Evangelicals Respond to Female Military Draft Proposal

Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy J. Fowler Photo from archive.defense.gov
Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy J. Fowler Photo from archive.defense.gov

The House Armed Services Committee’s recommendation that women be required to register for the draft has provoked reactions from an array of evangelicals, including Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary first lady Dorothy Patterson and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Though mandatory female registration for the Selective Service is still a long way from becoming law, the House committee’s 32-30 approval of the idea April 27 led Patterson to note military service for wives and mothers “has never been the norm.”

Women generally should not participate in “military maneuvers … not because a woman does not have the giftedness and intellectual prowess to do the job, but because her assignment in managing the home and helping her husband and nurturing her children is not only one of great magnitude but also one of overwhelming importance to the nation,” Patterson, professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern, told Baptist Press in written comments.

“Contemporary efforts to eradicate the differences between the sexes and reverse divinely designed roles are causing havoc with the responsibilities women have to family and home,” Patterson said. “Women have been persuaded that they are needed more everywhere but in their own homes.”

Ironically, the proposal to include women in any future draft was offered by a congressman who opposes the idea, Rep. Duncan Hunter.

A California Republican and former Marine who served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hunter proposed the measure “to prompt discussion about how the Pentagon’s decision in December to rescind gender restrictions on military service failed to consider whether the exclusion on drafting women also should be lifted,” The Associated Press reported.

Five Republicans joined Democrats in supporting Hunter’s proposal, which was attached as an amendment to the annual defense reauthorization bill. To become law, the amendment would have to gain approval from the full House and the Senate.

Patterson noted that some have appealed to the Old Testament judge Deborah to justify women in combat. But she rejected that argument as “twisting the Scriptures.”

“Deborah has been called a warrior by some in the modern arena, but she described herself as ‘a mother in Israel,’ whether a descriptor of her national role or a reference to her own children,” Patterson said. “She also identified herself as ‘the wife of Lapidoth.’ She did deliver God’s words to Barak, the army commander, but she did not participate in the military operation or conduct the campaign. Without doubt she played a vital role in the deliverance of Israel from the Canaanites, but she did so within God-given boundaries.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
David Roach