Friday, November 23, 2012

Show Some Love for Hobby Lobby

Hopefully, you're already familiar with it.

Hobby Lobby's legal battle to protect their religious rights.

Recently, the craft retailer lost its first round in court to be excluded from having to provide contraceptive coverage in its revised employer-sponsored healthcare plan.  Obamacare now requires that beginning this coming January 1, companies providing healthcare plans for their employees must include a wide range of contraceptive options, including sterilization, intrauterine devices, and a relatively recent drug called Ella, which some suspect of acting as an abortifacient.  The president's healthcare mandate says employers should be responsible for the sexual activity of their female employees.

As you can probably tell, I strongly disagree with the president's position on this issue.  I disagree with most of Obamacare, but his program's intentional undermining of religious rights through its subtle endorsement of sexual promiscuity poses a staggering threshold of unconstitutional interference with Christian practice that is unprecedented in this country.  That's why I hope you're already aware of Hobby Lobby's fight.  Because it isn't just their fight.  It's ours.

Obviously, this mandate represents a pivotal success for advocates from a broad coalition of social liberals.  What's not so obvious, however, is the complicity of conservative adherents within evangelicalism, where opinions differ on the legitimacy of most types of birth control.  Some Christians adamantly oppose any tampering with the biological process of human reproduction, believing that any sexual intimacy should be conducted with the full realization of what its consequences could be.  After all, like I often joke when somebody tells me they're expecting, "we know what causes that now."

Then there are the evangelicals who view sexual activity with more than a procreative mindset.  They argue - correctly - that sex doesn't serve solely a reproductive function, but it also serves as a bonding mechanism between husband and wife, as well as, yes, a key source of pleasure within marriage.  Being a wise spouse means using available tools appropriately for the mutual satisfaction of both husband and wife, they say, and the science between how and what conventional contraceptives do what they do is just fuzzy enough to exclude it from the cloak of sinful behavior.

And for the record, contrary to what some Obamacare foes assert, the heinous "morning-after" pill, RU-486, is not currently on the government's list of contraceptive options to be covered under Obamacare.  That's not to say, however, that at some point in the future, RU-486 won't be added to their list.  Considering the draconian aspects of much of this new healthcare legislation, though, it might not be too early to start worrying about that possibility.

Suffice it to say, the debate within evangelicalism over contraception isn't going away anytime soon.  And yes, one reason for that involves the unfortunate reality that churched Americans participate in risky sexual behavior at rates which almost mirror those among the unchurched.  But this debate is certainly coming into sharper focus in terms of a Christian employer's obligation to provide healthcare coverage for such controversial practices.  Whether you're pro-contraception or anti-contraception, you should still be opposed to our government forcing evangelicals who own the company for which you work to pay for something they morally oppose.

It has been troubling to see that conservatives prefer debating, for example, the lengths to which the Republican Party needs to water-down its stance against illegal immigration over this far more pressing "conscientious objector" issue looming along with the Fiscal Cliff this coming New Year's Day.  Perhaps that's because contraceptive use among Republicans has become so commonplace that having a company like Hobby Lobby complaining about it seems more quaint than compelling.  It's not like Hobby Lobby is a Fortune 100 company.  They close their stores on Sundays, for pete's sake!  How antiquated a business model is that?

Nevertheless, don't we shrug our shoulders towards Hobby Lobby's protest at our own peril?  The slippery slope towards national decay benefits profusely when religious freedoms are compromised.  Cleverly enough, our current administration has chosen sex as its opening salvo into religious deconstructivism, which unfortunately, plays into the sophomoric bi-polarity many evangelicals display towards sex.  We like to play morality cards, pretending we're immune to sex's sins, but we guffaw like teenagers at the rampant sexuality in which our society is swimming.  How else do you think the FOX network can carry both right-wing political news and raunchy prime time comedies?

Slippery slopes like this don't necessary need much lubrication, and if you're having to pull your mind out of the gutter over this terminology, then haven't I've just proven how sex-saturated our society is?  Instead of being vigilant against compromising God's gift of sex, might we have become complicit in making sex - and our society's need to staunch its results - so prolific and ubiquitous in our world?  Sure, many conservatives say people need to be responsible for their own actions, but what actions might we not have been responsible in mitigating if our government soon is able to tell evangelical business owners to pay for their employees' contraceptives?

Perhaps the extent to which we view Hobby Lobby's lawsuit with a calloused - instead of burdened - eye reflects the extent to which we've been content to let the world define sexuality, instead of God.  And I'm speaking as much to myself as any of you, my readers.

If this can serve as a wake-up call and help jar us evangelicals out of our complacency, then let's pray for God to grant Hobby Lobby favor in our courts.

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