Should women be forced to sign up for the draft?

by Michael Foust, Guest Reviewer |
A Major comforts a wounded U.S. soldier outside the operation room of the 28th Combat Support hospital in Baghdad August 21, 2007 in Baghdad's fortified Green zone at one of the busiest military emergency rooms in the world. Medics there treated U.S. and Iraqi combat casualties and some Iraqi civilians. Women have served in the military since the Revolutionary War and since World War I have been allowed to voluntarily enlist. In World War II over 60,000 served as Army nurses and over 14,000 as Navy nurses. On a darker note, it has been estimated that over 500,000 women have been sexually assaulted in the military and a female soldier in a combat zone is more likely to e raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. | REUTERS/Damir Sagolj (IRAQ)

CHICAGO (Christian Examiner) – Requiring women to register for Selective Service and then forcing them into battle defies not only "God's design" for the sexes but also "common sense," the president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood says.

Owen Strachan, president of CBMW, made the comments after the top officers of the Army and Marine Corps told the Senate Armed Services Committee that they believe women should be required to register for the draft. As it stands now, only men – within 30 days of their 18th birthday – are required to register with Selective Service, which is a list of people potentially subject to the draft.

"I think that all eligible and qualified men and women should register for the draft," Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army, said in response to a question from U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D.-Mo.) last week.

Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, minutes earlier had made similar comments, and after the hearing emphasized his viewpoint.

"Now that the restrictions that exempted women from [combat jobs] don't exist, then you're a citizen of a United States," Neller told The Washington Post. "It doesn't mean you're going to serve, but you go register."

Conservative leader Tony Perkins called the thought of sending women into battle "cowardice."

Strachan, who also serves as associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., bemoaned that another area of society is pushing the gender-neutral agenda.

"This grand project presents several problems for believers," Strachan told the Christian Examiner. "It diminishes the glory of God, who created man and woman, and who loves manhood and womanhood more than anyone. It also places women in harm, and all in the name of empowering them. A compulsory draft of women means that many will be forced to enter combat positions. This is a gross violation of God's design and common sense."

Scripture and basic biology make the issue clear-cut, Strachan added.

"Men are best able, on average, to bear the brutal responsibilities and duties of warfare," he said. "Women, by contrast, have struggled in limited samples to perform the minimal physical tasks necessary to battlefield survival. We know why: God made men differently than He made women – 'male and female He created them' (Genesis 1:27). Men are made to use their greater strength to risk their lives for women and children. This is clear in the example of the great Davidic warriors, the 'mighty men' of Israel (see 2 Samuel 23). These men put their lives on the line for those God called them to protect, provide for, and lead."

Glenn T. Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, told Christian Examiner that a "virtuous nation and good soldiers protect women and children."

"They don't send their women off to battle," said Stanton, who also serves as a research fellow at the Institute of Marriage and Family in Ottawa. "The real issue here is the draft. There are highly skilled women serving in the military at very high levels and doing very important and dangerous tasks. A mother here at Focus has a daughter who is one of the Air Force's leading pilots of their biggest cargo planes. She rocks! But she chose to serve her country this way and she is making incredible contributions.

"Requiring women to register to defend their country is not virtuous," Stanton said. "Rosie the Riveter served her country heroically, but she didn't need to be drafted into the military to do it."

Meanwhile, some conservatives also are raising objections to women being drafted based on a 2015 RAND study showing that women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted or experience sexual harassment in the military. The data showed that 4.9 percent of women and 1.0 percent of men in the military reported being sexually assaulted in the past year. Additionally, 22 percent of women and 7 percent of men said they were sexually harassed in the past year.

The issue was the source of controversy at the most recent Republican debate, when three candidates – Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie – shocked social conservatives by not opposing the idea of women being forced to register.

"I do believe that Selective Service should be opened up for both men and women in case a draft is ever instituted," Rubio said.

Asked if women should be required to sign up, Bush responded, "I do."

Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Selective Service for women is only the logical next step after Defense Secretary Ash Carter ignored "the advice of his military chiefs" and chose to "bring women into the most dangerous, grueling roles in the service."

"What kind of nation forces its sisters, daughters and granddaughters onto a battlefield against their will?" Perkins asked in a column online. "That's not progress. It's the worst kind of cowardice. And what good is 'equality' if it's only setting women up for disaster and failure? As a Marine and the father of three daughters, I think the most pro-woman decision America could make is sparing them from policies that order them into harm's way."

Said Strachan, "Christians oppose measures like the draft for women because our view of womanhood is glorious. We believe God infused womanhood with dignity and beauty. The shallow, fierce, gender-neutral-gray vision of womanhood offered by the culture pales in comparison to what God calls women to be."