Civil Disobedience?

Much ink has been spilled lately regarding the new health care law’s mandate which forces employers (including religious employers) to provide coverage for contraceptives. As many of us know, the term “contraception” has been twisted in its meaning so that it is now used to refer to abortifacients as well as traditional barrier methods designed to prevent fertilization. The media won’t give us that context, of course, nor are they giving us the whole story. Indeed, news coverage of this controversy would have you believe that this is solely a Roman Catholic issue when in fact there are plenty of Protestants who are equally opposed to this mandate. The strategy of the secular media is very clear: marginalize the opposition as much as possible while painting them as backward extremists.

So where does this leave the church? A media campaign of misinformation can be fought to one degree or another, but how do we respond to the Federal government? God commands us in the Sixth Commandment to reject all forms of murder, including abortion. We also know from Scripture that we are to obey civil magistrates (Rom. 13:1-7), but this is predicated on the idea that the magistrates are not prohibiting that which God commands or demanding what God condemns. Ultimately, we are to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). In the case of this new Federal mandate, the Obama Administration is telling us to sin. This is clearly unacceptable.

A chorus of voices has already spoken out against this unconstitutional act. An appeal to Caesar is unlikely to produce any meaningful relief for the consciences of millions of Christians, something made evident by the President’s so-called “compromise” which was no compromise at all. Al Mohler in particular has written about this situation at length here, there, and everywhere. I’m pleasantly surprised to see prominent Evangelical leaders taking a stand as well. I hope to see more Christians stepping out on the same ground. We’re not just seeing vocal outbursts of opposition to the policy itself, but open promises of civil disobedience should the policy stand in place.

Is civil disobedience the proper course of action? It most definitely is if all judicial efforts have been exhausted and no lesser magistrates will exercise interposition. If all these avenues have failed, then we have nothing left but an appeal to heaven. But are prepared for this? Are Christians in America prepared for financial loss and possible jail time? Certainly Christians around the world are suffering much more, but these are legitimate costs nevertheless. We are required to give up everything for Christ if that’s what He demands of us. One thing is certain: should it come down to civil disobedience, this will definitely remove much of the dross of the visible church.

Above all else, the church must take this stand humbly and with the utmost clarity. The Federal government is asking us to fund chemical abortions. In other words, they are asking us to pay for murder. God has indeed spoken on this matter (Ex. 20:13) and we are bound to obey Him above the demands of any human institution, including civil government. Like the Hebrew midwives in Egypt, we will not obey the Pharaoh of our land. I have no idea how far this situation will go, but let us pray right now that God would give us the grace to stand firm for His precepts and His gospel.

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