NAE churches be informed of the PCA's position on this matter. Adopted
12. That this committee be dismissed. - To report back to the 30th Assembly


TE Stephen Leonard
TE Stephen Clark
TE Ron Swafford
TE Beryl Hubbard
RE Bentley Rayburn

TE Peter Lillback
TE Tim Bayly
TE Charlie Morrison
RE Keith Stoeber
RE Don Weyburn

1 - Genesis 14
2 - Genesis 14:14
3 - Exodus 17:8-16
4 - Exodus 32:27
5 - Numbers 1:2,3a
6 - Numbers 1:45
7 - Joshua 5:13-15
8 - Luke 3:14
9 - Luke 7:1-10
10 - Luke 7:9
11- Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic 1776-1787 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1969).
12 - Robert Lecki, George Washington's War, (NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992).
13 - E.g. William Jones, Christ in the Camp (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1986).
14 - R. L. Dabney, The Life and Campaigns of Lt. Gen. T J. "Stonewall " Jackson (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1983).
15 - E.g. Isaiah 13; Jeremiah 51; Joel 2; Revelation 18; and passim.
16 - For further reading, please see Tremper Longman and Daniel G. Reid, The Holy Bible: God Is a Warrior; Loraine Boettner, The Christian Attitude Toward War; Robert A. Morey, When Is It Right to Fight; Hoyt, Augsburger, Holmes and Brown, War: Four Christian Views; Ellis Sandoz, Political Sermons of the American Founding Era (1730-1805); Robert Leckie, George Washington's War; Gordon S. Wood, Creation of the American Republic; Ned Bradford, ed., Battles and Leaders of the Civil War; A. H. Long, Memoirs of Robert E. Lee; John Bowers, Stonewall Jackson; Stackpole, They Met at Gettysburg; Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee's Lieutenants; Shelby Foote, The Civil War, 3 vols.; Burke Davis, They Called Him Stonewall.
17 - Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, Books I-IV, translation Thackerary, H. St. J. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1930) p. 621.
18 - John Chrysostom, "Homily 5 on Titus" in The Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, 14 vols., (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 13:539.
19 - John Chrysostom, "Homily 5 on Acts" in The Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, 14 vols., (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 11:30.
20 - Martin Luther, Martin Luther Table Talk. (St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing, 1974).
21 - John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy. (Edinburgh, Scotland: Banner of Truth, 1987), p. 773.
22 - R. Potter, H. Hart, N. Riffert, W. Embree, D. McPherson, Women in the Military: Special Committee Report of the Reformed Church in the United States, 1996, Internet on-line. [http://www.rcus.org/publications/position_papers/MILITARY.pdf.]
23 - "Resolution No. 3, On Women in Combat" in Annual of the Southern Baptist Convention, (Nashville, TN: Executive Committee of the SBC, 1998).
24 - 62nd General Synod, Bible Presbyterian Church, Bible Presbyterian Church Resolution 62:11 Resolution on Women in Combat, 1998, Internet: http://www.bpc.org/synod/resolutions/062_11.html
25 - Paper 98-1, in Minutes of Synod and Yearbook of Reformed Presbyterian Church, North America, (Ridgefield Park, NJ: Education and Publication Office of the RPCNA, 1998), pp. 85-86.
26 - WCF 31-4 and BOCO 3-3.
27 - BCO 3-4.
28 - WCF 31-2.
29 - WCF 31-4.
30 - James Henley Thornwell, "Theology as a Life in Individuals and in the Church," Southern Presbyterian Review, October 1859.
31 - WCF 41-4.
32 - Acts 17:6.
33 - E.g. Matthew 5:13-16.
34 - BOCO 3-3.
35 - WCF 31-5.
36 - Acts 5:28-29; 25:11.
37 - Luke 13:1-5.
38 - 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
39 - WCF 19-5.
40 - Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 55 vols., edited by Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 51, Sermons I, Translated and edited by John W. Doberstein, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973), 51:77-78.
41 - Martin Luther, attributed. [PCA Historical Center note: Compare Luther's Works, Weimar Edition, Briefwechsel (Correspondence), volume 3, page 81f.]
42 - John Murray, Collected Writings, 4 vols. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1976), 1:255.
43 - Ibid, p. 258.
44 - See Recommendation 6 below.
45 - Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 vols., (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 3:270.
46 - Ibid., 1:182-183.
47 - WCF 1-10.
48 - BOCO "Preliminary Principles," 1.
49 - WCF 20-2.
50 - WCF 1-6.
51 - Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3 vols., (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 1992), 1:135.
52 - John Owen, The Works of John Owen, 16 vols., (London: Banner of Truth, 1967), 4:192-193.
53 - WCF 1-7.
54 - Genesis 1:26-27; 5:1-2; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7.
55 - Genesis 1:26-3 1; 9:1-3.
56 - John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 7:3,4; 11:8-12.
57 - Genesis 2:7,18-24; 1 Timothy 2:12-13.
58 - Genesis 2:21-23; 1 Corinthians 11:8,12.
59 - Genesis 2:18,20; 1 Corinthians 11:9.
60 - Genesis 2:23; 3:20.
61 - Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7; 3:17; Romans 5:11-19; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Note Hebrew, adam, used throughout Old Testament to name the human race-Genesis 2:18; 5:1-2; Ezekiel 29:11; etc. The 25`h General Assembly stated: "A 'gender-inclusive'... version is inconsistent with the Biblical doctrine of divine inspiration." See Vern Poythress and Wayne Grudem, The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God's Word (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2000), pp. 233-251. 62 - Genesis 3:9-12.
63 - Genesis 3:6; Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.
64 - Genesis 2:18,20-24; 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:3.
65 - Ephesians 5:21-24; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1-6; note also Numbers 30 as Scripture proof for Westminster Confession of Faith 22:7, "Of Lawful Oaths and Vows": "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."
66 - On Genesis 3:1 Calvin comments: "...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."
67 - Genesis 3:1-24; 2 Corinthians 11:3. On Genesis 3:16 Calvin comments: "Thus the woman, who had perversely exceeded her proper bounds, is forced back to her own position."
68 - Genesis 3:1-6,17; "In hearkening to the voice of his wife Adam had forfeited his position as the crown of creation and the head of the wife, and had placed himself into the subordinate position which belonged to the woman. Instead of showing her the way in which she should walk, he had yielded to her direction and sinned against God" Edward J. Young, Genesis 3: A Devotional and Expository Study (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1983), 130.
69 - Genesis 3:6; Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.
70 - Genesis 3:16.
71 - Genesis 1:22,28; 4:1; 9:1,7; Psalm 127:3-5; 128:3-6; Malachi 2:15; 1 Timothy 2:15.
72 - Exodus 20:13; 21:22-25. (verse 22 refers to a "live child" being born; penalties apply if there is injury to the mother or child); Leviticus 20:1-5; Luke 1:39-44.
73 - 1 Peter 3:7.
74 - Ephesians 5:25-27.
75 - Key New Testament passages dealing with the nature and purpose of sexuality are based on various parts of Genesis 1-3: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 on Genesis 2:18,21-23; Ephesians 5:21-33 and Colossians 3:18-19 on Genesis 2:24 and 3:16; and I Timothy 2:8-15 and 3:1-5 on Genesis 2:7,21-22 and 3:1-6.
76 - James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
77 - Hebrews 4:12,13 For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
78 - Acts 17:6 When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, "These men who have upset the world have come here also...."
79 - Acts 2:42-47 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
80 - Matthew 5:13-16 You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.
81 - 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Index of all relevant texts in the 2001 and 2002 PCA Minutes
Women in the Military (WIM) Committee Final Report ---------------------- M30GA, 30-54, p. 282 and 30-57, p. 283
Communications 1, 2 and 6--------------------------------------------------------- M30GA, 30-57, pp. 287 - 289
Consensus Report 2001------------------------------------------------------------- M29GA, 29-57, p. 259 - 278
Final Recommendations 2002------------------------------------------------------ M30GA, 30-57, p. 285
Final Recommendations, 2001------------------------------------------------------ M29GA, 29-57, XI, p. 277 & M30GA, p. 286

"Man's Duty to Protect Woman" [Majority Report, 2001] -------------------

M29GA, 29-57, pp. 278 - 308
Minority Report 2002---------------------------------------------------------------- M30GA, 30-57, p. 287
Minority Report 2001---------------------------------------------------------------- M29GA, 29-57, p. 308 - 320
Overtures 2, 21 and 26--------------------------------------------------------------- M30GA, 30-53, III, 7, p. 245; 30-57, 5, p. 287
Supplemental Report 2002----------------------------------------------------------- M30GA, 30-57, p. 287
"Recommendations for the Wise Counsel of the Church" ------------------- M29GA, 29-57, p. 308 - 320
Motion to Send Report to the President [motion failed] M30GA, 30-60, p. 290


©PCA Historical Center, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO, 2018. All Rights Reserved.