Monday, June 30, 2014

Hobby Lobby and the Affordable Health Care Act

The Supreme court has spoken.  In a 5 to 4 ruling today, the Supreme court has ruled that privately held companies (those companies controlled by 5 or fewer owners) cannot be forced to contradict their religious convictions and supply their employees with health coverage for birth control.  Of course Christians everywhere have been celebrating what they see as a victory. But this victory raises all sorts of problems for Christians and non-Christians alike. For example, let's say you work for an employer that is a Jehovah's Witness and you need a blood transfusion in order to survive. Should the JW employer be able to deny you insurance coverage for your transfusion simply because he thinks that blood transfusions are sinful?  Could you as a Christian be denied coverage of medications that are very necessary, even though these medications do not meet the strict Kosher standards of your Jewish boss?

The implications of this ruling are far reaching and will definitely muddy the waters to the point that the day will certainly come when the details of the healthcare law will be as muddied as the current tax code. Who can explain all the crazy details of that monster with it's myriad of forms, exemptions, codes, and exceptions?  

But of course this is the nature of government. The government MUST apply the law equally to all people. So The government must oppress certain religious beliefs in order to protect the religious beliefs (or non-beliefs) of others, and vice-versa. You see, the government must make rules for ALL the people, and when it does, some of those people must necessarily get the short end of the stick. 

Consider for example the very common situation in which this girl found herself; expelled from school for using her friend's asthma inhaler. The rules clearly forbid the sharing of prescription medication and it applies to all students, even those with asthma. Who cares if her life was in danger or not? A rule is a rule, right? Of course the school could add to the rule and exempt students with asthma, but that wouldn't be fair to those students who have diabetes. Why should one class get to share medication while another does not? So perhaps the school should add exemptions to diabetics as well. But what about those with ADHD or those suffering with depression? Do they get to share their medications too? And now that Marijuana is legal for medical use in some states, we'd have to wonder if they should get an exemption as well. But if everyone gets an exemption, then we've effectively erased the law which banned the sharing of medication in the first place. So, for the law to remain intact it must apply to someone and cause some group to feel trampled upon, or of course it could always trample on all people equally so that we end up with girls being expelled for using a friend's inhaler.This is the fundamental nature of law. 

You see where this is going. A whole slew of rules and regulations need to be added just to make the first rule work properly, and no matter how many rules are added and how convoluted the system becomes, someone is going to get the short end of the stick at some point. It is simply a fact of life that no law can please all of the people all of the time. Someone has to suffer and pay for the benefit of the other. 

It is no different with the healthcare law.  Should the non-religious be allowed to get their way and trample on the beliefs and convictions of the religious? Or should the religious be allowed to get their way and trample on the beliefs and convictions of the non-religious?  Someone is going to get the short end of the stick. And this brings us back to the very beginning and the most fundamental questions of them all.  Why would we want the government to stick their nose into health care in the first place?  Why do we think that a law thrown upon a nation made up of thousands of beliefs and convictions could make things better for all? It is simply impossible. The only result of the ACA will be a burdened people becoming even more burdened. 

Is the Hobby Lobby ruling handed down today a victory for the Religious?  No, not really. This is simply the beginning of an unbearable weight of bureaucracy which is breaking the legs of an already faltering healthcare system.
 With the ruling today the non-religious are feeling the inevitable burden of the health plan that they fought for, while the conservative and the religious are feeling the weight of the healthcare plan that they never wanted in the first place. In the end, the Affordable Healthcare Act makes life harder for both the religious and the non-religious alike. We will all continue to be oppressed in some way. In the end, we all lose and no one ends up with exactly what they wanted.  Just another reason that healthcare should have remained in the hands of the private citizen and why the ACA was a bad idea in the first place. At least before the ACA was instituted we could all get the exact type of health insurance that we wanted. Now it seems that no one will.

The government is still in control of our healthcare, we're paying more for healthcare in order to support the government subsidies for those who are getting their healthcare for next to nothing, in the years to come access to healthcare will no longer be as easy as it is today, but the religious will continue to go on feeling empowered  when they have actually lost power, and they will continue celebrating a victory which is no victory at all. When will the church learn that our hope and encouragement should come from Jesus Christ and his victory over sin and death.  When Jesus wins a victory it's never a half victory like ours it's a complete decimation of our enemies, sin, death, and the curse of the law. Let's remember to be encouraged by the true victory and the true Victor. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Evangelists Wanted

We are Emmaus Road Church. We are a small church plant in the Sugar Land area and we are focused on the mission of preaching the gospel to everyone who lives, works, or plays in Sugar Land. We want to get the gospel into every ear, eye, mind that we can.  Emmaus Road's mission statement is "Preaching the gospel to all, and discipling those who believe, in Sugar Land and throughout the world."  

We currently have a plan in place to get the gospel into every home in the Sugar Land area but we lack evangelists.  So, now we're fishing for fishermen. If you are an evangelist, chances are you are made to feel like an outcast. (I know how it feels) Few churches acknowledge the gift of evangelism and even fewer churches put them to use in the building up of the body. Because so few churches know what to do with evangelists, many evangelists have grown frustrated and bitter and some have stepped away from the church to pursue their evangelistic desires alone.  We think that this is a tragedy. In Ephesians 4:11 Paul writes, "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ" 

We believe that Ephesians 2:19-20 teaches us that the gifts of apostle and prophet were only for the laying of the foundation of the church in it's earliest days, and as such these offices no longer exist. However, we do believe that the gift of evangelist, and pastor-teacher are still operating and necessary for the health of the church.  Ephesians 4, clearly shows that the gift of an evangelist is FOR the church body.  

If you do not have a place to serve and you desire to be a benefit to a local body of believers we encourage you to look over our website and find out who we are and what we believe. If you feel that you are theologically compatible with us and desire to have your evangelistic gifts used in the context of a local church, then click on the link below and contact us.  We'd be happy to meet with you, get to know you, and see if we could use your gifts to help us evangelize the city of Sugar Land. 

For Christ and His Church,

Pastor Louis