The Contraception Mandate and A Woman's Voice
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
~ Amendment 1 to The Constitution of the United States
On February 16, a congressional hearing was held in which Southwestern Seminary professor Craig Mitchell testified regarding the Obama administration’s mandate that all health insurance plans must fully cover contraceptives, even those that operate as an abortifacient. The hearing launched a firestorm of criticism by those supporting this mandate. From a cry for more women to speak up to accusations of downplaying women’s health in the name of religion, battle lines seem to be drawn.
Since then, the House Judiciary Committee appeared to attempt to placate the criticism of women not being heard by holding a second hearing on February 28. [i] Planned Parenthood continues to tout this as purely a women’s health issue since “every woman uses birth control.”[ii] Even NBC’s Saturday Night Live has jumped on the bandwagon by dedicating a “Really?!?”sketch to the birth control debate , a segment filled with satire on the conservative position.
Yet, American evangelicals continue to hold that the birth control mandate and subsequent exception made is nothing more than a trigger point that violates one’s First Amendment right of religious freedom.
For the Christian woman, there is an overarching question that must be answered – one that goes beyond the question of birth control, health care, or even women’s rights. Jesus declared that we are to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17)
But, what is one to do when “Caesar” demands, either directly or indirectly, that which rightly belongs to God?
“Where are the women?” That has been the cry of foul by those supporting this mandate. However, even when women have spoken, it has been more of an emotional, anecdotal viewpoint, than a clear statement of beliefs.
As true biblical women, we’re to be ready in season and out of season to declare God’s truth (2 Tim 4:2). An evangelical woman’s voice can give a logical answer to the critics in the midst of this important battle and it starts with understanding what is at stake . . . REALLY!
“This is an attack on women’s health not on religious freedom.” . . . REALLY!?
The free availability of all forms of birth control is not what is primarily at stake here. If it truly was about women’s health, then we would be discussing the health of the unborn female, how to pay for fertility treatments and reimbursement of adoption costs. It is not a health issue to make available medicines and devices that altar what a woman’s body was naturally created to do.
What is at stake is being federally mandated to compromise our beliefs. To illustrate, let me take this to one logical conclusion: I believe that we are all created in the image of God (Gen 1:28) and this begins at conception (not at implantation). I believe that if I love God, I must keep His commands (Jn 14:15), one of which is “Do not murder” (Ex 20:13) and providing protection for those who are most vulnerable. Certain birth control methods, especially the category of emergency contraception (i.e. Plan B, Ella and IUD devices), have a primary abortive effect, meaning that they prevent an embryo from surviving in the womb by “flushing it out” of a uterus Therefore, mandating that I, as an employer, provide this birth control option is ordering me to violate my religious belief and prevents me from the free exercise of religion as protected by the First Amendment.
Birth control is not the issue. It is a trigger point for something bigger.
Regardless of your view on birth control, personhood, or even religion, this should sound a warning bell that if one government mandate can compromise a fundamental constitutional right this easily, then it can happen in other arenas as well.
“This is not a line in the sand issue”. . . REALLY?!?
The constant rhetoric by supporters of the birth control mandate has become a distraction from the primary issue. Even the “accommodation” offered by the Obama administration that insurance companies will be the direct providers rather than Christian institutions, is just a way to help some feel better about doing what they know is against their conscience.
If we truly proclaim the value of all human life, both born and unborn, as image bearers of God and then we compromise on this issue, we may very well find ourselves crossing what was once a clear line in the sand.
During the first congressional hearing, Union University professor C. Ben Mitchell reminded us of the eternal ramifications by quoting John Leland, a Baptist minister who helped frame the wording of the First Amendment. “Every man must give an account of himself to God and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in a way that he can best reconcile to his conscience. If government can answer in religious matters for individuals on the Day of Judgment let men be controlled by government. Otherwise, let men be free.”
With the line drawn in the sand, are we willing to pay the price to hold the line?
Daniel drew his line in the sand to not worship an earthly king and found himself in a lion’s den (Dan 1). Stephen drew his line in the sand by boldly declaring his faith and paid with his life (Acts 7). Perpetua drew her line in the sand by calling herself Christian and kissed her baby goodbye as she was escorted into the arena to be mauled by wild beasts.[iii] And today, we pray for Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarktiani who has drawn a line in the stand in order to profess Christ and continues to stand on the sure foundation of his Christian faith in the midst of persecution.
A woman’s voice can be heard. Use your voice at the throne of God by praying for President Obama, his administration and our elected officials (1 Tim 2:1-2). They have a difficult job and need the wisdom of God to lead our nation in the way it should be lead.
A woman’s voice can be heard. Use your voice to humbly make your view known to your elected officials.[iv] (Click here to look up your U.S. Senators’ and Representatives’ contact information.) Educate yourself on the issues and be willing to give a reasoned answer.
A woman’s voice can be heard. Use your voice to continually share God’s message of hope and salvation with a world that needs to hear it. In the end, that is what is truly at stake . . . . REALLY!
[i] A video archive of the House Judiciary Committee may be accessed at http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/calendar.html
[ii] See interview with Planned Parenthood President, Cecile Richards. http://www.wfaa.com/news/politics/Planned-Parenthood-leader-says-Komen-relationship-restored-139483103.html
[iii] Severance, Diana. Feminine Threads
[iv] Information about contacting your U.S. Senator or Representative may be found at http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml