I have a lot of thoughts about the Hobby Lobby ruling yesterday, most of them centered on the ridiculously wrong medical science behind the Green family’s case and the absolutely insane idea that my employer has any right to say what I do with my earned benefits once it leaves their bank account. Not to mention the heartbreak I feel for the 14% of women in this country who use birth control and IUDs for purposes other than contraception, mostly life-threatening medical conditions, who now have to hope and pray that their right to a healthy and long life doesn’t violate their employer’s “religious liberty.” It’s disgusting.
|© 2012 Nicholas Eckhart, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio|
But, I want to focus on another issue that has gained more relevance for me since this ruling yesterday morning. Let me explain it this way: when I go to a job interview, that interviewer is generally only evaluating my previous work experience, my strengths and weaknesses, and my background. My race or gender isn’t even thought of in any way. When I go to the doctor, no one questions the decisions I make with my doctor in any way. When I make a decision to work long hours despite having two kids, no one considers me a bad or deficient parent, or worries about my kids being abandoned.
The point is, as a white man in America, my identity never plays a role in the decisions and privileges I get in life. I never have to worry about any other consideration. I’m very lucky in that way.
And I’m also in a vast minority. Because, as a white Christian male, I am the only demographic in America that doesn’t deal with inherent systematic bias in life. The Hobby Lobby decision is just another point of evidence in that contention.
When I purchase health insurance through an employer, I never have to wonder if everything I select will be paid for. I can get any medical service I deem necessary. If I want a vasectomy (eliminating my own ability to reproduce) I know my employer will pay for it via my insurance, no harm no foul. When I go down to my local M.D. to get the procedure done, I will not have protesters standing in front of me crying for all the little unborn babies never getting a chance at life because of my choice.
Women don’t get that kind of freedom. Their health choices are always open for questioning and criticism. Their ability to make reproductive choices is the most hotly contested political issue of the last half-century. And now, they have to wonder if the health care they thought they were signing up for access to will still be there when they need it.
Not to mention, their ability to land jobs is tied to whether or not they are pregnant, are likely to become pregnant, or have children at home. Their ability to do a job is questioned by those who wonder if they are “tough enough” or “have thick enough skin” to “Run with the big boys.” Their mothering skills are questioned if they have the gall to pursue higher education or spend a few more minutes at the office.
And I have even mentioned that the career I have chosen, that of ministry, isn’t even open to a huge number of women in this country? Whereas I can become a minster in any denomination that I feel I belong to, women have to limit that choice. I heard a young women recently tell a story, with tears in her eyes, about how she was just a little child when she heard her newly-ordained brother preach in the local Southern Baptist church. At that moment, she felt a calling on her life, a passion to follow her brother and become a representative of the church in this world. And instead of open arms and pride, her family rejected her calling and told her she was wrong and sinful for feeling a calling from God, because she is a woman. Thank God she has found a new home in the UMC where she is welcome to follow her calling.
As Christians, we shoulder a large load of blame in the oppression and degradation of women. For too long, we told women they were too dirty and broken to be a representative of God to others, among other pursuits and dreams. Even if many of our churches have opened their pulpits to women, many others, including the two largest Christian denominations in the United States, still refuse to do so, for no other good reason than they are women, and the old men running these churches are scared too death of a woman having any authority against them in any way.
There is only one way to live a Christians, and this is with radical love, acceptance, and equality. Yesterday’s ruling, and more importantly the attitude it engenders and perpetuates toward women, is anything but Christian in nature.
The war on women in America is alive and well. Anyone who thinks otherwise is blind to the world around them.