Maccabees and the insurance mandate

Good stuff from the Book of Maccabees, as applied by John Garvey, president of Catholic University on why he is suing the federal government over the Obamacare contraceptive/abortifacient mandate:

A wonderful story in the second book of Maccabees describes the martyrdom of the old scribe Eleazar. It occurred during the Hellenizing campaign of Antiochus Epiphanes. He forced the Jews “to forsake the laws of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God.” Eleazar was ordered on pain of death to eat pork. He refused.

The men in charge of the sacrifice, who had known him for a long time, took him aside and offered to spare him if he would just eat something that looked like pork. “Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life,” he said, “lest many of the young should suppose that Eleazar in his 90th year has gone over to an alien religion[.]” And so they killed him.

This is a story about religious freedom, and it has two points. The first is that we should put our duty to obey God’s laws above our obligation to the state. (And it is cruel on the state’s part to force people to commit sinful acts.) The second is that, quite apart from our own failure in forsaking God’s laws, we do an additional wrong in leading the young to believe that this is acceptable.

I have found myself thinking a lot about Eleazar in the past few months, as we have looked for a way to escape the dilemma the Department of Health and Human Services has posed for The Catholic University of America with its mandated-services regulation. The regulation orders the university, in its student and employee health-insurance plans, to cover surgical sterilization, prescription contraceptives, and drugs that cause early-stage abortions at no added cost to the subscribers. If we fail to do this, we will have to pay a fine of $2,000 per full-time employee, or roughly $2.6-million per year.

The Catholic Church believes that married couples should be open to the possibility of new life, and that artificial interventions to prevent or terminate pregnancy are wrong. News coverage of the dispute has observed that many members of the church dissent from this teaching. Many of the Hellenized Jews in Judea went along with Antiochus’s decrees, too. That division of opinion did not make the treatment of Eleazar any more liberal.

Like Eleazar, our university has been ordered by the government to do something it views as morally wrong. America, unlike the Seleucid Empire, has traditionally taken a tolerant view toward folks in that predicament. When West Virginia ordered the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag (an act they viewed as sinful), the Supreme Court said, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official … can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Like Eleazar, we are not concerned only about the uprightness of our own behavior. We are worried that we will do an additional wrong by leading our students to believe that the actions the Department of Health and Human Services seeks to promote are acceptable. Our mission, as a Catholic university, is to see that our students grow in wisdom, age, and grace during their time here. We teach that virtues like chastity, fidelity, and respect for life are not just ideas worth debating in philosophy class, but also ideals worth living. Compliance with the government’s mandated-services regulation would make that a lesson in hypocrisy.

via A Matter of Faith and Freedom – Commentary – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

By the way, though most Protestants don’t consider the Apocrypha, those histories of the Jews between the Testaments written in Greek, to be canonical (Catholics do), all of the old theologians say they are profitable to read.  Luther included them with his translation and the Confessions sometimes quote them.  So you might be interested in The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes, a new offering from Concordia Publishing House.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    That’s great, so long as the Apocrypha is not elevated to the level of Scripture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    That’s great, so long as the Apocrypha is not elevated to the level of Scripture.

  • Booklover

    Excellent article.

    Why would the government force birth control and abortifacients on any institution other than to display their power? If they were going to force something, why not a lifesaving treatment? Or a healthgiving cure? Goodness, I could use a free forced asthma medication–mine costs me $300 a month. But I don’t believe in such government power.

  • Booklover

    Excellent article.

    Why would the government force birth control and abortifacients on any institution other than to display their power? If they were going to force something, why not a lifesaving treatment? Or a healthgiving cure? Goodness, I could use a free forced asthma medication–mine costs me $300 a month. But I don’t believe in such government power.

  • Carl Vehse

    Wow! That’s some tie-in.

    Quoting an article about the HHS forcing a Roman Church university to support and pay for birth control abortifacients, written by the Roman Church university president, using a story in an apocryphal book the Romanists consider to be canon, about Jewish martyrdom (What?! We don’t have any Scriptural stories about Christian martyrdom?), and then tying that to a plug for the upcoming publication of The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition by a publisher who also happens to publish some “books of Veith.

    “Luther included them with his translations…”

    Yes, but in his 1534 title to the Apocrypha section, Martin Luther wrote:

    “APOCRYPHA, Das sind Bücher, so der heiligen Schrift nicht gleich gehalten, und doch nützlich und gut zu lesen sind.”

    which may be translated as: “APOCRYPHA, that is, books which are not held equal to the Holy Scriptures, and yet which are useful and good to read.” [Emphasis added]

    “… and the Confessions sometimes quote them.”

    Only in the Apology III:156,158 and XXI: 9 (in reply to the Pontifical Confutation) and not as a recognition that Tobias and 2nd Maccabees belonging to prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament.

    C-TLMMV (Crypto-Tridentine Lufauxran mileage may vary)

    @1: “That’s great, so long as the Apocrypha is not elevated to the level of Scripture.”

    Too late, J. Dean. There is at least one LCMS pastor today who teaches in a five-part course for his church’s adult Sunday School class that the Apocrypha are part of the Old Testament of the Bible (Holy Scriptures), although of secondary rank (deuterocanon), analogous to the distinction in the New Testament canon of homologoumena and antilegomena.

    In the meantime, the Apocrypha-mentioned-on-a-Lutheran-blog alarm has gone off at CPH HQ.

  • Carl Vehse

    Wow! That’s some tie-in.

    Quoting an article about the HHS forcing a Roman Church university to support and pay for birth control abortifacients, written by the Roman Church university president, using a story in an apocryphal book the Romanists consider to be canon, about Jewish martyrdom (What?! We don’t have any Scriptural stories about Christian martyrdom?), and then tying that to a plug for the upcoming publication of The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition by a publisher who also happens to publish some “books of Veith.

    “Luther included them with his translations…”

    Yes, but in his 1534 title to the Apocrypha section, Martin Luther wrote:

    “APOCRYPHA, Das sind Bücher, so der heiligen Schrift nicht gleich gehalten, und doch nützlich und gut zu lesen sind.”

    which may be translated as: “APOCRYPHA, that is, books which are not held equal to the Holy Scriptures, and yet which are useful and good to read.” [Emphasis added]

    “… and the Confessions sometimes quote them.”

    Only in the Apology III:156,158 and XXI: 9 (in reply to the Pontifical Confutation) and not as a recognition that Tobias and 2nd Maccabees belonging to prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament.

    C-TLMMV (Crypto-Tridentine Lufauxran mileage may vary)

    @1: “That’s great, so long as the Apocrypha is not elevated to the level of Scripture.”

    Too late, J. Dean. There is at least one LCMS pastor today who teaches in a five-part course for his church’s adult Sunday School class that the Apocrypha are part of the Old Testament of the Bible (Holy Scriptures), although of secondary rank (deuterocanon), analogous to the distinction in the New Testament canon of homologoumena and antilegomena.

    In the meantime, the Apocrypha-mentioned-on-a-Lutheran-blog alarm has gone off at CPH HQ.

  • Lutherboy

    And we remember Polycarp, who would not follow the procunsul’s urging to proclaim “Caesar is Lord” by burning incense to the statue of the Emperor. Instead he confessed,

    “Eighty and six years I have served him. How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour? Bring forth what thou wilt.”

    Is Caesar the Lord and Giver of Life? No. Two thousand years on and there are still those who will not bend their knee to Ba’al. Alleluia.

  • Lutherboy

    And we remember Polycarp, who would not follow the procunsul’s urging to proclaim “Caesar is Lord” by burning incense to the statue of the Emperor. Instead he confessed,

    “Eighty and six years I have served him. How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour? Bring forth what thou wilt.”

    Is Caesar the Lord and Giver of Life? No. Two thousand years on and there are still those who will not bend their knee to Ba’al. Alleluia.

  • DonS

    I am pleasantly surprised that the liberal Catholic University is taking this stand. The fact that Obama has even even goaded the likes of Georgetown, Catholic University, and Notre Dame into opposition is an amazing, if politically inept, accomplishment.

  • DonS

    I am pleasantly surprised that the liberal Catholic University is taking this stand. The fact that Obama has even even goaded the likes of Georgetown, Catholic University, and Notre Dame into opposition is an amazing, if politically inept, accomplishment.

  • Grace

    The LORD Jesus Christ never mentioned the Apocrypha, (the Apocrypha was written approximately 400 years BC. The Jewish people never accepted the books within the Apocrypha. If the Apocrypha had been of any importance it would have been mentioned by Christ, or it would have been highly thought of by the Jews, but this wasn’t the case.

    Jerome spoke against the Apocrypha – Josephus never mentioned the Apocrypha (he was a Jewish historian 1st century.

    “And the day following Judas came with his company, to take away the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen, in the sepulchres of their fathers. And they found under the coats of the slain, some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbiddeth to the Jews: so that all plainly saw, that for this cause they were slain. Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden. And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain. And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection. (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.
    (2 Machabees 12:39-46

    We know very well that we cannot pray for the sins of the dead. This is false doctrine from 2 Machabees.

    I would suggest looking further into the Apocrypha, before thinking it of value.

  • Grace

    The LORD Jesus Christ never mentioned the Apocrypha, (the Apocrypha was written approximately 400 years BC. The Jewish people never accepted the books within the Apocrypha. If the Apocrypha had been of any importance it would have been mentioned by Christ, or it would have been highly thought of by the Jews, but this wasn’t the case.

    Jerome spoke against the Apocrypha – Josephus never mentioned the Apocrypha (he was a Jewish historian 1st century.

    “And the day following Judas came with his company, to take away the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen, in the sepulchres of their fathers. And they found under the coats of the slain, some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbiddeth to the Jews: so that all plainly saw, that for this cause they were slain. Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden. And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain. And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection. (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.
    (2 Machabees 12:39-46

    We know very well that we cannot pray for the sins of the dead. This is false doctrine from 2 Machabees.

    I would suggest looking further into the Apocrypha, before thinking it of value.

  • Grace

    The Bible is our SWORD.

    Abortion is evil, being submissive to evil is not Biblical. Instead we are to:

    11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

    12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

    13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

    15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

    16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

    17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

    18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
    Ephesians 6

    Turning to God’s Word as the SWORD is the answer, nothing else.

  • Grace

    The Bible is our SWORD.

    Abortion is evil, being submissive to evil is not Biblical. Instead we are to:

    11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

    12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

    13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

    15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

    16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

    17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

    18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
    Ephesians 6

    Turning to God’s Word as the SWORD is the answer, nothing else.

  • Jonathan

    DonS, where does your denomination (CavChaps?) stand on the issue of birth control?

  • Jonathan

    DonS, where does your denomination (CavChaps?) stand on the issue of birth control?

  • Jonathan

    DonS, never mind, thanks. I found it:

    http://www.prolifeblogs.com/articles/archives/2012/05/calvary_chapel.php

    Grace, this is your denomination also, isn’t it?

  • Jonathan

    DonS, never mind, thanks. I found it:

    http://www.prolifeblogs.com/articles/archives/2012/05/calvary_chapel.php

    Grace, this is your denomination also, isn’t it?

  • Daniel Gorman

    It’s not suprising that John Garvey, the President of Catholic University, wants his lord and master, the Pope, to be able to thumb his nose at the U.S. Constitution, the power ordained by God (Romans 13:1). What is surprising is that so many Protestants and Lutherans are carrying water for the Antichrist.

    The Pope falsely claims that his business activities are not subject to government regulation because he is above all government (Of the Power and Primacy of the Pope, 33). This teaching is contrary to scripture (John 18:36) and the U.S. Constitution which forbids the establishment of the Pope’s antichristian religion.

    The Pope’s insurance business must be subject to the same regulations that every other insurance company is. If the Pope, because of his great cunning and political power, is able to sell health insurance on different terms than his competition, it is the beginning of the end of religious freedom in the United States. Having tasted victory in the health insurance arena, the Pope will demand special concessions for all his non-church related businesses.

  • Daniel Gorman

    It’s not suprising that John Garvey, the President of Catholic University, wants his lord and master, the Pope, to be able to thumb his nose at the U.S. Constitution, the power ordained by God (Romans 13:1). What is surprising is that so many Protestants and Lutherans are carrying water for the Antichrist.

    The Pope falsely claims that his business activities are not subject to government regulation because he is above all government (Of the Power and Primacy of the Pope, 33). This teaching is contrary to scripture (John 18:36) and the U.S. Constitution which forbids the establishment of the Pope’s antichristian religion.

    The Pope’s insurance business must be subject to the same regulations that every other insurance company is. If the Pope, because of his great cunning and political power, is able to sell health insurance on different terms than his competition, it is the beginning of the end of religious freedom in the United States. Having tasted victory in the health insurance arena, the Pope will demand special concessions for all his non-church related businesses.

  • Booklover

    @10: Just because some don’t accept the Pope in the place of God, doesn’t mean we should accept government in the place of God.

    If the government is allowed to force private entities to include certain items in their insurance, what else can they force us to do?

  • Booklover

    @10: Just because some don’t accept the Pope in the place of God, doesn’t mean we should accept government in the place of God.

    If the government is allowed to force private entities to include certain items in their insurance, what else can they force us to do?

  • Daniel Gorman

    The Pope isn’t suing the government to protect the rights of private entities. He suing for special rights that other private entities don’t have. If the Pope wins his suit, what other special privileges will he demand for his dominion?

  • Daniel Gorman

    The Pope isn’t suing the government to protect the rights of private entities. He suing for special rights that other private entities don’t have. If the Pope wins his suit, what other special privileges will he demand for his dominion?

  • helen

    Daniel Gorman:
    The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is not interested in providing abortion causing drugs “free” to its employees either. Anyone who is pro life is against this challenge to religious freedom & practice.

    Anyone on medication for a chronic condition might like the drugs which are a necessity to be “free” but in truth no commodity is free. So why should drugs to make recreational sex “safe” (for the practitioners) be paid for by others? It’s an “in your face” challenge to conservative Christianity, (probably written with the advice of Planned Parenthood).
    I don’t know where you are coming from, Mr. Gorman. elca?

  • helen

    Daniel Gorman:
    The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is not interested in providing abortion causing drugs “free” to its employees either. Anyone who is pro life is against this challenge to religious freedom & practice.

    Anyone on medication for a chronic condition might like the drugs which are a necessity to be “free” but in truth no commodity is free. So why should drugs to make recreational sex “safe” (for the practitioners) be paid for by others? It’s an “in your face” challenge to conservative Christianity, (probably written with the advice of Planned Parenthood).
    I don’t know where you are coming from, Mr. Gorman. elca?

  • Daniel Gorman

    helen#13: I’m a BOC Lutheran. I don’t want anyone’s abortion-on-demand drugs paid for by insurance. However, I disagree with your assumption that the end (special rights for Papists and their friends) justifies the means (discriminating against everyone else).

    The LCMS and the Papists want special privileges for their insurance businesses that other insurance companies don’t receive. Why, because they are “churches”? The BOC says the Papists aren’t a church (SA, III, XII) and the LCMS has never claimed to be a church.

    Selling insurance belongs to Caesar’s kingdom not Christ’s kingdom. If the LCMS and the Papists sued for the right of all companies not to insure abortion drugs, I could support their suit.

  • Daniel Gorman

    helen#13: I’m a BOC Lutheran. I don’t want anyone’s abortion-on-demand drugs paid for by insurance. However, I disagree with your assumption that the end (special rights for Papists and their friends) justifies the means (discriminating against everyone else).

    The LCMS and the Papists want special privileges for their insurance businesses that other insurance companies don’t receive. Why, because they are “churches”? The BOC says the Papists aren’t a church (SA, III, XII) and the LCMS has never claimed to be a church.

    Selling insurance belongs to Caesar’s kingdom not Christ’s kingdom. If the LCMS and the Papists sued for the right of all companies not to insure abortion drugs, I could support their suit.


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