Disclaimer: This is NOT a post about:
- when life begins
- whether contraception causes abortion
- whether Roe vs. Wade should be overturned
- Pro-choice vs. Pro-life
So there is a lot of hubbub out there right now about Hobby Lobby and their suit against the Federal Government over Obamacare. Their basic concern, and the concern of many Christian business owners is that Obamacare is causing them “to violate their deeply held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines, penalties and lawsuits” by requiring them to provide insurance that covers abortions, contraception and the morning after pill. They contend that it violates their conscience to provide such coverage because they morally oppose the use of such medications and procedures. It is my contention, however, that Hobby Lobby — and companies like them — can and should comply with the new law without any hesitation. It is also my contention that they can rest easy knowing that God does not lay (what they consider to be) the sins of others at their feet.
Requiring Christian-owned businesses to provide health insurance which covers contraception is not, honestly, that big of a deal, simply because it effectively changes nothing. Companies such as Hobby Lobby already pay people money that some of those people then use to pay for contraceptives/abortion themselves. Should Hobby Lobby be allowed to fire all those people? Of course not. Hobby Lobby is no more or less responsible for the use of said contraceptives either way. Once the money leaves their hands in the form of a paycheck or insurance premium the use of the money is no longer their responsibility. Some companies argue that under Obama care, they know that their money will be used to pay for abortions. Here are the facts.
#1. Every state must offer at least one plan that does not cover abortion so that there is an option for individuals who do not want this coverage.
#2 You will not have to pay for other people’s abortions unless you have opted to have this coverage for yourself.
In her article from earlier this year, Laura Bassett summed it up this way:
In fact, the policy does not require anyone who does not want abortion coverage to pay for it. Under the law, states have to offer at least one health plan on their insurance exchanges that doesn’t cover abortion services at all. If a state decides it does want to have health plans that cover abortion services on its exchange, and if a woman chooses one of those plans, then she has to pay a separate fee of at least $1 to a separate account for that coverage in order to make sure no federal dollars are used to support abortion services.
For people who opt into a health plan that covers abortion, the Affordable Care Act requires that health plans “provide a notice to enrollees” at the time of enrollment that their plan includes the surcharge, but those plans are not allowed to advertise the specific surcharge.
In short, the employees are given their choice of plans at least one of which will not include abortion coverage.
Now I realize that if even one woman they employ chooses that coverage and then has an abortion, some of their money will go to paying for it. But think of it this way; if I hire you to clean out my garage and then you use that money for an abortion, it is exactly the same. The health care law requires employers to provide an insurance option that covers abortion and contraception. It does not require employers to pass out morning after pills or write checks to abortion clinics. The employee is still making the choice, not the employer.
Listen, I am not pro-abortion. I think it should be as rare as possible. But to argue that I am then morally responsible for your choices off the clock simply because I provide you a paycheck or help pay for your insurance is insane. I guarantee you Hobby Lobby has paid people who have used their money to sin in all kinds of ways. I do not hold them responsible for that. They cannot, nor should they be able to, tell people how they can or cannot spend their paychecks. Unless of course they are breaking the law.
A well-meaning friend said to me today that it is a free country and the people don’t have to work there. They can just go somewhere else where that coverage is offered. Really? So now people have to know all about the owners of a company before they take a job? They need to find someone they agree with on all moral and spiritual accounts before they can work somewhere? That is like expecting an employer to know everything about a person before hiring them. This is a free country, we embrace freedom of religion when it comes to personal practice. What we do not allow is one person’s freedom of religion to trump the rights of others. If you want to do business in the United States, there are all kinds of things you may consider sinful that you cannot use to discriminate against someone when considering them for a job. For example we don’t allow companies to ask if people have already had an abortion, whether they are living with their boyfriend/girlfriend or are gay. I guarantee you that people who already work for Hobby Lobby are and have done all these things. People in fact spend their paychecks from Hobby Lobby in support of those choices.
Sadly, I think most people are just more comfortable with people who sin in the same ways they do or just keep it to themselves.
Here is the bottom line: The owners of Hobby Lobby should comply and then go to bed with a clear conscience. The individual using the contraceptives or getting the abortion or living with their boyfriend or doing drugs with the money you pay them was doing it yesterday and will do it again tomorrow. Obamacare does nothing to change that or make you pay for more of that (in fact it may be that less of an employer’s money goes to abortion since the insurance will pay a portion rather than 100% of it coming from that person’s paycheck). A company has no control (nor should they) over the private acts of an individual – and that is a good thing. God does not hold us responsible for the sins of others.
Consider this? What if the owners were Jehovah’s Witnesses (which don’t believe in getting blood transfusions) and they decide to remove the coverage for blood transfusions from their insurance policies. Would you be okay with that? What if they were Christian Science? They do not believe in much medical intervention at all. Should they be required to provide insurance for their employees? You see, when taken to its logical conclusion, it falls apart. The only truly fair way to handle this is to let each individual choose for themselves and Christians should be okay with that. After all Romans 12:10-12 says:
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
My point is that by providing the mandated insurance options ,Hobby Lobby does not need to feel their conscience is being violated. They are not controlling whether or not these people have these procedures either way. The individuals involved are controlling their own behavior. The owner’s consciences should remain clear. Their money (in the form of people’s paychecks) is already being spent donating to pro choice causes, Democrat candidates and Planned Parenthood, not to being spent on drugs, alcohol, abortion, porn and any number of other things they may not agree with. It is the nature of commerce in a free society.
Another friend asserted today that we should afford rights to people as long as they didn’t contradict the Bible. Wow! Here is the problem. Turning the Bible into American Law is a BAD idea. Even if you are a very conservative Christian this should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Exactly whose version of the Bible do we follow? The Southern Baptist Convention’s? Brian McLaren’s? Pat Robertson’s? Mark Driscoll’s? Heavens to Betsy! Let’s think this through!
I am a follower of Jesus and I want my country to afford and protect my right to worship as I see fit. I DO NOT want to live in a theocracy until Jesus is the one leading it, even if my personal beliefs were respected. Even if you, my lovelies, got to write up the laws based on your understanding of who God is and what he wants, eventually someone else rises to power and next thing you know all the women are not allowed to go to school and are forced to wear burqas. Afghanistan springs to mind. The beauty of the United States is that the same Constitution that guarantees my Muslim neighbor, my atheist neighbor, my Israeli neighbor, my gay neighbor and my Mormon neighbor their rights to believe and practice ensures my right to do the same. As soon as I begin removing or denying their rights it is only a matter of time before mine are next.
If you do follow Jesus as I do, we can look to him for how best to handle this situation. In Matthew 22:15-22 it says:
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
During this period of history the Jews were occupied by the Romans. There were many Jews who thought the Messiah would come in and overthrow the government. By all accounts the Roman Empire was not known for being kind and benevolent. In fact, quite the opposite. They were most likely spending the money that the Jews paid them in tribute to perpetuate all kinds of things the Jewish people disagreed with. Did Jesus blame them for the sins of the Romans since the money they provided was used for things they didn’t allow? Did he say, “Refuse to pay Caesar what he requires? In fact, sue him. Our money shouldn’t be used for such things!”? No, actually, he didn’t. Did he ever say anything to the political leaders of the Roman Empire about how they spent the money? Nope. Not a word in the scriptures about that. Jesus reserved his words about money and how to spend it for the people who claimed to follow God. And here, where he could have said stop paying the tribute and use that money for something else, he instead says, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”
We can also look at the scriptures and see that God never forces us or manipulates us or bans us from making poor choices. (For the record I don’t see birth control as a poor choice, and I think any situation where an abortion is chosen or necessary is tragic, but there are many for which any abortion or contraception is seen as sin). He also never forces us to choose him and he doesn’t strike dead those who don’t. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. God’s mercies are new everyday.
I think we can draw from these passages that Jesus is more concerned with the hearts of the owners of Hobby Lobby who say they follow him than he is about the money they essentially pay as a tax to provide healthcare.
9 thoughts on “Why Christian Companies’ Corporate Conscience Should be Clear”
There is a difference between knowingly enabling a sin and unknowingly enabling one – the two cases are not the same. You can argue that intent is what *really* matters and that the intent to enable sin is absent in both cases, ergo no worries Hobby Lobby. But there is still a meaningful distinction between knowingly enabling a sin and unknowingly enabling one. And that distinction is this – the first troubles the conscience and the second doesn’t. Conscience is as much intuitive as it is rational, and as a society we really ought to pause before forcing anyone to violate their conscience – even if this causes some difficulties.
Above you also say “This is a free country, we embrace freedom of religion when it comes to personal practice. What we do not allow is one person’s freedom of religion to trump the rights of others.” Legally speaking, this is not the case. We have a constitutionally enshrined freedom of religion. There is no similar legal right to contraception or healthcare. Whether there should be or not is a separate issue. But right now, my freedom of religion does trump others’ rights to healthcare/contraception.
What we really need to do is divorce health coverage from employment – that avoids the whole difficulty above (and probably improves the healthcare marketplace and coverage offerings too) – happy to see this in the context of a scheme for universal health coverage.
Oh, and re the Jehovah’s Witness example, yes, I don’t think they should be required to cover blood transfusions. If I worked for them, this would be a real difficulty. But conscience – the expression of our highest self – does and should trump health. I would respect that.
Actually, there is a legally enshrined right to freedom to choose contraception. That was decided in the case of Griswold vs. Connecticut. As for the right to contraception, that is a part of covering all Americans under health care. Any other westernized nation already does this.
You should realize that your rights should not trump the rights of others. As the old adage goes, your right to swing your arms around ends at my nose. Do you have a right to swing your arms about? Absolutely, provided no one gets hurt in the process and when someone does, it becomes assault because of the other person’s right not to be assaulted.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the blood transfusion thing is a matter of conscience. Your personal conscience should not trump the rights of others.
I think the larger issue here is that Hobby Lobby doesn’t purchase their health insurance from an insurance company; they are self-insurers, meaning they pay for the medical services their employees use DIRECTLY.
Thanks for the pingback!
Both this issue and homosexual rights, are extend from The Civil rights Act of 1964; and until that is dismantled; there will be no end.
I wish. Unfortunately, the fight for equal rights still goes on and I look forward to the day that my girlfriend and I can marry.
Those who are pro-life see Viagra as being pro-life and birth control as being pro-choice.