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Topic: Cultural Engagement

Congressional Committee: Your daughters should be required to register for the draft

March 27, 2020

Should our daughters be required to enlist for the United States military draft?

This question — once reserved for theoretical ethics and water-cooler arguments about the implications of male-female equality — was answered in the affirmative this week by a US congressional committee. Yes, your daughters should be eligible for military draft because, according to the committee’s report, this is only “fair.” What an anodyne watchword for such a radical revolution.

The committee, named the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, was established by Congress at the tail-end of President Obama’s second term. It was formed in response to concerns surrounding the radical policy proposals of the Obama administration, including a directive that expanded all forward combat roles to women. In previous challenges to a male-only draft, the US Supreme Court justified the exclusion of women by relying on the age-old restriction that combat roles are reserved for men. Now, with that restriction gone, according to the report released this week by the congressional commission, “the time is right to extend Selective Service System registration to include men and women, between the ages of 18 and 26.”

The report goes on to explain that this step is not only “fair,” but “necessary.” Necessary according to what?

When the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood found out about this commission and its consideration regarding the conscription of our nation’s daughters into military service, CBMW drafted a statement signed by the board and sent it into the commission. CBMW’s statement is included as part of the official record.

In addition to this effort, as a Southern Baptist myself, I drafted a similar statement ahead of the 2019 annual meeting and submitted it to the Resolutions Committee, which was adopted overwhelmingly by the messengers. These statements can be read here and here, or below in this post. Please feel free to distribute these statements — use them and make your own, even — that’s what they were written for.

In light of this new report, which will now be considered by Congress and the President for action, evangelicals need to ask some tough questions. I have in mind at least three groups:

  • Egalitarians, do you support drafting the nation’s daughters — your daughters — into the United States military? If not, on what basis do you make your argument?
  • Narrow complementarians, if male-female distinctions should only inform what happens in the home and the church, not in society, do you then support female military conscription? Into combat? If not, on what basis?
  • Fathers, if the United States does decide to require your daughters to enlist with the Selective Service to be eligible for the military draft, what will you do?

There are many things dominating the headlines today, but I hope we all are paying attention to this one.

CBMW’s Statement Against Female Conscription

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood stands unequivocally against conscripting America’s daughters into military service. Requiring women to register with the Selective Service alongside men to make them eligible for military conscription would be to treat men and women interchangeably and to deny male and female differences clearly revealed in nature and Christian Scripture.

The Testimony of Nature

The natural order, considered by plain reason, supports what the vast majority of civilized societies — ancient and modern — have recognized: men are better suited than women for warfare; thus, women are at a disadvantage against men in warfare. The inherent, distinct, physiological compositions of male and female point to differently-suited purposes that have implications in the realm of fighting. The average man is stronger and has a larger frame than the average woman, making him better equipped for aggression; the female body is naturally equipped to nurture the next generation, suiting the average woman better for care and not combat. Only a non-scientific assessment of male and female physiology overlooks these plain and natural differences.

Nature and plain reason also warn that a government that conscripts its female citizens in their reproductive prime is a government that fails to seek what is best for its future and the future of its citizens. A woman aged 18–25, the current range for military conscription, is in the midst of her prime reproductive years. Therefore, to conscript a generation of women — wives, mothers, and daughters — is to demographically doom the next. Drafting women into the military, where many could be involuntarily assigned combat roles, would set the nation up for demographic disaster as birth rates would be inevitably and drastically affected.

Moreover, not only could a woman, unbeknownst to her, be with child when conscripted, she could also become pregnant during her time of service, which would put her and her unborn baby in the path of great harm — not to mention the necessary leave during pregnancy and postpartum that would require additional resources to train her replacement.

Furthermore, should a woman become a prisoner of war, she could be subjected to rape and sexual abuse at the hands of enemy combatants that could lead to unwanted pregnancy. Especially in light of our current cultural moment, we should be seeking to protect America’s daughters against such abuse, not making provision for it. This great evil would be aided and abetted by a nation that places women involuntarily on the front lines of warfare.

The Testimony of Christian Scripture

Christian Scripture affirms what is revealed in nature and provides further significance and clarification to this revelation. Scripture teaches that Adam was created first and given familial and covenantal headship. Eve was created second to be Adam’s complementary helpmeet, corresponding to his likeness and complementing his nature with differing sexual, physical, and psycho-social characteristics that form the basis for their complementary roles (Gen. 1:27; 2:18–24; 1 Cor. 11:2–10; 1 Tim. 2:12–13). One divine purpose of the complementary differences between male and female is the fulfillment of the creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth through the divine institution of the family (Gen. 1:28), which necessitates periods of vulnerability on the part of the woman and provision and protection on the part of the man while a woman is with child, both in utero and in the child’s infancy.

Male headship in the family and the covenant community is patterned after the creational arrangement and is rooted in the very nature of God’s original design before sin entered the world (1 Cor. 11:2–10; 1 Tim. 2:12–13). The family, husband and wife in covenantal marriage and father and mother to their God-given offspring, is a pre-political institution that God-fearing nations must not subvert in law or custom. Conscripting wives, mothers, and daughters against their will and away from their own families would constitute just such a subversion and disrupt this fundamental unit of society, without which there is no society.

Christian Scripture also unequivocally teaches that God created men and women with differences for distinct purposes that must not be ignored. The biblical pattern is for men, as the physically stronger sex (1 Pet. 3:7), to lead and to protect their families and covenant communities, including, when necessary, in warfare apart from civil vocations for a time (Gen. 14:14; Num. 31:3, 21, 49; Deut. 20:5-9; 3:14; Josh. 1:14-18; 6:3, 7, 9; 8:3; 10:7; 1 Sam. 16:18; 18:5; 2 Sam. 11:1; 17:8; 23:8-39; Ps. 45:3-5; SoS. 3:7-8; Isa. 42:13). Accordingly, the Bible commands husbands — not wives — to lay down their lives for their spouses just as Christ did for the church (Eph. 5:25).

It is not a properly ordered society that sends its daughters to combat; instead, Scripture indicates it is a sign of shame and disorder for a society to do so (Jer. 50:37; Nah. 3:13). When Deborah went out with Barak to battle — Scripture does not indicate she fought, but that she accompanied him to the battlefield — it was to his and Israel’s shame (Judg. 4:9). Further, when Jael wielded the hammer and peg against Sisera, it was not as a soldier but as a citizen under invasion, and this to the shame of the men charged with Israel’s protection (Judg. 4:17–22). Moreover, when God commands his people not to confuse the garments of men and women, forbidding men to wear women’s clothes and women men’s clothes in Deuteronomy 22:5, it is literally the garb of warfare that is forbidden to women.


The biological differences between male and female evident in both nature and Christian Scripture necessitate that men and women not be treated indistinctly and interchangeably. While we respect the decision of women who wish to engage in military service as volunteers, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, represented by the undersigned, vehemently opposes every effort to force women into military service by government coercion. With the strongest conviction, the Council urges the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service to reject any recommendation to require America’s daughters to register with the Selective Service to make them eligible for conscription.

Denny R. Burk, Ph.D.
President, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Professor, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Danny Akin, Ph.D.
Member of the Board, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jason Duesing, Ph.D.
Member of the Board, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Provost, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Ligon Duncan, Ph.D.
Member of the Board, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminaries

Wayne Grudem, Ph.D.
Founder and Member of the Board, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Distinguished Research Professor, Phoenix Theological Seminary

Jeff Purswell, Ph.D.
Member of the Board, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Dean, Sovereign Grace Pastors College

Erik Thoennes, Ph.D.
Member of the Board, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Professor, Talbot School of Theology

Thomas White, Ph.D.
Member of the Board, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
President, Cedarville University

Colin J. Smothers, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

2019 SBC Resolution: On Expanding The Selective Service To Include Women

WHEREAS, The United States Congress in 2016 appointed a National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service to investigate the question of expanding Selective Service registration to all Americans, which would subject women to potential military conscription, and to report back to the President and Congress in March 2020; and

WHEREAS, The Commission is currently soliciting input from America’s religious institutions on this question; and

WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention in 2016 adopted a resolution “On Women Registering for the Draft” wherein the Convention resolved to “call on the Administration, Congress, and all military leaders not to require women to register for military drafts”; and

WHEREAS, Requiring women to register for the Selective Service alongside men would be to treat men and women interchangeably and to deny male and female differences clearly revealed in Scripture and in nature; and

WHEREAS, We honor women who wish to engage in military service as volunteers, however, we oppose efforts to force women into military service by government coercion; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, June 11–12, 2019, strongly urge the President and Congress not to expand the Selective Service to include women, which would be to act against the plain testimony of Scripture and nature; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we continue to affirm the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention resolution “On Women Registering for the Draft.”

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