WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – The Republican-led Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would require women to register for the draft when they turn 18, putting the proposal one step closer to becoming law and drawing disbelief and protest from Christian and conservative leaders around the country.
Although the draft has not been used since the Vietnam War, for some Christian leaders the mere possibility that daughters, sisters and even mothers could be ordered off to war is outrageous.
Owen Strachan, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, called the action a "departure from both Scripture and nature."
"Many of us are grateful for women who serve in the armed forces in various capacities, but we draw the line at asking women to enter combat. Fathers like me will now find ourselves in a difficult spot: We want to support our government, but we will never ask our daughters to die for us," Strachan told the Christian Examiner. "Let me put it this way: My little girls will die for me over my dead body."
The language related to the draft was part of an amendment in a larger bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed 85-13. If it becomes law, it would require women who turn 18 on or after Jan. 1, 2018 to register for Selective Service.
The issue is but one example of how the culture has turned dramatically in the past decade, if not simply the past five years. During the George W. Bush administration, such a proposal likely would have divided the two parties, and it almost certainly would not have received a vote in a GOP-led Senate. But on the Senate floor this week, even Sen. John McCain – the Republican 2008 nominee – supported the idea. In 2010, McCain opposed a proposal allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly.
"Every single leader in this country, both men and women, members of the military leadership, believe that it's fair since we opened up all aspects of the military to women that they would also be registering for Selective Services," McCain said, according to The New York Times.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas opposed the bill and said in a statement: "I could not in good conscience vote to draft our daughters into the military, sending them off to war and forcing them into combat."
Glenn T. Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, told the Christian Examiner that a "virtuous country does not send its daughters to fight its battles."
"Unapologetically, that is men's work," Stanton said.
There is a difference, he added, between allowing women to serve in the military and requiring them to do so.
"There have long been good women who have chosen to fight to protect their nation, even in close battle," Stanton said. "But they did so because they wanted to. Women can indeed serve their nation well in the military. That is not a question. But a good nation certainly does not require our daughters to, and our mothers and fathers should not stand for it."
Social conservatives still have hope that the proposal will be killed in the House, which already passed its own version of the bill that does not include the women-in-the-draft amendment.
Strachan said that in the Bible, "men are called to be like Christ, and to put the good of women and children before themselves."
"For the Christian tradition, this has meant that men go to war to protect family, community and country," he said. "This principle is no challenge to hold, but depends upon the constitutive differences of manhood and womanhood. In a gender-blurred society, we recognize no such essential distinctions."
According to the Selective Service website, failure of men to register means they might not be eligible for federal student loans and grant programs, or federal jobs. They also might not receive security clearance as a contractor.