Monday, February 22, 2016

Why Whole-Bible Christians Should Not Be Drafted

(Reclaimed from Blogjob; sorry, advertisers can't keep coasting on this post as if I'd been paid for it, which I have not. Blogjob can have the posts back if and when they pay me. Tags for this one: Bible references on military serviceChristians in military servicemilitary conscriptionmilitary draft of womenteenagers in military servicewhole-Bible Christianwomen in combat.)

The obvious reason would be that whole-Bible Christians should be patriotic and public-spirited; we should generally try to avoid war but, if attacked, we should be willing to serve. However, the death of Justice Antonin Scalia has stirred up talk about President Obama declaring war and drafting eighteen-year-olds--girls as well as boys. Shades of the bad idea that killed the Equal Rights Amendment! This link in the e-mail hit me like a synchronicity.
I was brought up in the belief that men shouldn't be drafted, either. In a crisis you want yourself, or anyone or anything that matters to you, to be protected by people who want to do the protecting--not by scared rabbits trapped between two lines of fire.
Yesterday, while it was raining all day, I looked through a box of papers Dad had kept in a low-priority box...mostly from the Carter Administration years. Some of them did give off a whiff of "How outdated and useless this material is."
Others could almost have died and returned to life. In the box was a document about women in combat, which seemed like a radically new and dangerous idea back then. The author drew a cartoon of a horribly wounded female soldier returning from a hypothetical future war against the Arabs. Is this what we want for our daughters, he asked. (Rhetorically, I'm sure; any daughters a 75-year-old might have are probably past draft age.) If not, then we should oppose it on religious grounds. Whole-Bible Christians have a solid biblical basis for claiming an exemption from military service for any female. There was a short Bible study on the back of the page.
The church from which Dad received the cartoon was not part of a larger denomination and, like most unaffiliated churches, has failed to outlive its pastor. However, the Bible study is valid. The author, a retiree who didn't profit from the document in any way, placed it completely in the public domain.
The law of Moses provides very specific instructions for mustering an army. All young people should be willing to place their energy at their country's service. No person, male or female, should be "drafted" at gunpoint. A successful army is an army of volunteers.
Sexuality should not be allowed to complicate issues that are complicated enough at best. Although ancient Israelite women served their country's war efforts in many ways, male soldiers were specifically commanded to keep away from women--even from their own wives, if married, on the eve of battle. There is no evidence of women forming separate troops, as has happened more recently. Women were the home guard, the very last line of protection the children had. Sometimes they fought, but they fought from home.
In Bible days teenagers were taught and expected to defend themselves. A lot of ancient Israelite teenagers, including girls, worked as animal herders, who had to protect witless sheep from lions, wolves, and bears, let alone human criminals. This gave them a lot of time for target practice, and they didn't even have firearms; in order to be sure shots, as David was, they had to have strong arms as well as keen eyes. Nevertheless, teenagers were banned from regular military service. According to the law of Moses every soldier deserved at least a year of grown-up life before he died, so if "any man" had built a house, bought land, or been married during the year before a battle, he was told to go home and live in his house, on his land, and/or with his wife for a year. No one under age twenty could be accepted into the regular army.
Finally--and this had only been one of the defining issues in my father's life--the Bible bans "the fainthearted" from combat. Military leaders are specifically told to call out "any man that is afraid" and send him home. (Deuteronomy 20:8.)
I have the rest of the Bible references. I thought I might keep this document as a souvenir, but since the topic seems to be reappearing as current, maybe I should share copies of it with any readers who want their children (or themselves) not to be drafted. Please use the comment space to let me know.