When I was in college, President Jimmy Carter reinstituted draft registration as a response to the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan. Many of us were concerned that it wouldn’t be long before a draft was started and we would be sent to war. The English department of my college offered a January session writing class for those of us who considered ourselves to be conscientious objectors. We would have discussions and writing assignments to get us to explore our beliefs more deeply and to help us craft a paper that we could use to explain our conscientious objections to draft boards.
The first assignment was to write a paper about whether or not we thought it was moral to start the draft back up. I argued that it was not. The second assignment was to write a paper answering the question, “If a draft is reinstated, should it include women as well as men.” My paper was very short. My paper was very short:
In my previous paper, I explained why we should not have a draft. We should not have a draft of men. We should not have a draft of women. We should not have a draft of men and women.
These days, the debate is about gay and lesbian people in the military.
The Rev. John F. Gundlach, a United Church of Christ minister who retired after 23 years as an active-duty naval chaplain, recently wrote in Stars and Stripes about ending the military’s “Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy that bars gays and lesbians from openly serving. His focus was more on the role of chaplains should DADT end then on the policy decision itself, though he supports ending DADT.
His concluding paragraph says:
This current struggle will, indeed, test the mettle of the services and their Chaplain Corps. The real question here is whether justice will be done, and whether chaplains will be part of the solution or continue to be part of the problem.
Facebook friends have posted the link to this article and one even emailed me the link. They are universally proud that a military chaplain (even retired) is standing up against DADT and against the chaplains who are falsely claiming that ending DADT will violate the religious freedom of chaplains who are homophobic.
The truth is, almost all of my friends – LGBT and heterosexual – oppose DADT. They think LGBT people should be allowed to serve openly and honorably in the military services of our country. I respect them and I appreciate their standing up for LGBT equality. And I disagree with them.
Imagine with me that DADT was expanded, instead of abolished. Imagine what would happen if DADT included heterosexuals. What if no one was allowed to serve in the military … imagine what would happen then.
No military at all.
Back in college, I was right. It is wrong to draft men, women, or men & women. It is wrong because war is not an answer to our fears and vulnerabilities and the purpose of the military is to fight wars. The only thing that can protect us from our fears is the perfect love of God.
So, I question the existence of our military as it is presently constituted. There may be a need for an international police force that can intervene when necessary as police (rather than as an invading army), for instance when genocides are taking place (like in Darfur), but we cannot simultaneously prepare for war and create peace.