Violating our Conscience: God and Obamacare (Part 4)

Violating our Conscience: God and Obamacare (Part 4) June 14, 2012

My two previous arguments for a God-oriented take on the President’s signature health-care law were both matters of degree. Far from being clear expressions of right or wrong, they pointed out the danger of significantly tilting toward an unbiblical result. In such cases, it can be hard to tell exactly where that line gets crossed, but history tells us it will get crossed eventually. Somewhere. By someone.

The wisdom from Scripture can be summed up in the Biblical warning to “avoid it, don’t go near it, turn from it, and get away!”

Here is my fourth protest that I believe God clearly shares against Obamacare :

4. God demands that we respect each person’s right to a clean conscience before Him.

I’m thinking it won’t take much to convince this Patheos audience of this fact. A few Scriptures should suffice as a reminder:

  • “And looking intently at the council, Paul said, ‘Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.’ “(Acts. 23:1)
  • “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” (Acts 24:16)
  • “Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.” (1 Cor. 8:12)
  • “They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” (1 Tim. 3:9)
  • “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim. 1:5)

Clearly if Obamacare compels us to do something we believe to be morally wrong, it fails to respect our duty to live before God in good conscience. Obamacare sets the table for a lot of scorched consciences to be served up, beginning with those who oppose abortion.

Why the Obama administration chose this fight in this election year instead of waiting until next year when most of the other unpopular parts kick in, I’ll never know. But choose it they did, in spite of promises made to Bart Stupak and other pro-life Democrats that abortions would not be funded.

The HHS mandate is no secret by now, of course. Through a verbal sleight-of-hand, the Department of Health and Human Services mandated that religious instituions pay to provide abortions for their employees. But for these people of faith, to comply with the mandate would be a blatant violation of their beliefs. The mandate attempts to compel them to violate their conscience before God. Unacceptable.

Don’t buy the line that it’s about contraception. It’s about the government being able to force anyone to pay for something that violates his or her conscience. That is the issue so many Christians have with the mandate — and, the greater moral issue so many people of all faiths have with the unpopular law.

Well over 40 lawsuits have been filed by Catholic organizations. Even today, the Catholic bishops gathered in Atlanta to coordinate their strategy of resistance. It’s not just a Catholic issue. If they go down, organizations connected with this Patheos Evangelical portal go down behind them because they represent the largest body of religious organizations in the nation.

When I spoke recently with someone close to the Obama administration’s faith-based office, I asked if the Obama administration even “got it”? Did the Administration understand the moral dillemma created by how HHS applied this 2,0o0 page law? The answer was essentially that they didn’t then. But they do now. Sort of. However, it’s become a political calculation. They think they can’t walk back from the decision without paying too high a price in political capital. So they’ve chosen to take a stand.

But the Catholic bishops and countless other religious leaders must also take a stand. Like Luther of old, their choice is far more vividly clear — and not for political purposes. The divine mandate of a clear conscience before God trumps all other cares. Here they stand. They can do no other. Unless this law is overturned by the Supreme Court in the coming weeks or the mandate voided in other courts of men, these leaders and millions like them will be forced to say with Luther:

Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear and distinct grounds and reasoning—and my conscience is captive to the Word of God—then I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other.  So help me God.

What would you do if you led an organization directed to violate your conscience by the law? Do you think they will stand or blink if the mandate is not overturned? Leave a comment below to join the discussion.

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