Musings on the Hobby Lobby Affair

HobbyLobbyStowOhioSo, as we all know, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Olkahoma based Hobby Lobby in a case involving the affordable care act.  The family owned company sued the government saying that being forced to pay for certain birth control violated their religious freedom.

Before I get to the imbroglio, I wanted to share my own views on this, limited as they might be.  When this suit first went to trial I thought it made sense that Hobby Lobby not be able to drop health care when it violates religious beliefs.  It’s not for any ideological issues, just that if every company could decide to opt for religious reasons, we would have chaos.  However, after learning more about the case, I think that the decision reached was appropriate. It was tailored very narrowly to the issue at hand and Hobby Lobby wasn’t asking to ban all birth control, just 4 out of 20 that were in the view of the Green family (Hobby Lobby’s owners) what has been called abortificients.  I don’t have to agree with the Green family’s view on birth control, but I do see the logic in this case.

So, now that that was done, let’s talk about  how Christians have reacted to this.

One of the critiques against the Progressive Christianity is that it seems to only exist to combat Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christianity.  I don’t think that’s totally true, but it is really close.

Knowing many progressive Christians, I have followed their reactions on this decision and it was all against Hobby Lobby.If you want to know why I tend to have a tenuous relationship with Progressive Christianity, one doesn’t have go any further than the response to the decision.  Progressive Christians are very good in telling everyone that they should live a certain way when following Jesus.  I agree; I just wished they would practice it.

More and more, I’ve come to believe that Progressive Christians really, really hate evangelical Christians.  Any talk of religious liberty by evangelicals has to be nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse to discriminate.  No thought is given to how some Christians might have to go against their consciences.  There never seems to be any thought in some form of pluralism, to allow people with different views to live along side the majority in peace.  No, it seems at the times that I guess I prefer to give the other side the benefit of the doubt.  Yes, there are people who will want to take advantage of kindness and we do need to be vigilant, but do we have to treat the other side with such contempt?

Maybe what bothers so much is that Progressive Christians seem to see faith as nothing more than a hobby, something we do in our spare time from real life.  There is no questioning, especially on religious grounds, about birth control.  No, I am not suggesting that we should be against it, but shouldn’t there be some talk about the wisdom of some forms of birth control and how they do or don’t run counter to our Christian faith?  Hobby Lobby was willing to allow other forms of birth control and refused to support the others because it felt like an abortion which they are against.  So it seems like the conservative Christians we lash out against were more thoughtful and discerning than the Progressive Christians who are supposed to be more mindful. Hobby Lobby wins the right to not cover 4 versions of birth control and it’s treated like we are seeing the beginning of Republic of Gilead.

Moving forward, there will be more clashes. Same sex marriage, abortion and other sexually-related issues will pit religious liberty against sexual rights.  Right now, progressives are treating it like a zero-sum game; we win, they lose.  I think we have to find ways to allow conservatives the freedom to live as they believe without harming my freedom as a gay man.  There is something rather unChristian about forcing people to violate their consciences just because we don’t like their views.

Ross Douthat wrote in a recent op-ed about a company that was given high praise by a liberal think tank for its socially conscious actions.  It’s not Whole Foods or Ben and Jerry’s.  It’s…..Hobby Lobby, the same company that is being demonized this week.  Douthat notes the drive to push faith out of the public square can makes us a less vibrant and just society.  Sometimes the people we don’t agree with can be the ones who save us- if we let them.





Is There a Plan B for Plan B?

120323-planB-hsml-oom-5p.380;380;7;70;0I don’t have kids.  But if I had a daughter and she was say around 12, would I want her to be able buy Plan B without my say-so or even knowledge?

The Obama Administration has decided to offer Plan B, the emergency contraceptive, to women over the age of 15 without a perscription.  All those under 15 have to get a percription.  That goes against a judge who ordered that the drug be made available to all women without a script.

Of course, most women’s groups tend to favor the judge’s ruling.  It’s about the women’s health, the say.

Yeah.  I’m pro-choice and favor comprehensive sex-ed and I even favor giving kids condoms.  But going back to have my hypothetical daughter (I’ll name her Harriet, because I’ve always liked that name).  I don’t know if I want my little girl being able to go to Target and get birth control when they aren’t even able to drive.

It’s not that I can protect a kid from having sex.  I think parents have to do the best they can in telling kids the good and the bad of sex.  But I don’t know if I want to give pretend-Harriet the equivalent of the car keys when she may not even be ready emotionally.

Columnist Kathleen Parker echoes these concerns:

There’s no point debating whether such young girls should be sexually active. Obviously, given the potential consequences, both physical and psychological, the answer is no. Just as obvious, our culture says quite the opposite: As long as there’s an exit, whether abortion or Plan B, what’s the incentive to await mere maturity?

Advocates for lifting age limits on Plan B, including Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, insist that the pill is universally safe and, therefore, all age barriers should be dropped. From a strictly utilitarian viewpoint, this may be well-advised. But is science the only determining factor when it comes to the well-being of our children? Even President Obama, who once boasted that his policies would be based on science and not emotion, has parental qualms about children buying serious drugs to treat a situation that has deeply psychological underpinnings.

What about the right of parents to protect their children? A 15-year-old can’t get Tylenol at school without parental permission, but we have no hesitation about children taking a far more serious drug without oversight?

These are fair questions that deserve more than passing scrutiny — or indictments of prudishness. A Slate headline about the controversy goes: “The Politics of Prude.” More to the point: The slippery slope away from parental autonomy is no paranoid delusion. Whatever parents may do to try to delay the ruin of childhood innocence, the culture says otherwise: Have sex, take a pill, don’t tell mom.

There’s the question of what is the church’s role in all of this.  Maybe abstinence-only education is a bad idea, but at times it seems the alternative is just as bad.  Do I want Harriet to join the “hookup culture?” I want my kid to have knowledge, but I also want to still be kids and not little adults.  What does it mean to be a follower of Christ sexually?  Sexual ethics has to be more than safe sex.

Of course, I don’t want to see any girl get pregnant at a young age, but having sex is more than preventing pregnancy.  Are the kids emotionally ready?  As Parker notes, this isn’t just about science, it’s about emotions and those matter too.

But of course, I’m not a father and I’m a guy.  But I still feel like making Plan B so easily handy is forcing kids to grow up way too fast.