Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | February 22, 2012

Some difficult doctrines — the Christian and government

President Obama hopes to improve preventative care in our country.  That’s a major plank of his health-care legislation.  No doubt our health would improve if we acted proactively (ate healthier, exercised more, slept better, etc.).  This would probably lessen our dependence on some of the chemicals and drugs we take which are no-doubt wreaking untold havoc upon our systems.  So, we agree.

But then another column was added to the category “preventative care.”  Birth control.  A mandate coming from the Department of Health and Human Services says that health insurance plans must cover preventative medicines, and included birth control – all forms, even those that control birth by killing conceived life.

On top of that, the mandate included health insurance plans for religious institutions.  The mandate only exempts churches, that is, individual congregations.  Not necessarily exempted are religious schools, hospitals, and charities.  As you may know, this did not sit well.  Such a firestorm whipped up that the White House offered an accommodation, saying that the charities, schools, and hospitals didn’t have to pay for the birth control they opposed, but their insurance would.  As some noted, since schools, charities, and hospitals pay the premiums, it’s a distinction without much of a difference.

On page eight you can read our Synod president’s response to this mandate and the accommodation.  As you read it, you’ll be reminded of the tension with which Christians live.  The First Commandment tells us, “You shall have no other gods before me.”  And this same God says He begins and ends life (Deut. 32:39).  He commands us to neither hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body (5th Commandment).  But that God also says “Honor, serve, and obey” our parents and others in authority (4th Commandment).  His apostles Paul and Peter both said that Christians submit to and obey governments (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-25).  Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Mark 12:17).  And yet all three of them died at the hands of their governments, because they understood that when the government asked them to disobey God, they must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).  Because we give to God what is God’s (Mark 12:17).  And so the Israelite midwives refused to murder baby boys (Exodus 1:15-22), because obeying Pharaoh then would have damned them – yet they obeyed him in all else.  We pray that our nation would recognize the right to life of children in the womb and not trump it with the rights of others.  We pray also that our government would recognize our conscience on this issue, a conscience bound by the Word of God, a conscience that not only does not allow us to use drugs, medications, contraceptives, or procedures and surgeries that harm or end a life, but also does not allow us to provide such things to others against our will.

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Responses

  1. Deutschlander’s “Civil Government,” a volume of the People’s Bible doctrinal books, is really good in explaining the 2 “kingdoms” (as he calls them) & how Christians interact within each, even if it’s about the same issue. It is more academic, perhaps, than other PB’s doctrine books but well worth a lay person’s time & effort. Reading it was very helpful for me – enlightening, in fact – but I had not picked it up since 2001 so am now drilling into it a 2nd time. Still very helpful! Have decided to get it out every 4 years so I can keep my spiritual wits about me in major election years.

  2. I agree 100%! That volume is certainly among the best in the People’s Bible:Teachings series (available from Northwestern Publishing House) and I heartily recommend it to everyone. Here’s the link so you can purchase it from NPH:

    http://online.nph.net/p-1428-civil-government.aspx


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