Korean Presbyterian and PCA Mission to the World women as martyrs...
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her… (Ephesians 5:25)
(by Tim) In the discussion of the current suffering and martyrdoms of our Korean brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, Valerie comments:
Here’s a thought I offer rather tentatively: What concerns me is… that the great majority of the (Korean) group’s members are women. Yes, we are all soldiers of the cross, but St. Paul didn’t take a wife on his journeys because of the danger.…
I’m reminded of an account I received a few years ago from a dear friend who is a pastor in my denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America. My friend recounted an experience he and his wife had while going through cross-cultural training under Mission to the World, the PCA’s mission agency. (MTW had subcontracted the training out to a company that specialized in providing this service to a number of evangelical mission organizations.)
Here's my friend's E-mail describing one day's training in which all the missionary candidates were captured by terrorists who then demanded that each group of missionaries provide volunteers to be executed. What follows is the account of the ensuing battle among the missionaries over whether Christian fathers should bear the primary responsibility of danger and death, or whether mothers should die so that fathers could live...
One day the leaders told us something special was planned for the
next day. When we came in that morning, they announced that we would be
doing a simulation where we would be taken hostage.
We were divided into two groups, with husbands and wives separated. We were taken to a small room and crowded in there (nineteen adults in my group; no kids involved in the simulation). Then they started playing sounds of battle all around us. They gave us a scenario. We were hiding but unknown to the terrorists who were fighting the government. Then we were discovered (because someone had been talking too loud) and taken hostage.
After a while, they asked us to choose six people who would be released as a token gesture of good will in negotiations with the government of the country where we were living. Each of the two groups choose six. Mine chose a pregnant woman and five other mothers. Then we were told the negotiations had fallen through. More battle sounds around us.
Then the terrorists told us we had to choose two hostages for execution. We chose one single man. Two fathers with grown children also volunteered. They were going to draw lots to decide which one would go.
I stopped things and asked the three men a question: Do you have assurance of salvation? One man almost broke down as he said yes. Each man answered yes.
We were about to proceed when I stopped things again. I knew one man was from a Dutch Reformed background (John Doe’s church, in fact), and so I asked: What is the basis for your assurance? Again, they each gave good answers.
I was against the lots, but they eventually drew them and chose one man. After they left we heard gun shots just outside the room we were in. Then the terrorists insisted on two others. We chose them and they were shot. Soon after this, it was announced that the executions had been fake and all the hostages were released. Although it doesn’t seem like it from my description, all this took about one hour.
Then we went upstairs for debriefing. I was surprised to find out that the other group had chosen two women to be executed.
There was some discussion about this, none of it negative. Then I
raised my hand and said if I had been in the other group, I would not
have allowed it. Pretty negative vibes sprang up rather quickly. People
began debating this and I kept silent.
Finally, someone said they wanted to know why I had said this. The girl who asked had been in my group. She had actually brought up the topic while we were in the simulation. She asked, “Why can’t a woman be chosen?”
I replied rather quickly, “This is war.” That had ended discussion during the simulation.
I proceeded to give my rationale. We are in a battle, I said, and men are to lead, provide for and protect women. The relationship of men and women in this situation is just like the husband and wife in Ephesians 5: modeled on the relationship of Christ and the church. And the church does not give her life for Christ. Rather Christ lays down his life for the church. Men are to do likewise.
Well one girl, with whom I have a lot in common, got really upset and started yelling at me. Others wanted to follow suit, I’m sure. She shouted that we are equal in Christ and on and on.
I then said, “Well, you have breasts.”
I meant to go on, but she burst in that her children don’t need her breasts anymore. “They need my husband more than they need me. Why can’t I be a martyr for Christ?”
At this point some of the leaders stepped in. Interesting things came out. One of the leaders said that in many cultures, sending out a woman might get her raped and the rest of the group killed. That thought continued the direction I was heading with my comment about breasts.
Another leader mentioned that in all the years they had been doing the simulation, only in the last eight years has a woman been sent out for execution. That went along with my earlier comment that fifty years ago, we would never have been having this discussion.
(My wife) and I met later with the girl who got upset with me. We had a good talk. I mentioned we had a lot in common. Our personalities are similar. She and her husband are going to (the same country we are), although they will be working in (another city) among the poor. I believe they are Reformed Baptists from what I can tell. She told us that later, in talking with her husband and reflecting on what I had said, she thought I was probably right. She just reacted emotionally, which I understood completely. It was a pretty emotional time for most of us. She said she grew up with a feminist mother and has had to fight her way through to her perspective that is pretty similar to mine.
* * *
There’s so very much instructive here, but time is short. Still, note that this group was made up of believers who were part of some of the most theologically committed and conservative churches in the United States, and that among these churches these were likely some of the most biblical and committed members of those churches giving their lives to the Lord for overseas work. Yet within these groups, there was one lone voice for the biblical doctrine of sexuality.
And this well matches my own experience as a member of the PCA General Assembly’s Ad Interim Committee on Women in the Military for several years. It was appalling to see how many of the teaching and ruling elders appointed to that committee were not simply lacking biblical commitments concerning the meaning and purpose of sexuality, but argued vehemently for the right of women to shed their blood for their country. Bringing up quotes of church fathers including Luther and Calvin, but more the example of our Bridegroom giving his life up for His Bride, had no impact on them.
To me it seemed apparent they were in favor of women in combat either because they were rather typical evangelical feminist ideologues, or because they were career officers who saw the writing on the wall at the Pentagon under President Clinton, and had made their peace with the status quo. So now they found themselves in the position of having to defend that status quo against other officers on the committee who were not ashamed of the Gospel and had not chosen their career over Christ.
Praise God, there were men on the committee—including the member who held far and away the highest rank—who were completely committed to Scripture’s teaching and were willing to lose their careers because of their public stand. And in the end, the biblical side won both the committee vote and the support of the 2002 General Assembly. But think: If this was the split of a committee of the conservative and reformed Presbyterian Church in America, imagine the state of the sexual union in other broader evangelical denominational constituency groups.
Of course, women will be martyrs—and God be praised for those godly women through the ages (like godly Perpetua) who have given their lives for the glory of Jesus Christ. But we’re dealing here with something entirely different; namely, whether women and men should share exposure to danger and death equally, without regard to their sex. And of course, at no time in church history would any man say “Yes” except in our own effeminate and decadent time.
There’s work to do—lots of work. And every voice is needed to expose and cast out this great attack upon our Bridegroom which the Evil One has brought within the Church.