Martyrdom vs. Martyr Complexes

Martyrdom vs. Martyr Complexes January 7, 2013

Fred Clark has a post about an Evangelical blog entry by Karen Swallow Prior that made a connection between the martyrdom of Stephen and the fact that Hobby Lobby is going to have to provide comprehensive insurance for employees, including coverage for things that the employer personally does not want to.

Employers have always had to be compelled to provide safe work conditions, health insurance, fair wages, and so on. Some have done it out of the goodness of their heart. Most have not, until compelled to by law and/or the unionization of workers.

But it is the comparison with Stephen the martyr that irks Fred the most, and rightly so. And so he cites some information in Acts about Stephen, and then concludes his post with the following:

That is who St. Stephen was. He wasn’t just the “first Christian martyr,” he was also the first Christian hired to carry out an affirmative mandate for the care of women who had previously been denied a fair share and a fair shake.

To invoke Stephen in the defense of some alleged Christian “right” to deny workers the health care they have earned is inexcusable. To presume you’re the heirs of Stephen because you’re fiercely defending the “religious liberty” to neglect the neglected isn’t just immoral, it’s biblically illiterate. It demonstrates a perversely stubborn refusal to understand the story of Stephen that parallels an equally perverse and stubborn refusal to understand how contraception, employee benefits and health insurance work.

This is not what Christianity is supposed to be. Christians are not supposed to take the side of wage-deniers against wage-earners. Christians are not supposed to take the side of slut-shamers against women. Christians are not supposed to take the side of ignorance against truth. Christians are not supposed to take the side of indulgent pride against love.

See also Libby Anne’s post at Love, Joy, Feminism.

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