suing the government

The many lawsuits against the HHS mandate may be overrun by current events. Now that hundreds of thousands of people are learning that, despite the President’s frequent assurances, they are not allowed to keep the affordable insurance policies they currently have, the Affordable Care Act may collapse of its own weight. Perhaps Nancy Pelosi should have read the bill before she pressured her colleagues to pass it.

In the meantime, Cornerstone University’s lawsuit, along with Wheaton’s, Notre Dame’s, Hobby Lobby’s, et. al., will continue to make their way through the courts. The student newspaper here asked me to write an essay on our lawsuit, and I thought it may be helpful to run the draft by you first. I did a little research with the time I had, and I believe my facts are correct. But if you see anything that needs changed, I have until tomorrow to turn it in. It starts now.

I understand the government’s position. I really do. It wants to guarantee that all people have health care, which would logically include contraception. If health plans cover Viagra for men, then why not birth control for women?

But there are three problems:

1. America’s present hodgepodge of health insurance combines both public and private sources, with the awkward result that the government mandates what coverage private employers must provide. The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) states employers must pay for all forms of contraception that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that:

2. Some of these birth control drugs induce abortions. The “morning after pill,” marketed by such telling names as Plan B One-Step and Next Choice, may stop the ovaries from releasing an egg or sperm from uniting with it, but they may also keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Since a fertilized egg is the start of a unique human life, we who believe in the sanctity of human life cannot support its elimination.

3. So when the government requires us to provide these abortion-inducing drugs, it demands that we violate our conscience. And not on a small matter, but on the valuing and protecting of life that is uniquely made in the image of God. The government acknowledged it understands the gravity of this issue when it allowed a religious exception for churches and other houses of worship. But why should it think that Cornerstone’s values differ from the churches that support and send us their students? Why would it be wrong for a church to violate its conscience but not Cornerstone?

The government suggested a compromise. Employers won’t have to pay for these abortifacients as long as their insurance companies do. But where do the insurance companies get this money? From us. They are just the middlemen. If you ask if I stole your bike and I say No, I simply paid Tom to do it, there is a good chance you are still going to blame me. Likewise, we shouldn’t think God would let us off the hook because we paid someone else to violate our conscience.

Obamacare’s mandate may strike some as an esoteric hill to die on, especially since none of us have met, or even seen, a fertilized egg. After all, aren’t infertility centers full of fertilized eggs, put there by Christians to maximize their chances at in vitro fertilization? Yes, and Christians who support fertilizing eggs that will not be implanted have no moral authority to oppose this government mandate. Nevertheless, this mandate is merely round one between the government and religious institutions. It may not be long until the government attempts to prohibit institutions such as Cornerstone from terminating those who commit homosexual acts.

Even here I understand the government’s position. I really do. We do not wish to discriminate against anyone, and we gladly defend the human rights of homosexuals to equal housing, work, and so on. But our Cornerstone Confession states that Adam and Eve’s “union as man and woman models God’s design for marriage and perpetually stands as God’s loving and righteous will for all sexual intimacy.” We would violate our conscience if we ignored God’s clearly revealed will for sex and marriage. But if the government successfully rolls us on the issue of abortifacients, does anyone doubt it won’t soon enough require us to violate our conscience on homosexual practice?

I understand the government’s position. I really do. But does it understand mine?

12 Comments

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  1. I understand that “terminating those who commit homosexual acts” isn’t quite the same thing as terminating a pregnancy, but you may want to change that word as it has a well established and very different meaning within the context of abortion. Otherwise, this is very clear.

  2. Good catch, Josh. I changed it to “dismissing employees.” I’m trying to avoid the term “fire,” because it seems rather callous.

  3. Your second to last paragraph could use some work. The main objection you bring up is that this issue may be esoteric. You strengthen the objection by giving an example of Christians who have acted foolishly/sinfully on this issue. You concede in response to the example that those Christians have no moral authority here (correctly implying that others can and do have the moral authority). Then you answer the main objection by saying this mandate is “merely round one” and that the government may soon attempt to prohibit other godly bans (i.e. bans on homosexual behavior). You answer the example well, but not the main objection. If bigger fights are coming, why waste our strength on this one? There are compelling reasons to die on this hill, but a probable future ruling on a separate issue is not the best one. I know the issues both involve government intrusion into the lives of Christians, but that does not mean this correctly answers the objection.

  4. Thanks for this analysis. As I look at it, I was raising an objection that some might have (this isn’t mine. I stated earlier that I have moral objections to the mandate). I’m simply telling these people that if they don’t take a stand here, they likely will be ruled down the next time the government issues a mandate. The precedent will have been set. So actually the argument continues into the next paragraph. I interrupted it to say that I understood why the government would do this (trying to tie in my repeated phrase, which ends with a twist)

  5. I also want to thank Dave C. who noted offline that my essay makes it sound like homosexual practice is worse than abortion. I didn’t intend to say that, but I can see how it can easily be read that way. Here’s how I changed the last line of the last full paragraph:

    “But if the government successfully rolls us on the life and death issue of abortifacients, does anyone doubt it won’t soon enough require us to violate our conscience on the lesser sin of homosexual practice?”

  6. Jonathan Shelley October 29, 2013 — 7:49 pm

    Mike, I don’t think it’s necessary or helpful to refer to homosexual practice as a “lesser sin” since that invites a discussion on the gradation of sins. Instead, perhaps you could end that line with “violate our conscience on other sinful practices, such as homosexual behavior.” or something along those lines.

    That being said, I agree with jackiemary that introducing homosexuality seems to be a red herring. I understand the point you are making, and it is a valid point, but I think your illustration overshadows the argument. I think the point can be more clearly made by continuing the metaphor of defending our hill. You could change the last sentence to, “Once we start to give ground, we lose our initiative and it is immeasurably more difficult to reclaim ground rather than to defend it.” You could then go into the next paragraph by returning to the idea that the government has good and admirable intentions – to ensure equal health care – and that is why it makes this fight all the more important. It is easy to fight against obvious evil, but when the sin is wrapped in the guise of virtue it is more difficult to stand and fight. Perhaps, “The fight isn’t about whether abortifacts are sinful – such evil is obvious to believers – but the proponents of ACA are trying to make the fight over which is more virtous: the sanctity of life or the appearance of equality. Even here I understand the government’s position. I really do. We do not wish to discriminate against anyone, and we gladly defend the universal human rights of equal housing, work, and so on. These social virtues are meant to be in harmony with biblical teachings, but when tensions arise we must decide whether our alligence is to God or social expectations. We cannot afford to set a precedence of compromise. If the government successfully rolls us on the issue of abortifacts, does anyone doubt it won’t soon force us to violate our conscience on other sinful practices, such as homosexual behavior, drug abuse, or legalized prostitution?”

  7. Jonathan: Good points. But will anyone argue that homosexual practice is worse than murder? Or are you saying it’s simply a distraction? I think you’re right that I may have been trying to say too much in 600 words, but I wanted to make the point this is not a one time issue but the first of more skirmishes to come. That’s why I threw in the homosexual issue, which if present trends continue, will hit evangelical colleges by Friday. I realize it might cloud the issue, but I’d like to keep it, and I’m at my word limit.

  8. Dear Mr. Wittmer:
    I agree with your position and that of the seminary regarding this issue. Please do not take offense at my blunt assessment of your proposed editorial. I am writing what I believe is true.

    The most important thing to understand about those currently holding power in our federal government is that these people despise traditional values including (and especially) Christian moral values.

    It is utter nonsense to say you understand the government’s position on healthcare. This is so because if you think the government’s position has any validity; you have been already been badly deceived, not realizing their ultimate goals. Ultimately this is not about healthcare and it certainly is not about the government being able to understand your view. This is about real life good versus evil. The forces of evil are amassing power to crush all political, civil, legal opposition.

    The current administration is extremely nefarious and has no shame in its grab for unlimited power over citizens’ lives, including dictating which values are acceptable.

    There is no compelling reason for the government to be involved at all in health care. The results of such programs can be seen in other countries which have had socialized medicine. It is disturbing to me that you can possibly think this current government has good intentions about anything.

    Don’t make excuses for those who promote evil, no matter how clever their cover or disguise. Don’t apologize for your position. You are correct in opposing this evil. Clearly this is sin whether the majority of your fellow citizens see this is so.

    Yes if the government “wins” the lawsuits it can impose more onerous and wicked mandates upon Christians. But even if this administration loses, it may choose to simply ignore the court. It has already set precedent by ignoring law, even our U.S. Constitution.

    If people reject Jesus Christ then they have in fact, rejected Truth…for Jesus is Truth. And if they reject the One who is Truth, do not expect to have a rational discussion or debate with them regarding what is fair, good or moral…or even “legal”. This group only understands power…the use of force and they are intent about acquiring enough of it to crush all who dare disagree with them.

    We must soberly prepare for the worst while praying and hoping for the best. I believe our current president is a disciple of Saul Alinsky. (Research this assertion and draw your own conclusions). If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Alinsky, I have included some quotes form him, below. Clearly America has been deceived. If we do not soon and decisively alter our course as a nation, then we are fast approaching the approximate equivalent of a Bolshevik government. And those who know history also know what the Bolsheviks did to Christians. Before you dismiss these statements, please read the quotes…and if you have not already done so, read history…Bolshevik Revolution (aka Russian Revolution).

    Respectfully Submitted,
    Craig S.

    “Curiosity and irreverence go together. Curiosity cannot exist without the other. Curiosity asks, “Is this true?” “Just because this has always been the way, is the best or right way of life, the best or right religion, political or economic value, morality?” To the questioner, nothing is sacred. He detests dogma, defies any finite definition of morality, rebels against any repression of a free, open search of ideas no matter where they may lead. He is challenging, insulting, agitating, discrediting. He stirs unrest.”
    ― Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

    “Lest we forget at least an over the shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins – or which is which), the very first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.”
    ― Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

    “In the beginning the organizer’s first job is to create the issues or problems.”
    ― Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

    “Those who are most moral are farthest from the problem.”
    ― Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

    “Love and faith are not common companions. More commonly power and fear consort with faith….Power is not to be crossed; one must respect and obey. Power means strength, whereas love is a human frailty the people mistrust. It is a sad fact of life that power and fear are the fountainheads of faith.”
    ― Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

    And finally there is this:
    Alinsky died at the age of 63 of a sudden, massive heart attack in 1972, on a street corner in Carmel, California. Two months previously, he had discussed life after death in his interview with Playboy:
    ALINSKY: … if there is an afterlife, and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell.
    PLAYBOY: Why?
    ALINSKY: Hell would be heaven for me. All my life I’ve been with the have-nots. Over here, if you’re a have-not, you’re short of dough. If you’re a have-not in hell, you’re short of virtue. Once I get into hell, I’ll start organizing the have-nots over there.
    PLAYBOY: Why them?
    ALINSKY: They’re my kind of people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Alinsky

  9. Employers are required to pay an employee even if that employee engages in activities they may consider immoral. The guy who runs the local hardware shop might overhear one of his workers bragging about getting stoned over the weekend, but so long as the employee comes in sober and does their job, he still has to pay the employee.

    A CEO might find out that the vice president has scheduled an abortion. Even tif he CEO is offended by her decision, he still has to pay her and therefore give her money to have the abortion.

    This is the way the world works. You can’t control what people do with their private lives. And we wouldn’t want to live in a society where employers had the power to dictate private decisions. Unless your university has a behavior clause, you can’t fire them for decisions that offend you.

    The AFA works along the same lines. Most large companies (and universities) already have insurance providers that cover birth control. The difference is that the hype about the AFA has just drawn attention to policies that have been in place in insurance plans for decades.

  10. Christian: We do have a behavior clause, but that won’t matter when the government equates opposition to homosexual practice with racism. We already provide birth control to our employees, it’s only the ones that cause abortion that we’re opposed to.

    Craig: I decided to stick with what I could prove and to give the government the benefit of the doubt. I do think everyone should have access to health care and that we shouldn’t discriminate against anyone made in God’s image, so I do agree with them there. I also happen to think that we shouldn’t kill such people, and that’s where I and the government disagree.

  11. What is not covered in anything I have read or heard is: 1) the health exchanges are the places individuals purchase health insurance, 2) the policies available are provided by private, for profit health business, 3) it is not the government that selects the prices rather the companies are the ones setting the prices, and 4) all the Affordable Health Care Act has done is set minimum standards. The problem of cost is coming from the health insurance companies not the government.

    You can be against the ACA for reasons of cost, or any number of things but to single out specific provisions to oppose the act is ingenious at the least. Just because the policy you (or your employer) chooses contains coverage for something you personnaly object to does not mean you have to avail yourself of that specific provision, i.e. birth control or abortion products. You may be in a Christian business (include educational instutions here) and you may not like to have the provision for individuals to have abortion pills available the policy you have to purchase for your business but it still stands that even with the option in the policy, you do not have to avail yourself of it. Neither does the option in the policy lead you to do something you do not want to do (i.e. abort a pregnancy). You control what you will ask the insurance company pay for and if you choose to not have an abortion then you have not lost anything. Please remember the policy and its provisions are for all comers not just your particular institution and its standards. By seeking to stop the ACA via the courts you are asking the whole country to adhear to your standards, both those who agree with you and those who do not.

  12. Thanks for this, Norman. My post wasn’t objecting to the cost of the mandate, though the way the program is set up and the way it is currently not working this may soon be prohibitive. My objection is moral, and it is simply that we believe we would be doing a vile thing if we paid for someone to get an abortion. You are wrong when you say we are attempting to stop other employers from offering abortions or asking the entire country to adhere to our standards. We are saying let them be, and asking them to do the same for us.

    You may not be sympathetic to our concern, but isn’t that the essence of a conscientious objection? Others may not share your view but they know it is wrong to insist that someone violate their conscience, just as they would be upset if someone asked them to violate theirs. Think of something you strongly believe in, and then ask how you would feel if someone told you that you had to pay for someone to violate that very thing. You would probably feel stuck too.

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