Monday, June 30, 2014

Following Today's Hobby Lobby Decision

Remember the debate over government funding for embryonic stem-cell research a decade ago? Early in George W. Bush's presidency, he nixed government funding for embryonic stem-cell research, though he allowed for research to be conducted on existing embryos. A ridiculous outcry rose up from the left calling Bush anti-science and accusing pro-life conservatives of being stuck in the stone age.

The thing about their explosive response is that the Bush administration did not make embryonic stem-cell research illegal. All he did was cease government funding toward a practice with many ethical questions attached. Embryonic stem-cell research continues to this day (though it's not necessary). I'd rather it have been deemed illegal altogether, but at least our tax dollars didn't have to pay for it. That was it.

Fast forward to today's decision by the Supreme Court, granting victory to Hobby Lobby who contested the ObamaCare mandate that would have required businesses to provide their employees with abortifacient drugs. Welcome to the Embryo Wars, Episode 2 (or episode 17,485, but who's counting).

Once again, dissenting voices are decrying the decision made by the Supreme Court, who are allowing for-profit employers to opt out of having to provide abortifacient drugs in their healthcare plans for their employees. It was a close vote, but the Supreme Court ruled that ObamaCare overstepped its bounds in trying to enforce life-ending, abortifacient drugs on employers.

Why is this like The Embryonic Stem-Cell Research Debate of yester-decade? Because just like how the Bush administration's ruling didn't make embryonic stem-cell research illegal, the SCOTUS ruling doesn't knock out contraception coverage for employees. You would think SCOTUS just made contraceptives illegal altogether the way some are weeping over it.

Out of 20 available contraceptives, 4 of them are abortifacients. Those are the contraceptives Hobby Lobby filed suit over. That leaves 16 other contraceptives that even a business like Hobby Lobby will pay for its employees to receive. As Justice Alito has said, employees still have access to contraceptives. Their employers are just not required by government enforcement to provide the ones that could potentially, you know, kill someone.

Joe Carter of the Gospel Coalition tweeted, "Serious question: Is there a medical reason a woman would require 1 of the 4 abortifacients rather than the other 16 covered contraceptives?" Hmmmm. Darn it, I just can't think of one.

Meanwhile, Rachel Held Evans tweeted that the decision, "sets the stage/precedent for corporations to get out of paying for healthcare by claiming religion." No, it doesn't do any such thing! (Denny Burk has already written a champion response as to why Rachel Held Evans is wrong, which is a title the belongs at the top of her blog.)

On the contrary, the SCOTUS ruling affects Catholic institutions like the University of Notre Dame and Little Sisters of the Poor in a less favorable way. The Catholic church is opposed to all contraception, not just abortifacients. They can opt out of providing contraception, but they have to fill out a Labor Department form, and by signing the form, they're designating the provision of contraceptives to someone else. They'd rather not have their hands in anything to do with contraceptives at all.

It should not be the requirement of a business or an employer to provide any kind of contraceptives for their employees. Nor should it be upon the American people to dump money in some kind of public trust so that others might have access to free or "affordable" contraception. The whole issue removes personal responsibility and places the decision in the hands of the government. So many people want that to happen. And that's scary. That is not freedom.

Just like all of the semantic arguments that came with the embryonic stem-cell research debate, be very cautious about how Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby is talked about. The ethics of Hobby Lobby or any other corporation are not the point. Don't get suckered by Pharisaical catch-22's like, "Now who gets to decide what religion a corporation is?" That's a stupid argument which distracts from the much bigger issue.

That issue is what 5 of the Supreme Court's 9 members determined today -- that our government is far overreaching its bounds. We would not even be talking about this if the Obama administration was not venturing into territory where it doesn't belong. Today was a victory for life. Continue to pray for kings and those who are in high positions that they will respect and fight to protect that life (1 Timothy 2:1-4, Proverbs 31:8-9).

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Obvious Child

A couple weeks ago, Beki and I had a night to ourselves, so we decided as part of our evening we would go out and see a movie. It was just a PG film, supposed to be family-friendly entertainment. We could have taken the kids. But as early as the previews, we were glad that we didn't. What was supposed to be a mild Disney film started with a joke about abortion.

One of the trailers was for an upcoming film called Obvious Child. A better name for it would have been "Oblivious Child." It's the fictional story of a comedienne who had a one-night stand, got pregnant, and decided to get an abortion. This is all in the two-minute movie preview, complete with the character getting drunk and taking her clothes off. Preceding a PG-rated movie!

Two of the critical praises for Obvious Child went like this: "Hilarious, heartbreaking, and totally genius." I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but I guess that's the point. "The most winning abortion-themed rom-com ever made." Good heavens, that's a genre? How is a one-night-stand romantic, an abortion comedic, and what on earth are those subjects doing at the beginning of a Disney movie?

Afterward, I approached the manager of the theater and told her what had just played during the previews of a PG-film. I came to her very peacefully, taking it on good faith that she didn't know about the trailer. I was relieved when she shared my surprise. Appalled and embarrassed would be apt descriptors. And she assured me she would take care of the mistake right away.

Nonetheless (and I didn't tell her this), the damage was done. I mean on me. I'm damaged goods now. How much can I trust a movie theater to not show my kids adult subjects? Even when I've watched a movie or read up on it enough to know that the content is okay, can I believe the theater isn't going to throw in some random preview to, say, I don't know, a movie that makes a joke out of drunkenness, one-night-stands, and abortion?

(Is it intentionally ironic that the movie is called Obvious Child? It seems like the film's producers are deliberately taunting those who hold the pro-life position. "Oh, yeah. We agree with you. It's obviously a child. We're going to have our character murder it anyway and get the audience to sympathize and laugh about it.")

It's another reminder that the world cares nothing for my children. No matter how good a person's intentions might be, if they're of this world and they do not worship the Creator of all things, they see no eternal worth in my kids. They don't see the image of God my children were fashioned after. They don't even see the marks of the loving Creator upon themselves. Why would I expect them to see my kids that way?

I once said to someone I was witnessing to, sharing the news of Christ with him, that I cared for him more than he did. That seems like an offensive thing to say, but he wasn't offended. By his demeanor, it almost seemed like he agreed with me. Perhaps he understood that because I saw him as eternally significant, created in the image of God, I actually did love him more than he loved himself.

I don't really know what was going through his mind, so I'm only speculating, but maybe he saw himself as nothing more than a blip on the radar. Here today, gone tomorrow. A product of a one-use-and-then-dispose-of culture. It's of little wonder one-night-stand-and-then-abort is expected to be a relatable and ha-ha funny plot point. It would be only to someone who might find value in moments of life but not life itself.

A week after sitting in a movie theater getting a two-minute promo for an abortion comedy, we were at a clinic watching a 3D ultra-sound of our baby girl. The kids oo'd and aw'd at seeing the image of her face for the first time.

Preview of coming attractions: Baby Girl Hughes! Coming November 4th.

On Sunday, I shared a picture from the ultrasound with the congregation and introduced them to my daughter. That's quite a contrast -- from the "Obvious Child" on a screen in a theater to the "Obvious Child" on a screen in the church.

And that's the way it's supposed to be. This world is fallen and will be until Christ returns. We're to be the light of the world, shining the hope of the gospel into dark spaces. The world doesn't care about a person's eternal significance. We do. We are obvious children made in the image of God. That is why we must desire as God does that none should perish but all should come to repentance (1 Timothy 2:1-7).