Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Presbyterian Statements on Women and the Draft

Since it is in the news again that the US Senate Committee on Armed Forces is proposing (once again) to start requiring women to register for the draft in the 2025 NDAA (see here), I thought I would share a few statements from Presbyterian denominations in NAPARC on women and the draft/military. This is not comprehensive, as other denominations have made similar statements. My local church also has its own statement on this in its constitution. Hopefully this provision is taken out of the final bill, and perhaps these statements might be worth including in a letter to your senator or representative. I believe the requirement for women to register for the draft to be both unwise and immoral on account of the distinction between the sexes revealed in creation and in the Bible. In the Bible, men alone are assigned the responsibility for national defense (Neh. 4:14, Num. 1:2-3, Deut. 24:5), and this was not something pertaining to ancient Israel alone, but a moral principle based in the creation order (Gen. 1:27, Is. 19:16, Jer. 51:30). 

Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 68th General Assembly, 2001:
“The 68th GA declares that the use of women in military combat is both contrary to nature and inconsistent with the Word of God.”
Presbyterian Church in America, 30th General Assembly, 2002:
"1. Acknowledging that the child in the womb is 'a person covered by Divine protection' (Statement on Abortion, Sixth General Assembly); and that women of childbearing age often carry unborn children while remaining unaware of their child's existence; and that principles of just war require the minimization of the loss of life-particularly innocent civilians; the PCA declares that any policy which intentionally places in harms way as military combatants women who are, or might be, carrying a child in their womb, is a violation of God's Moral Law. Adopted

"2. This Assembly declares it to be the biblical duty of man to defend woman and therefore condemns the use of women as military combatants, as well as any conscription of women into the Armed Services of the United States. Adopted

"3. Therefore be it resolved that the Thirtieth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America adopts the above as pastoral counsel for the good of the members, the officers, and especially the military chaplains of the Presbyterian Church in America. Adopted

"4. Be it further resolved that the Presbyterian Church in America supports the decision of any of its members to object to, as a matter of conscience, the conscription of women or the use of women as military combatants. Adopted"
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, 168th Synod, 1998:
“Therefore, be it now resolved: That, while recognizing the right and duty that women have to self-defense, which may involve physical violence (Judges 9:53), it is our conviction that Biblical teaching does not give warrant to employ women for military combat.”
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod, 2016, Index 20:
“The Word of God gives no warrant expressed or implied that women are to be conscripted into military service or required to participate in military combat. Therefore, the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church opposes the registration of women for Selective Service and the assignment of women to combat duty or to duties which involve a significant risk of engaging in combat.”

Many of these quotes are also found in Paul Barth's post on the topic: Women in the Military and in Combat. The PCA and OPC's statements can be found along with the committee reports that preceded their adoption here (PCA) and here (OPC), although I would note it is the statements rather than the reports that were adopted by the general assemblies. You can also find my earlier post about the 7th century "Law of Adamnan" on this topic here.

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