Ugly Betty

Betty isn’t ugly but we are making her that way.  In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when Father Christmas is handing out gifts he gives to Susan a bow and a quiver full of arrows and a bow and says, “You must use the bow only in great need, for I do not mean you to fight in the battle.”  To Lucy he gives a dagger saying, “And the dagger is to defend yourself at great need. For you also are not to be in the battle.”  This puzzles her and she says, “’Why, Sir?  I think – I don’t know – but I think I could be brave enough.’”  Father Christmas responds as so many fathers today fail to, “That is not the point.  But battles are ugly when women fight.” 


We are making Betty ugly by forcing her in the name of egalitarianism and utilitarianism ever closer to the front lines of combat.  President-elect Obama supports women being required to register for the military draft and wants to see them placed in combat.  His national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi is quoted by the Pittsburg Post-Gazette saying, “’Women are already serving in combat [in Iraq and Afghanistan] and the current policy should be updated to reflect realities on the ground’” (World, November 15/22, 2008, 60).  Obama equates not allowing women to serve in combat with the U.S. at one time not allowing African-Americans so to serve (Ibid, 61).


Women have been increasingly pushed toward the Forward Edge of the Battle Area since 1994.  Policy changes were made then but this was before reports came out of what happened to captured female soldiers in the 1991 Gulf War.  In the current Gulf War, Private Jessica Lynch came forward after the news reported her heroically fighting back when her convey was ambushed.  The truth was she didn’t fire a round, and once captured she was brutally, sexually assaulted even though wounded at the time (Ibid, 62).


Her captors treated Betty ugly; we are making Betty ugly.  I graduated from New Mexico Military Institute in 1977, the last year of an all male corps of cadets.  I get fund raising appeals from the alumni association.  Their latest one was a large postcard.  One picture on it showed two first year cadets sitting at a table.  The male had his head completely shaven.  The female’s hair was shoulder length.  Do you know why there was a difference?  You shave a young man’s head and you humble him.  You shave a young woman’s hair and you brutalize her; you make Betty ugly.


NMMI won’t go that far; our country will.  Sinful fallen father’s will. This should not surprise us; this is what we should expect.  Abraham and Isaac both put their wives in danger to protect themselves.  We should expect that we fallen men are capable of such base behavior.  We are capable of asking women to do what they shouldn’t, and they will do it because we ask them.


In C.S. Lewis’ novel Till We All Have Faces a woman asks these rhetorical questions: “Would a father see his daughter happy as a whore?  Would a woman see her lover happy as a coward?” Modern fathers do the former.  They are happy to see their daughters prostituting themselves as live in lovers.  Modern, liberated women do the latter.  They are quite happy to have themselves or their daughters on the front lines protecting their husbands and sons thereby making cowards of them.


My congregation for 3 conventions has asked the LCMS to take a stand opposing women in combat.  The resolution has never made it out of the floor committee comprised (surprise, surprise) of mostly men.  This despite special appeals made to the floor committee at least to let the convention vote on it.  At the 2007 convention, it seemed like it might make it to the floor.  Then an LCMS military chaplain told the floor committee simply, “There is no problem with this.”


He has no problem making Betty ugly.  He doesn’t understand that this works like The Picture of Dorian Gray.  The brave, strong women doing the ugly thing that cowardly men ask them to aren’t the ones being made ugly.  We are.


However, by God’s mercy, beauty – which is God’s order of creation functioning properly, aptly, fittingly – might win out in the end.  A father told me he had on a whim made his 3 year-old daughter a Peter Pan sword.  She promptly took that sword, wrapped it in a cloth, and put it to bed with the rest of her dolls.  What a beautiful way for a woman to treat a sword!  Unlike Susan and Lucy, this little lady intuitively knows that women should only use a sword as a sword when men can’t or won’t defend them.  Think what it means when men put the sword in their hand and stand behind them.  This is hiding behind apron strings, and it is an ugly, ugly thing for a man to do.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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  1. Pingback: The Silence of Adam: Sending Women into Combat | Steadfast Lutherans

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