Draft Dodging morality

Ok, so if you were drafted into military service and you knew that the war you were going to be shipped off to fight would be an unjust war. Would it be better to go fighting possibly killing innocent civilians or running away and possibly never see your loved ones or homeland ever again.
Also here are the precedent of just war:
*]First, war must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for self-gain (for example, “in the nation’s interest” is not just) or as an exercise of power.
*]Second, just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such as the state.
*]Third, peace must be a central motive even in the midst of violence

Depending on the war in question (and the state in question) it might be moral to not only avoid serving, but to enter into active opposition.

The Israelites taking the promised land in Joshua’s day, was for self gain, are you going to say that it was unjust?

Hitler was a properly instituted authority in charge of the state.

Those who seek peace are the ones who lack peace, and must come into agreement with the one who has the power to offer peace to the peace seeker. And violence begets violence.

There were three reasons mentioned. Authority was only one reason. Hitler failed in the first and third requirement.

I would say that it might be moral, might not. The Catechism makes it clear that an allowance must be made for objection by people of peace, even if it is to serve in some noncombat area. If there was no such provision, or if the objection was to a specific war and not war in general, I think there is less room for moral dissent.

As to Joshua, I’d have to say that if a nation were led into war through Divine prophecy, we would have to rethink our positions on war. There are no prophets anymore.


Well given my past threads about the issue I would refuse to serve UNLESS women are included in the draft in the same capacity as men. I cannot in good conscience send a man off to war while telling a woman to stay safe at home. That is like saying one life is more valuable than another. Saying it is OK for some to die and not others is God’s business, not mine. Either everyone gets a shot at getting shot or no one does!

Firstly, the just war conditions are those listed in the Catechism. Second, the answer is yes, if you were going to be forced to fight in an unjust war you could morally flee the country. Of course you could also stay and be imprisoned for your refusal to fight. The one thing you could not do would be to fight in an unjust war.

There is another alternative: one could accept the duty to serve without having to kill - medical services, for example.

Render unto Caesar…

Our pope emeritus deserted in WWII. :twocents:

While that would work if the war was mutually unjust, if the other side was justified then the morality of such an action would be questionable.

Well that pretty much answers the question. (It should be clarified that he deserted the German army)

You left out a critical operative part of the Just War doctrine:

2309…The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

so its not your or my judgment that counts…we have a responsibility to serve if called…but always to follow our–properly formed-- conscience…but that conscience must also be formed with the above part of the doctrine…and the following truths also:

2310 Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.

Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.107

2311 **Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms; these are nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other way.**108

For me…the greatest injustice is the “all volunteer” aspect of our military service in wartime…I believe that it (all volunteer service) is okay in during times of peace…but “all volunteer service” is terribly unjust in times of war…lethally unjust…and can lead to easier “prudential decisions” by a President and the Congress to go to war.

Pax Christi

One is obliged to do that which is right. By your reasoning the German soldiers who fought for Hitler and murdered Jews weren’t sinning.

The first part is correct, the second is not. German soldiers did not sin by being in the Nazi military. Those that committed the deliberate killing of unarmed civilians for the purpose of killing those civilians, did.

And there where three points proposed to the OP.

If what is in the catechism is so clear then why don’t Catholics understand so clearly?

Moral decent is only moral if a party in the agreement, seeks to use the agreement to get the other party to do what was not agreed to do. In this case Gov. And its people.

I am fairly certain that I do. Note that the Catechism does not say that an exception must be made for those that do not agree with the justice of a particular war. Rather, and exception needs to be made for those who for reason of conscience refuse to bear arms, or true pacifist.

What about those who simply destroyed the opposing military forces, leaving the way open for future subjugation and killing of civilians? e.g. Poland 1939.

But that provision, such as pacifist, isn’t provided in the conditions by which a Israelite might be excused from combat, does it? And if the Lord’s provision for exceptions for his people in the case of combat aren’t sufficient in the eye’s of the church, then how can the church be wiser then the Lord Himself?

Because we are not in Biblical Israel. None of our modern national states are led by divine prophecy.

Divine prophecy was infallible; there could be no loopholes for not obeying. National administrations are not infallible, but the Church is.


If my government’s policies are moral, I will willingly risk my life supporting those policies. If my government’s policies are immoral I will actively resist those policies. Patriotism never enters the equation. Should I support my country’s immoral policies? Does that make me a patriot?

Legality is not in the same catagory as morality (occasionally they overlap ). For example, draft dodging in the context of WW2 is cowardice*. Dodging the draft during a stupid war (for example Vietnam) is OK,if done for noble reasons and not just a fear of death.

  • However, if the conciensus objector of WW2 did not know that Hitler was evil (really stupid) he would not be a coward.
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