The Battle of Caransebes
Different portions of an Austrian army, which were scouting for forces of the Ottoman Empire, fired on each other by mistake, causing self-inflicted decimation. The battle took place on the evening of 17 September 1788. Ottomans were victorious and captured the city.
The army of Austria, approximately 100,000 strong, was setting up camp around the town of Karánsebes (now Caransebeş, in modern Romania). The army’s vanguard, a contingent of hussars, crossed the Timiş River nearby to scout for the presence of the Ottoman Turks. There was no sign of the Ottoman army, but the hussars did run into a group of gypsies, who offered to sell schnapps to the war-weary soldiers. The cavalrymen bought the schnapps and started to drink.
Soon afterwards, some infantry crossed the river. When they saw the party going on, the infantry demanded alcohol for themselves. The hussars refused to give them any of the schnapps, and while still drunk, they set up makeshift fortifications around the barrels. A heated argument ensued, and one soldier fired a shot.
Immediately, the hussars and infantry engaged in combat with one another. During the conflict, some infantry began shouting “Turci! Turci!” (“Turks! Turks!”). The hussars fled the scene, thinking that the Ottoman army’s attack was imminent. Most of the infantry also ran away; the army comprised Italians from Lombardy, Slavs from the Balkans, and Austrians, plus other minorities, many of whom could not understand each other. While it is not clear which one of these groups did so, they gave the false warning without telling the others, who promptly fled. The situation was made worse when officers, in an attempt to restore order, shouted “Halt! Halt!” which was misheard by soldiers with no knowledge of German as “Allah! Allah!”.
As the cavalry ran through the camps, a corps commander reasoned that it was a cavalry charge by the Ottoman army, and ordered artillery fire. Meanwhile, the entire camp awoke to the sound of battle and, rather than waiting to see what the situation was, everyone fled. The troops fired at every shadow, thinking the Ottomans were everywhere; in reality they were shooting fellow Austrian soldiers. The incident escalated to the point where the whole army retreated from the imaginary enemy, and Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II was pushed off his horse into a small creek.
Two days later, the Ottoman army arrived. They discovered 10,000 dead and wounded soldiers and easily took Caransebeş
(Source, Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kar%C3%A1nsebes)
I would like to call for a ceasefire in this debate regarding gender equality in the church. Many women are feeling increasingly frustrated with the lack of opportunity to minister in the church either because of denominational tradition, prejudices within the individual churches or sincere belief that men and women are different and are called by God to different roles which preclude any speaking to or teaching of men. As a result of this frustration and conflict many women, and men, rather than exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit, are tending to rely on the time honoured means of squaring off against each other as enemies on the battlefield.
This must not be the case. As the battle of Caransebes with its embarrassing and devastating own goal scenario proves all this does is destroy our integrity and expose us to the derision of the world for foolishness and division. Women do not need to become feminists in order to obey the Lord and His call on their lives. Yet in a recent discussion, even Germaine Greer has conceded that gender equality is not the panacea that we think it is. A few months ago on the ABC’s ‘One on One’ programme Germaine pointed out that CEOs of corporations could be both male or female, but there was no point trying to reach such lofty heights if you don’t recognise that in order to become a CEO you have to first of all show yourself to be a corporate creature. Since corporations were pyramids which were littered with the bodies of those who attempted to climb to the top she felt that they were in fact not suited to either male or female humans. She stated that the system needed to be changed inherently to make them acceptable to women in particular whose primary objective was to nurture, protect and assist those in society who were less able. The business world, or in fact the working world, was not a place of gender equality simply because of the differences in our make up.
It is not a good goal for women anywhere, but more importantly in the church, to ‘be the same as men’ without understanding that even what men have is often not God’s choice for them. We frequently see the church and the family as a pyramid and the attainment of leadership and authority as a competition. Yet the Bible shows us that each gift God has given, pastor, teacher, prophet, apostle and evangelist as the work of the Holy Spirit who is manifestly not competitive, jealous, angry, hostile or aggressive. He is gentle, patient, kind, tolerant and loving. Moreover, these gifts are for the edification of the body. What do we achieve by competing with each other for the opportunity to allow these gifts to be exercised; men with men or women with men? I am not seeing much fruit of the Spirit in the debate regarding gender identity and equality which has developed on the internet in particular. Men are becoming nasty and motivated by fleshly pride and fear. Women are becoming hostile and frustrated and losing sight of their Saviour and His love for them.
I am beginning to see that our problem is not the equality of women and men in the church or the insubordination of unruly women who can’t understand this fact. Our problem has now become seeing each other as the enemy. We need to focus solely on Jesus our Saviour who would have us engage with each other rather than fight. We need to fight the enemy of our souls, yet everywhere men and women are fighting for their own rights in the church. We are in a spiritual Caransebes.
We are an army made up of people who do not understand each other because of their backgrounds, ethnicity and culture and who believe they are being victimised by others who have something they do not. There is also a power struggle ensuing. Whether we like it or not, we are like the Austrian army. The Hussars were given alcohol by the gypsies (a type of the world – some claim gypsies emerged from Egypt thousands of years ago). Some of the soldiers were jealous and wanted some alcohol but were denied it. Whether the Hussars should have given their fellow soldiers some alcohol or not is beside the point. They should not have been drinking since they were sent to spy out the land. Drunkenness and contamination from the world was the root cause of the problem here. They were not staying sober and vigilant because their enemy was prowling around seeking whom he may devour. They became drunk and dissident because they were not focused on their jobs as soldiers. They failed, and died as a result.
I believe that the breakdown of the church, both in individual Christians and in families is the result of spiritual forces of wickedness in high places working against the body of Christ. I believe the answer to this is to recognise that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and that we are called to do battle. In fact Paul calls us to stand. This is the same call as a commander would give to his troops to ‘stand their ground’ or hold the ground they have. In Christ we have a great deal, but it is possible to have this ground taken from us by the enemy. The enemy hates us with a fervency that I don’t believe we generally acknowledge as Christians. We come to church with joy and fellowship and participate in peace for the most part. However, if we were more aware of our call, of our enemy, of the fact that we are not ‘safe’ even in the very best churches, we will take up our standard with fervency and press into God with earnestness as never before.
Women fight for the right to preach and teach, they despair of the day when we will be able to hold our heads up as equals as brothers and sisters. I believe we are already in that day. Our enemy is coming against us like a flood and we have not the wisdom or revelation to see it. Our eyes need to be open to the darkness that surrounds us. The enemy will delight in our lack of oneness in the Lord. He will rejoice in our pain and dissension and the fact that we lapse back into the flesh to deal with each other rather than in the Spirit with humility and kindness. We are not talking to each other like this.
I proclaim that the day we recognise who our enemy truly is, we will engage with him and see each brother and sister as fellow soldiers. If an enemy can confuse the opposing troops and have them fighting against each other, he will be the one who wins. If Satan can take the city we are trying to defend, the spiritual Jerusalem, the city of God, we will have nothing left but rubble and dead bodies. Our army will be decimated; the enemy will gloat and be rightly pleased with himself for having taken our eyes off God and onto ourselves.
Even as God prepares His Bride for the final battle, I wonder how many of us will recognise that even if we can’t function in our spiritual giftings in this present age because of the objections of others, we can still learn obedience to God from the sufferings and trials which we endure. And this surely is our highest goal, Christlikeness. My call is to women in particular not to be distressed and frustrated and allow the flesh to rise up and take over. Walk in the Spirit, see your brothers and sisters as your family, not your enemy, and pray fervently for the strength to continue. Redeem the time for the days are evil, and watch the backs of your fellow soldiers. Our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour!
Ephesians 4: 1-6
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.