Our church has chosen the Westminster Confession of Faith as the best summary of the doctrines of our faith, and one of the glories of this document appears in chapter 20, where it talks about Christian freedom. In the second section of this chapter, we find this statement: “God alone is Lord of the conscience,and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in any thing, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship.” This freedom means that whenever any lesser authority attempts to make a law or rule that requires something that God never requires, or forbids something that God never forbids, the Christian is under no obligation to obey. He or she should simply walk on by, cheerfully submitting to God by refusing to submit to a false god, with no guilt or worry afflicting the conscience.
It would be wonderful if this rarely came up, if lesser authorities behaved themselves, and we never had to remember this principle. But time and time again throughout history, governments, churches, families, businesses, and every sort of little dictator have attempted to bind the consciences of Christians, forcing God’s people to make a choice. Acts 5:29 gives us the paradigmatic response in such cases, and exhorts us to obey God, rather than men.
On January 20 of this year, our government announced that there would be no religious exemption to the “Obamacare” package from 2010 which requires all group health insurance plans to provide contraception to every recipient at no additional cost. While Christians have differing opinions regarding contraception, this legislation mandates coverage for “contraceptive” drugs which function as abortifacients. To put it bluntly, our government is requiring even Christian organizations to pay for chemical abortions, or to cease providing health coverage at all.
This is a wicked decree, one that faithful Christians must speak out against, and if indeed it is enforced, Christians in affected positions must disobey. The government has no authority to require us to participate in evil. Now, God does require that we obey our government, even when we don’t like the laws that are made, such as the horrific and crushing tax burdens that currently afflict us. But suffering under unjust laws is one thing; breaking God’s law against murdering the innocent is another. We cheerfully submit to the plundering of our goods, trusting that God will meet all of our needs, but we may not and will not participate in the evil of abortion.
There are many ways to address the situation, but our first and wisest course is to take our complaint straight to the top. God governs the affairs of nations, and remains in complete control of Washington. In our prayers, however, we must come humbly, remembering that in a representative government, we bear significant responsibility for the current mess. So start with repentance. Also, we should remember to praise and thank God for this sort of problem: we are fighting to maintain an unparalleled level of religious freedom. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world are praying desperately for any sort of religious freedom, crying out to God that they would be free to worship without being murdered themselves. Remember to intercede for them before the throne. Our freedoms inspire Christians all over the world, and give them hope, something to look forward to in the kind providence of King Jesus, so we must never take them for granted, or sit idly by while they are legislated away. Finally, pray with tears: rebellion against “the man” can seem cool and exciting, especially when the cost of our defiance is comparatively low, until we realize that our civil disobedience is necessitated by the fact that Jesus is being scorned and mocked by our government, when instead He deserves unceasing worship and obedience. This is the greatest wickedness of all. So pray that the United States would kiss the Son, for His anger is terrible.
Start here: The Gospel Coalition gives a basic informational update. More: Albert Mohler explains the mandate, then responds to the attempt at compromise, and responds to Nicholas Kristof, explaining what religious liberty entails, Christian Newswire reports a “state of emergency”, Douglas Wilson muses on this sad secular sacrament, and then highlights the ADF’s lawsuit, Charles Krauthammer gives his opinion that this mandate represents “overreach”, Denny Burk provides a list of scholars and leaders opposed to the mandate, and Justin Taylor links to Lutheran and Baptist testimonials before Congress.
There’s plenty more, but that should be enough to take to God in prayer.