It seems likely that women in the U.S. will soon be required to register for military conscription. Leaving aside the question of whether the draft is a just instrument altogether, the larger issue is how the American church will respond to this.
When the winds of this change began blowing in 2016, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod passed a resolution supporting those members who have “a religious and moral objection to women participating in the selective service system and being subject to a possible draft”. The LCMS followed up this resolution two years later with a theological report on women and military service that is excellent. It concluded that the, “cumulative weight of the Bible passages and principles discussed above can legitimately be read by Christians to the effect that it is not in keeping with God’s created design, intention and will for women to be employed in military combat or to be compelled to serve in the military in any capacity.” The report also includes sections on the conscience and practical considerations, and suggests that women registering for selective service as conscientious objectors, as currently allowed by U.S. law, is the wisest option for LCMS congregations…
Last year, I was horrified at the reports that protestors and parishioners had been gassed by police so that President Trump could have a photo-op in front of St. John’s Church. Well, an internal investigation under the Biden administration has turned up that the police had cleared people from the area for unrelated reasons, and then President Trump arrived for the photo-op. I still think the photo-op itself and the unrelated, indiscriminate gassing of parishioners and clergy was bad, but my characterization of President Trump’s actions was premised upon a falsehood.
The defining feature of evangelicalism is disregard for the institutional church.
I was disappointed to see this proven again by “Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden”, particularly with the signatories Richard Mouw and Samuel Logan. This group argues in three paragraphs that Joe Biden’s policies reflect a more biblical, pro-life ethic than Donald Trump’s, abortion notwithstanding and evidence not provided. Citing the parachurch organization, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Pro-Lifers for Biden state, “‘Faithful evangelical civic engagement and witness must champion a biblically balanced agenda.’ Therefore we oppose ‘one issue’ political thinking because it lacks biblical balance.” What are the additional pro-life issues that policies on abortion need to be balanced against? Poverty, healthcare, climate change, racism, and, yes, that pressing issue, smoking.
My concern is not with the political question of the importance of these issues, but the way in which the church has been sidelined by this group in favor of an equalizing idea of “balance.”…
I’ve been thinking through the 1860 presidential election a lot recently.
The background: In 1857 the Supreme Court ruled in the terrible Dred Scott case that the U.S. Constitution did not protect the rights of black people, free or enslaved. It also invalidated the Missouri Compromise as an illegitimate extension of congressional power. The Missouri Compromise had prohibited slavery in the northern U.S., except for Missouri, and was intended to balance the power of slave and free states. Along with the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), this meant each new territory became slave-holding or free based on the votes of that state’s population, which inevitably lead to armed conflicts (notably Bleeding Kansas) between abolitionists and pro-slavery settlers, with abolitionists often winning out. In 1850 the Fugitive Slave Act passed Congress, requiring northern states to return runaway slaves to the south, something abolitionists obviously refused to do. The country was at a breaking point.
So, I’ve been wondering what I would do if I was teleported back to 1860 and able to vote…
“Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.”
-Westminster Confession of Faith 31.4
It continues to astound me how often P&R churches completely disregard this and believe that it is right and proper for the church to comment on every political issue. I’m looking at you, PC(U.S.A.) and WRC.