Just Say No

To all of my friends who are not Jesus people, this post is not for you.  You’ve got your own issues when it comes to talking about sex and contraception. Maybe we can get coffee and talk about it someday.

To my fellow Jesus peeps, however, we need to take a time-out and think about how we really want to talk about contraception.  Things have gotten weird recently.  And ugly.  And it’s not okay.  I had decided not write about this, but I can’t stop thinking about it.  So here goes…

I’m not a big fan of WWJD manipulations, but I wonder if this case calls for it. And I’m not asking what Jesus would think about contraception.  Or what he would think about the new HHS regulations.  Instead, I wonder how he would talk about those who use them, and about those who propose laws about them, laws that we feel strongly about.

Here are three things we should all agree not to do as followers of Jesus:

1.  Calling women ‘sluts.’ Or anything similar. I wasn’t that surprised to hear Rush talk like this about women.  Sad, but not that surprised.  I was, though, very surprised, and even sadder, to see a fellow blogger with Patheos talk like this.  We can be mad, concerned, outraged, afraid, and sorrowful about the state of sexual mores in our country.  We cannot, however, throw stones at women. We might at some point say, “Go and sin no more.”  We may not call women vulgar names.

2.  Calling sex a lifestyle choice, and using that as the reason we shouldn’t pay for contraception the way we pay for other drugs. People don’t want to pay to fund my lifestyle choice.  That’s fine.  But watch where we will end up if we follow that logic all the way through:  If people chose to have ten kids, I may not want to pay for their pre-natal care and deliveries.  If people chose to have HoHos and Coke for breakfast, I may not want to pay for their insulin.  We pay for all kinds of lifestyle choices with our insurance premiums.  That’s a fact. What you really mean is that you don’t want to pay for my particular lifestyle choice because you think my lifestyle is sinful.  That’s fine, but then just say that.  You’re fine having us all pay for your lifestyle choices, so don’t say that you don’t want to pay for a lifestyle choice.  That just makes you sound silly.

3.  Using this controversy as an election-year rallying cry. I sense that many of my right-leaning friends are actually kind of excited that this happened during an election year.  It’s a great energizer for the base.  But it’s wrong to be secretly happy about things that you think are wrong.  I noticed this sinful attitude in myself when I would hear bad news about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I would think to myself, “Well, good.  Maybe this will help get rid of George Bush.” What?!  It was disgusting, and I had to repent.  Events should not be evaluated based on whether or not they help to get “our side” elected.

So what can you say if you find the law troubling. Try saying that you are angry when your faith and the way you live out your faith are misunderstood and maligned.  Say that you think the new law is unconstitutional. Say that you really do want to find a way to respect religious liberty more than you want to use this as an election-year funding tool. Tell us that you are very concerned for the multitudes of women who work for Catholic organizations and can’t get contraception paid for when it’s possible for the single men who work for those organizations to get their Viagra paid for.  Say those things, and many of us will listen to you.

That is if you are really interested in dialogue, in being understood, and in swaying opinion.  Which I’m not always sure that you are.

About Tara Edelschick

Right now, Tara is on sabbatical in Costa Rica. She is sleeping more, and exercising and flossing every day for the first time in her life. She is enjoying her husband, her boys, and Nafisa (the daughter she never had) more than she ever has. And she is learning to rest in the arms of the one who doesn't rank you based on how many things you can cross off your list at the end of the day. Follow her on Twitter@TaraWonders.

  • Christa

    Re: Your Points…

    1) Agreed. The only quibble I would have is that I heard either Ms. Flake herself or someone on her behalf suggest that Rush had impugned her honor (or similar) and I have to say that when you speak on camera about your sex life and that sex life involves pre-marital sex, it seems odd to think that you haven’t already notched your own honor down a few steps. I also have to say that in general it just bugs me when well-educated, white women in America complain about pretty much anything related to being a woman. We have it so good compared to women in other countries. When female circumcision and wife-burning and honor-killings are a thing of the past, then we can get all het up about our petty inequalities.

    2) I think you’re making a category error here. This entire discussion goes away when government gets out of the healthcare business. I have no desire to tell anyone what drugs they should or shouldn’t take. When government seeks to regulate the provision of healthcare or be a provider itself, this Pandora’s box of ridiculous arguments gets opened. Ms. Flake should be free to purchase birth control pills or also be free to seek employment where her employer provided health insurance provides birth control pills. It is not government’s role to make either the pills themselves (even if it were insulin and not BCP) available, nor to force her employer to provide them. If you don’t like your employer’s insurance plan, find another employer.

    3) I completely agree that using the other side’s foibles as a rallying cry can lead to petty joy when “bad things” happen. And that’s not healthy, nor productive. But I hope you recognize that choosing to highlight the birth control issue in this manner and with this timing is as much a rallying cry for liberals hoping to re-elect Obama, as it is one for conservatives hoping to send him packing.

    In other comments, I am not Catholic, but I don’t see the logical connection people are drawing between BCP and Viagra. Completely outside of any religious discussion, I realize that it seems sexist for an insurance provider to cover one and not the other, if you limit your view of BCP to only being a facilitator for sex. But since the Catholic position (or my understanding of it) is to stand against anything that acts as possible abortifactant or that prevents conception, them being opposed to BCP seems clear. Viagra seems more similar to hormone replacement for women that increases their libido and pleasure and I am not aware that either the Catholic church or any insurance company covers one and not the other. If I am wrong, then that is the better analogy to draw.

    • Tara Edelschick

      Thanks for writing.
      1) Words like “slut” and “whore” aren’t primarily about honor to me. They reflect the lack of dignity that the speaker ascribes to the person they describe. I don’t mind someone describing a prostitute as a prostitute, or even a promiscuous person as promiscuous. No one, no matter what their behavior, opens themselves up to being talked about in a way that doesn’t recognize his or her dignity as a creature of God.

      2) I’m fine with the argument that the government should stay completely out of health care (and all commerce for that matter). I disagree with that position, but it’s logical and can be argued on its merits. But the argument I have heard in several places, and that I address in my second point, is not about keeping government out of health care, but is about not wanting the government to mandate coverage for things that lifestyle choices, as opposed to “real” medical care.

      3) I am not in circles where I hear as much about the liberal’s attempts to use the contraception issue as a rallying cry. But of course you are right, that what’s bad for the goose is bad for the gander. Also, note that I am not against pointing out legitimate differences between candidates. That’s the whole point of elections. What I am against is Christians being happy about the mistakes of our opponents, Christians writing in sensational ways unlikely to promote dialogue and change, and Christians lacking grace in our dealings with those who disagree with us.

      As for the Viagra, I wrote about single men who have gotten it, not married men. Since there is coverage for the drug, it’s harder for doctors to keep it out of the hands of single men, which obviously the Catholic church would prefer. I’m not saying that Catholic church has a hypocritical position. I’m just saying that if we want women who disagree with us to know that we are on their sides, we need to be consistent about what we raise a stink about.

  • Jackie F

    I enjoyed reading points from both of your sides…. Sorry Tara, I did get all huffy because my son is a type 1 diabetic, which is an auto-immune disease rather than a metabolic issue…. But I stopped because I got your point – which I’ll now get back to……

    My questions always lead BEYOND the Christian/anti-Christian argument. My first question is, when is your organization religious “enough” to be able to deny the coverage of these types of drugs, procedures, etc… Is there a handbook I missed on that?

    My next question is, if this continues, do you think the government will stop at what are typically considered “Christian” values? Are we ignorant enough to believe that this is where it will stop?

    The path that this government is on is a nasty one – it is veiled as opening doors & rights for all – in spite of those nasty Chritians and their closed minds – right? Well, what happens next? Who has their rights infringed upon next? Oh wait – nobody, because it will be a Socialistic society…. A society where we are all free… As long as we think and act like our government wants us to.

    It’s a frightening picture & one I do not ever want to see….. But if this administration is kept in office, I feel our constitutional rights will start to look like a fond memory…


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