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Question

 

Gramps,

Years ago, I heard Barbara Smith, (the Relief Society President at that time) says that the Church of Jesus Christ didn’t support women in combat. I was wondering if that was still true.

Judy

 

Answer

 

Dear Judy,

Let me start off by saying, I could find nothing that gave the Church’s stance on women in combat or the military.  However, Sister Smith did use her position to voice her opinion regarding women in the military.  It was during a time that there was another wave of the feminist movement and she defended the sacred role of women.  She did state she was against women in the military.

Few things have changed more than societies view of gender roles in the past 75 years. While this isn’t the place for a debate on if those changes have been good or bad it is obviously true that they have changed. 75 years ago it would have been fairly uncommon for a woman to be in a combat role.  You didn’t have to belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to hold that position. In fact, I’m fairly sure that the view that women should not be in combat was held by an overwhelming majority of Americans, both in and out of the church.

Gender roles have changed, and combat has also changed.  As of January 24, 2013, the Secretary of Defense has lifted the ban on women being in combat and on October 26th of 2016, ten women became the first female graduates from the United States Army’s Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course at Fort Benning. In 2015 it was announced from the Pentagon that women could now serve on the front line.  To be clear, many other countries also have women fighting in combat roles and have been doing that for decades.

Whatever the Church said in the past, they clearly have no problem with women serving in combat in the United States defense. In fact, you can read about one womans story right here.

If the Church had an issue with women being in combat, you wouldn’t be reading about her nor would she be allowed to teach in the Relief Society.

There are few things you can do for your country that are more unselfish and noble than serving in the armed forces. The church fully and strongly supports our armed forces, and the men and women who serve in them. No matter what their roles might be, and no matter what their gender is.

God bless,

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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