Hobby Lobby and the Kingdom of God

Hobby Lobby and the Kingdom of God

For many in our world, the idea of religion as an influencer of public policy is frightening. As long as the church stays inside its walls, redeems drunkards from the city streets, marries and buries, then it is due the tax exemption that it receives. But when the church finds a voice in the public arena and begins to operate out of a different cultural narrative, then it is narrow, bigoted, and dangerous. That’s the world we live in. And Christians with convictions are in the crosshairs of public opinion.

And then we wake up to a Supreme Court decision that upholds the conscience of the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby. I find some elements of Obamacare to be helpful – children staying on their parent’s health coverage through their college years, the mandate that requires insurance companies to offer coverage to families who have children with serious illness, and the attempt to address the uninsured. At the same time, I find the over-reach that ignores a sacred conviction about life in the womb to be unacceptable.

Christians live by a different narrative than the prevailing ethos. We are people of the kingdom of God who pray that God’s name be hallowed among us and that God’s will be done on earth even as it is in heaven. Our core identifying prayer is for the kingdom of God to come: here, now. This is not a hope to be raptured out of this world but a prayer that this world be redeemed by God.  Our story says that God actually cares about the news, politics, and decisions of the cities we live in. God is not a cloistered being who hangs out in religious buildings hoping his people will drop by to see him once a week. Our God has dibs on economic theory, political philosophy, scientific discovery, art, music, play, entertainment, business, commerce, education, and the human body. God has even staked his claim to the future of graveyards.

So when the Green family risked their financial security in the world to stand up for a belief in the sanctity of life, I celebrated—because in a small way, the kingdom of God arrived. And when the Supreme Court (strange name for a group of people who will one day bow and confess that Jesus is Lord) sided with Hobby Lobby, I was glad.

The misinformation around the case is significant. In case you are wondering, women are not being denied access to birth control. It is actually one of the freest and most easily accessed products in the medical world today. And while the Catholic Church sided with the ruling, their objection to contraception is not shared by most evangelicals like the Greens. But our common opposition to abortifacients is. The story of the kingdom of God involves cherishing the sanctity of life, even in a hobby store employee benefit. Our courts have declared that we have the right to live out our faith.

Thank you, Hobby Lobby, for putting your money where your faith is. Thank you, Court justices, for protecting religious liberties. Thank you, Catholic brothers and sisters, for refusing to bend on the sanctity of life. And may the humility that befits Christ, rather than the arrogance of mad victors, be our response to this decision.

Comments

  1. Randy Anderson says:

    Thanks old friend for your clarity on this. What I have been trying to say to many, including sadly, many Nazarene University types.

  2. GS Ruff says:

    Thank you for framing this situation so well.

  3. Mary Griffis says:

    No one is forced to work for/at Hobby Lobby. My point is that if you don’t agree with the coverage, go work elsewhere. This should NOT even be an issue. Yea for Hobby Lobby for not backing down and also for staying closed on Sunday! Amazing!

  4. Tina Mitchell says:

    Well said Dan!
    Thank you!

  5. Dan,

    Thank you! Your words and sentiment convey wisdom that many worldlings as well as some Christians need to ponder.

    Blessings,
    Lane

    • Thank you, President Boone, for your humble yet powerful response to this victory. All too often, Christ’s followers in America forget why they should stand by Him: it isn’t to rub political dirt in another’s face, to claim our rights as true Americans! or to stick it to the man. It’s simply to live out a piece of the Lord’s prayer, and in doing so help to reconcile, redeem, and make holy a broken world. Thank you for reminding us that building Christ’s Kingdom should be at the heart of all our motivations.

  6. I pray that the church responds to this ruling with humble appreciation. I hope we can learn we are not in competition with the world, but are left here to be God’s hope for those who feel abortion is their only answer. The Jesus I know would stand for justice as the Green family has, and try to reach into the lives of those who do not know the love of his father.

  7. Russ Long says:

    Thanks for a well articulated response to the Hobby Lobby decision. I believe if we had a more a reasoned conversation regarding these issues, we could resolve critical issues we are facing. Peter Drucker said that some of the best leaders in any community are pastors. He recognized that many pastors understand the complexities of issues such as this and are able to speak truthfully and lovingly. I just read your new book, and I am thankful for your willingness to address important issues.

  8. Dan you said it– money where your faith is.
    Shame, for shame, on you and all who see this as an encroachment on Christianity. Ella and Plan B are not, I repeat ARE NOT ABORTIFCANTS. They stop ovulation.

    Who does this ruling benefit? The rich or the poor? The powerful or the powerless? I challenge you Dan as a leader in the COTN to distance any mixing of faith and politics. Especially when large amounts of money are exchanged.

    Mary, have you tired getting a job lately? That might sound like a good idea but hobby lobby does a lot of things right like pay a livable wage. If you were to quit you’d be unemployeed for a while and probably go back to 7.25/hr

  9. Rodger Allen Jones says:

    Dan,
    Thanks for being one of the balancing voices in an otherwise overdramatic reaction to the SC decision. Even though this was titled on religious liberties, which is true. The weight of the decision was on how the requirement was included in the plan, without the constititional balance test.

    The 5/4 decision is not surprising. What was surprising was the decenting voice response as if they were not there hearing the evidence presented.

    The intentional misinformation has been the catalyst to much of the viseral responses that are devoid of actual facts. The department that added those additional coverage requirements within the Obama Care Plan was not done by congress in the approved plan, but added by a back corner HHS office supervisor hoping no one would notice. Someone did and therfore was not going to allow the intentional violation of a known and established constitional liberty to be forced on the person(s) living under that right.

    The intention of that rogue department lacks understaning of the limits of law and the basis on how proper law is written. That improper requirement was a large basis to the decision the supporting justices stood on. Seems to me the dessenting judges needed to set aside their personal feelings on this and simply do their job of following proper establishment of law itself. It didn’t pass the legal law test plain and simple.

  10. Justin Underwood says:

    Why do you think Hobby Lobby didn’t mind providing the birth control methods (so called abortifacients if you don’t understand the method by which they prevent births) before Obabmacare when the insurance they covered included these? How is it such a stand for religious rights when they invest in the companies who make these? You seem pretty sure that your version of God agreed wholeheartedly with you on this, so I guess you’re saying that God’s kingdom is here when when women don’t use IUDs but He’s pleased when men make money off of them. That seems like shaky theology to stand on for being so sure. It seems like Hobby Lobby have gotten the divine message from the Republican Party on this one since God didn’t speak before the Affordable Care Act was passed.

  11. Justin Underwood says:

    The following is a link to a story about LDS using the Hobby Lobby decision to circumvent child labor laws and had children working in a pecan field when they were supposed to be in school. Thy kingdom come?

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/09/17/a-fundamentalist-mormon-was-allowed-to-keep-silent-about-child-labor-violations-due-to-wait-for-it-hobby-lobby/

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