When the Department of Health and Human Services mandated that groups that provide insurance must cover contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs, I really did not panic. Such an overreach, so absurd, such an unconstitutional slap at religious freedom -- I knew it could not stand. When the Obama Administration refused to back down, I felt cold inside. That the Administration could look at a religion like Roman Catholicsm -- which has been around for hundreds of years longer than the United States has -- and say, "You must pay for things that you consider to be sin" was so absurd that I felt like we had turned a very, very dark corner.
I alternated between fear, anger, and despair. Nothing that has happened in our government in my lifetime has affected me like this one thing. Because when I think of who I am, the first thing I grab onto is that I am a child of God, a Christian, a believer. The idea that the government of my country might try to force me to commit what I believe to be sin is surreal. Except that it's not -- it's very real.
Sure, I don't agree with the Catholic church on this issue. But that is not the point. The next mandate may very well be something that goes against MY faith. When people do not hold strong views of faith -- like most (if not all) those in the present Administration -- they don't realize what attacking an article of faith can mean. People DIE for their faith -- they start wars, they start countries, for crying out loud. They started OUR country.
No matter what you believe you cannot, must not, sit by and allow this to go unnoticed. I'd like to share an email that my pastor sent out today.
2 April, 2012
Dear saints of God at MPC,
I pray that God is sustaining you, supplying every need, and sanctifying you through your sufferings and using them for His glory!
One of the most difficult balances we attempt to achieve in the Church is to live in this world yet not be of it. We who follow Christ are citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom, this world is not our home, we are aliens and strangers and the stranger the better, so to speak. We witness best by being “weird” (in the eyes of the unregenerate).
Part of the struggle with balance is the need to speak to the political realm, while not believing that our primary duty is to build civil governments. We have lost that balance at times in our churches. We have confused Christianity with conservative politics. Biblical principles should inform our politics but our primary passion and efforts should not be in building and promoting a certain political perspective, but in promoting the gospel and building the Church. That being said, we are keenly interested in political matters for two related reasons: Christ is Lord of all things, including the civil magistrate; and we long for a properly limited and confined governmental structure so that we can live according to the dictates of the Word of God without fear of oppression and persecution. Such a freedom has been rare for believers throughout the centuries. The USA has been a God-given blessing to the whole world because of her biblically-inspired heritage of limited government that afforded Christians such fearlessness in faith. It is that which is being threatened today by some currently in elected and appointed positions within the civil magistrate and it is that about which I am writing you.
You’ve surely seen the news regarding what’s been termed the contraceptive issue which has stemmed from an unconstitutional overreach, by some who are in positions of authority, mandating that all employers provide contraception coverage in their insurance plans. The very fact of the government mandating any type of insurance is appalling by itself. But the most offensive element of this is the attempt to force Roman Catholic institutions, who believe that attempts to prevent pregnancy in marriage is a sin, to comply with this constitution-shredding requirement. The issue is not about the availability and affordability of various contraceptive options. It is ultimately about an attempt by the government to force an established religious order to violate their conscience in order to comply with the government’s view of what is right. If they do not comply they are threatened with crippling penalties.
Do not buy the media spin that it’s about contraceptives. It’s about conscience and about a commitment to follow what one believes are the commands of God without fear of consequences from civil authorities. John Willson writes, “…an American evangelical tradition going back to Roger Williams insisted that the ‘Garden of Christianity’ was safe from the corruption of the ‘Wilderness of the World’ only if governments could be held at bay and Christian consciences allowed to flourish.”
Make no mistake; this attack on that area is intentional for two reasons: for one it is an attempt to divide the sometimes politically united house of the broader “Christian” community. Those imposing this mandate know that we Protestants do not agree with the Roman Catholics on the issues of contraception (among other issues) so they are hoping that we will let it slide with the thinking that it doesn’t directly affect us. That thinking would be wrong. If this conscience trampling is allowed to stand, guess where they’ll turn next? Secondly, those on the far left side of the political spectrum, particularly those who have openly rejected and expressed disdain for Christianity, attack the area of pregnancy because childbirth is a vital part of the Christian faith. After “the fall” God promised to save mankind through childbirth. Eve was called “life” by her husband. Christ came via the woman bearing a Child. The intentional killing of infants has been a part of the most vile and reprobate religions for eons and the viciousness with which all who oppose abortion and abortion providers are attacked shows how precious the killing of children, the limiting of the number of children, is to many people. The “right” to prevent and terminate pregnancy, to engage in unrestrained sexual indulgence without the cost or consequences of carrying a child, is an effort very much in keeping with a godless and violent worldview.
I am writing to ask you to do three things: First, be vocal and express your outrage at this infuriating dictate. We must join together to fight this sort of intrusive destruction of the rights of conscience and the freedom of religion or we will be likewise threatened even more than we already are. For the sake of the Church in America and our children, do not quietly acquiesce. Secondly, when you vote this fall you will be forced to choose among imperfect candidates. The likely opposition party candidate for the presidency has been way too “squishy” on the issue of life in times past in my view. That might tempt some to throw up their hands in frustration and stay home or do something else to protest. However, there is a clear cut difference between the major candidates and parties in their stated views on abortion. I believe that we must be vigorous in opposing those that have stated and demonstrated support for this destructive practice and who have indicated that they do not respect the consciences and convictions of Christians. Respect for conscience and respect for life are fundamental issues that are under attack by many elected and appointed officials. I would encourage you to let your voice be heard and your vote be counted in support of life and religious freedom. We must vote to remove those who will not remove support from the abortion industry. It is no exaggeration to say that our nation’s free future very much depends upon our taking up the fight now. Most importantly, let’s do as we have been instructed in God’s Word: Pray for our leaders that God might thwart evil designs and change rebellious minds. We must humbly entreat God to be merciful to His people and children. Let’s be like our forefathers and show a willingness to enter the fray for the next generations. Let’s enter it on our knees and with our words before God and men!
May our God help us and show us His mercies,