Conscripted for Life, Not War: Why the Draft is Wrong for Women


I watched the latest Republican Presidential debate with usual dutifulness. I want to be informed, I want to understand the candidates, and I want to play the small part God’s given me in this process, but as this was not the first one, I didn’t expect anything revelatory.

Imagine my shock as I listened to not one, but three, so-called conservative candidates vigorously support selective service–including combat—for women, even referencing the importance of equality for their daughters in their responses. Selective service registration exists as a way to reinstitute the draft should the need arise.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who was having a hard time equating women’s progress with conscripting them to fight wars. Don’t get me wrong. I believe fathers should value their daughters. I think they should encourage them to do marvelous things. I just also happen to think they should value them as members of the female sex, not pretend that there are no biological, muscle mass differences between them and men.

It seems our government, indeed our culture, has engaged in a rendition of  The Emperor Has No Clothes, but instead it’s something more along the lines of, The Women Are No Different Than the Men. This idea that, because women can think as clearly as a man, that it would follow that she can (and should) also fight in combat against men with the same effectualness is, not to put too fine a point on it, absurd. I’m an average-sized female in relatively decent shape and even as I observe the smaller of the male sex, I know that it would be a poor bet to imagine that I could overpower or outrun such a man. There’s a reason women are anxious in dark parking lots at night and men aren’t. We aren’t stupid.

You may object. You may tell me about your friend who’s a fitness instructor or unbelievably strong or played on a boys’ lacrosse team. I grant all that. But is it the norm? And even given the fact that women can be physically strong, despite the reality that many are not, is that what God gave us strength for? To fight in combat against men?

God gave women marvelous strength. Strength that wasn’t meant to be compared or measured against a man. Last time I checked, I’d never met a man able to give birth. I’ve also never known a man able to handle months of sleep deprivation during which he fed a tiny human round the clock from his very own body. These are (some of) the unique strengths of a woman and we ought not to degrade men for being unable to perform these feats. Likewise, I should feel no sense of shame over the simple fact that I can’t take down a man in combat. Why would I want to? It’s not what I was made for.

Strength is a garment women ought to wear. The kind of strength that stretches out its arms to support the poor, to feed hungry souls, to grow and harvest all that God has given you. It is a strength that nurtures life, not war. Whether a woman can give birth or not, her strength is fundamentally different than a man’s. We can keep pretending this isn’t so, or we can embrace the body and the biology God has assigned to us.

In college, I was one of those girls who managed to get my MRS. degree along with my actual diploma. I remember the jokes and the smugness toward the girls who were open about wanting to be married and start a family. The peer pressure on college girls to forsake that sort of “wasting of your education” was sizable.

But let’s not succumb to that sort of juvenile peer pressure, as if an education’s value is found anywhere but saddled to a man and children. We won’t all get married in college (or at all) and we must all walk the path God has for us. But the desire to be married, the desire to have a family is a good one. Let’s not mistake it for something else. Similarly, the desire to live our lives now as women, clothed in the sort of strength that makes us uniquely women, not men battling in combat, is also a good one. Elisabeth Elliot said it best, “Let me be a woman.”

20 thoughts on “Conscripted for Life, Not War: Why the Draft is Wrong for Women

  1. I did some quick checks around candidate web sites, and could not find any who support a return to conscription (the draft) for either men or women. What some support (and some oppose) is allowing combat roles for those women who actively seek and can physically qualify for them in our all-volunteer armed forces.

    1. I should clarify–Jeb Bush made a point of saying that no one was trying to bring back the draft. There is no draft of men or women currently, but they were asked a hypothetical question, if they would support registration for selected service equally for men and women, and they answered yes. I’ll look for the a clip of it from the debate. If I’m wrong, I’d be happy to be!

      1. Yes, I understand your view better now. Theses days, selective service registration is “just in case” statistical record-keeping, unlike when I was a teen and you had to go get physicals etc. and a classification indicating your fitness. There’s no actual obligation for registrants (currently men) to serve.

  2. Thank you for writing about this, especially for standing against the foolish idea that men and women are exactly equivalent. It makes a mockery of equal rights. This is a huge change to our social contract, and I think it’s going to happen soon. Unfortunately, not many people know about this, and not many that do care.

    In case you don’t know, there is now a bill before congress that would make it a requirement for women to register just like men. It’s called the “Draft America’s Daughters” Act. And if that doesn’t get the job done, a Supreme Court challenge would.

  3. “And even given the fact that women can be physically strong, despite the reality that many are not, is that what God gave us strength for? To fight in combat against men?”

    Hmmmmm… but is that what God gave MEN strength for either? Did God give men strength so that they could fight against each other and perish in war?

    I think I see what you’re saying, and I appreciate the reminder to not ignore the various differences that many men and women have.

    But, no one is conscripting women into combat. The only women in combat would be the women who are able to physically handle it, which is, like you said, not many.

    So as I read perspectives like this, I think it is entirely right to question women’s participation in war… but I think the response should be to also question men’s participation in war. To claim that this activity is not suitable for women is almost to claim that it IS suitable for men. If the prospect of women in combat helps us to better see the absurdity and pain of war, then maybe it is a good thing. Maybe it will help men and women to finally work together as they were made to do, and seek peace instead of war.

    1. Hi Elle,

      Thanks for your feedback. While war isn’t something anyone is hoping for, it is a reality in our world. And should an army of strong men come to pillage and plunder, I think God made good men to defend and guard what he’s put in their care. Even Adam was told to tend and keep the Garden. “Keep” can also be translated “guard.” This was before the fall–even before sin entered, there was a reason to guard, and we see the reason why when the serpent shows up in the story.

      So, I do think men were made for war, in the sense that, if war comes, God’s uniquely made men to fight and to protect. I hope you can see that that doesn’t make me an advocate of war for war’s sake. The last thing I want is a world where my husband or sons would be sent to war, but should someone need to be sent, it ought to be them. Men have strength, greater than a woman’s. The problem is that they don’t know what it’s there for, and the spirit of our age has made a mess of this good gift God’s given men–to the point where some are taking hormone treatments to do away with their God-given strength and manhood. We need a revival of Christian families and churches teaching our sons why God made them men. And likewise for our daughters.

      Hope this elaboration helps.

    2. “But, no one is conscripting women into combat.”


      With women registered with the Selective Service, if a draft was called, women would be drafted. They could be sent into combat. Since the draft is done by lot, fit men would be staying home while women go to war.

      In 2004-2008 IIRC, the military got pretty short on volunteers. They dug deep into the National Guard and reserves, involuntarily extended enlistments, accelerated rotation of units back into combat, and extended combat tours. The possibility of a draft isn’t all that far-fetched.

  4. There are certainly some problems with women in conscription, including what the rules would be for women of conscription age who are married or have children, but it would be more accurate to say, that if conscription took place, not every woman, in fact – based on physical realities – most of the women conscripted would not be in combat positions. There are many other roles in the Armed Forces which women can fill and did fill in WWII so that men could be on the front lines.

    Although I agree that women can not safely fill most combat roles, there is something to be said for teaching women to fight, especially in cases of war where invasion is a possibility. These women for example, are fighting for their own protection:

  5. Thank you for this wonderful post. Feminism may scream loudly that men and women have no innate differences, but it ignores the fact that most men are naturally protective of women. And that most women like to feel protected. Chivalry would have to be drummed out of the male if he were to fight side by side with females. He could not keep focused on attacking the enemy if he was preoccupied with the well-being of the person beside him. A certain level of de-sensitization is already required for war. (A man who would not normally shed blood learns to kill.) But if he is also forced to disregard the needs of women, he becomes a barbarian.

  6. I’m interested in your thoughts on women in the military in general. Is it Godly to be in a combat support role, with a very low chance of fighting in combat, yet a very high chance of deploying to a “combat” location? I only ask because I struggle with this myself, and I can appreciate much of your argument against women fighting in combat.

    1. That’s a great question. I think that would be left to individual’s consciences. I think there would have to be some pretty extreme circumstances for a woman with a husband and children at home to sign up for something like that. It’s hard for me to think of a scenario where I would be comfortable saying that that was right–that it would be right for her to leave that primary role as wife/mother for serving in the military. In general, I think a woman shouldn’t do that.

      I can see a situation where a single woman, especially if she had a particular area of training, could use her skills in that way. I think if she has a wise, godly family or friends and they confirm that she’s got the right temperament for that, it could be an option. There would be lots to consider of course–the military culture, how that might effect her, the length of commitment, etc.

      Hope this helps!

  7. I don’t disagree with your points about differences between men and women, and I appreciate your consideration for those among us who are single and childless, for whatever reason. (I also appreciate that you haven’t misquoted Scripture to provide ready “proof” of your point…I’ve seen that a few places.)

    However, I do think the argument needs to be taken deeper, in a few ways.

    First, let’s back up and look at why I connect with your comments for the single and childless: I have the gift of celibacy. I literally don’t experience romantic or sexual attraction or desire whatsoever. I don’t mind children, and I used to think I wanted to get married at some point, but actually all I wanted was for someone to treat me with respect and not as a live-in servant. (And suffice to say that I am being polite in that descriptor of how I was treated.)

    You know that derision you witnessed for the MRS. folks in college? It’s my personal experience that the church as a whole is worse for young, single women.

    I’ve been told to my face that I can’t gave the gift of celibacy because I’m attractive both physically and intellectually (by someone who meant it as a compliment). I’ve had my professional expertise ignored and/or belittled because I have no husband to state it on my behalf. I’ve even had dangerous-to-me allergens shoved in my face or outright fed to me more than once, because an unmarried, childless young woman “can’t possibly” be mature enough to be telling the truth on those things. (Probably should’ve ended up in the hospital at least one of those times, but suffice to say I’ve had cracked bones that never got hospital care, either.)

    I have several years’ training and experience in communication, observation, and explanation. And yet my unmarried, childless state has been stated outright as reason to ignore me—at more than one church!

    And then there’s this presumption that guys should have nothing to do with their own families, outside of specific defined roles that aren’t healthy for them, either. I have personally witnessed guys getting ragged on and ridiculed (sometimes even to their faces) and even being outright harassed for being willing to cook or help their wives with the housework and children!

    Children are not solely a wife’s responsibility, and husbands are as responsible to be there for their wives as wives are to be there for their husbands. The arguments against the military for women with families at home can also apply equally to men. (And if you want to make the argument that men are supposed to be the breadwinners—which is debatable, considering Proverbs 31 actually displays the wife as the one with the successful business—there’s also the factor of marriages where the husband can’t work, for whatever reason, meaning the wife must.)

    So why are the anti-draft arguments limiting themselves to speaking about women and indirectly perpetuating the underlying attitude that men don’t belong in their own homes?

    I’m also concerned by how US studies of females in combat outright conflict with or contradict the the results of actual active units internationally, because that has implications about the cultures being compared (if not about the accuracy of the data). Israel’s IDF features mandatory conscription, female soldiers, and even mixed-gender units (ex. “Caracal Battalion”)—all things that, theoretically, should sabotage the IDF’s effectiveness…yet doesn’t seem to. So why not?

    But you’re quite right that men and women have biological differences—from each other and even amongst themselves—and there’s nothing wrong with a woman wanting a spouse and kids. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting them, either. 🙂

  8. Opening combat roles to women was a terrible idea. But now that horse has left the barn (and no current presidential candidate, no current congresspersons have the moral courage to reverse it) requiring women to register for Selective Service IS going to happen, and if (God forbid 10,000 times) a draft is reinstituted, women WILL be drafted. It will be an unholy mess, but it is going to happen.

    From a picture on your site, you have three girls. They’ll all have to register, there won’t be anything you or they will be able to do about it unless you’re willing to go to jail.

    The physical unsuitability of women for combat and even sustained support roles in and near combat has been well documented. A female Marine who was about as physically capable as any woman is ever going to be shares her experience:

    Then there are the questions of how exactly do you integrate men and women into a combat unit where they are virtually living in each other’s pockets for weeks at a time? Looking for a private space to pee in combat? Good luck with that. (article is behind a paywall, but it is very much worth fishing around for)

    The experience of Israeli women in combat is not what the Left would like to have you believe it is:

    Why is this going to happen? One big factor is that pastors are going to remain silent about it. Ask your pastor “When are you going to speak up about this?” Ask your Session/Deacon Board/Elders (however your church is organized) “Will you stand behind families who resist allowing their daughters to be compelled to register for the Selective Service?” Odds are you’ll be disappointed with the answers.

    Prayer of course is the first thing, and the main thing. It is not the only thing. In the United States God has uniquely given it to us to determine our own leadership. In the 2016 election, it will come down to either the Democratic or Republican candidate. With the former, there is absolutely no chance whatever of this terrible construct being reversed, with the latter there is at least a microscopically tiny chance of rectifying it. That plays out pretty much down the line with state and local offices.

    Stinky choices, and likely very offensive to readers of this blog. But like the Ghost of Christmas Past said ” “That they are what they are, do not blame me!”

  9. Once again women want all the rights without the responsibilities. While drafting women to combat is both wrong and will decrease military effectiveness, I hope it is done. At some point women ought get exactly what they clamor for: equal treatment. Western culture rejected God’s plan, where the primary sphere of woman is the home, and now we wonder why the evil extreme Islam holds appeal for so many. You Christian ladies do not cover your heads at Church, you do not obey or respect your husbands and you seek careers ABOVE homes. Fine, I hope you get drafted right into the world you love.

  10. Great post, Abigail! I’ve had a few thoughts bouncing around on this topic but time to thoughtfully comment on blogs is nearly nonexistent with sick babies.;) The aspect of this discussion that I wish more people would hit on is the toll that combat takes on the human psyche, because as long as our nation still stands, sending people to war also means welcoming some of them back home. My husband is a combat veteran who experienced “sustained fighting,” which is to say: actual grisly, ugly, blood-and-guts-flying war while he was in Iraq nine years ago. Because our relationship predated his deployment, I have known him pre- and post- war, and I don’t think we can ever fully quantify how much that experience takes out of a person who survives. What we women like to consider a detrimental part of most men’s emotional makeup – being less emotionally connected or sensitive – may be the very thing that steels them to recalibrate their brains for combat and allows veterans to reenter civilian society. (This is still a profound challenge for men, as indicated by the high rates of PTSD, mental illness, homelessness, suicide, divorce, etc., among veterans.) Women process trauma differently than men, and frankly, it’s bad enough knowing what men have to face to figure out real life again afterwards. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live in a society with a bunch of women who were trying to recover from war!

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