Last fall, the Supreme Court agreed to review two religious liberty cases surrounding the Obama Administration's contraception mandate. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties maintain that the federal requirement is an unlawful infringement upon religious liberty, and this year we'll find out if the highest court in the land concurs. In support of the cases, a notable group of Christian pastors, theologians, activists, and intellectuals have filed an amicus brief in which they lay out the Christian conception of work and how this understanding makes compliance with the mandate an impossibility for faith-based organizations and other Christian-owned businesses.
At first blush, nothing in the brief should surprise anyone with a passing familiarity with the Christian faith, but in a nation that is fast losing touch with its Judeo-Christian moral heritage, such an explanation has sadly become necessary. First, the brief reminds the Court that Christian doctrine requires that faith govern every aspect of a Christian's life. President Obama and his Secretary of Health and Human Services have repeatedly insisted that their contraception mandate should have no impact on the conscience of Christian employers. This is because they view religious faith as an exclusively private matter, and they don't acknowledge any connection between a person's religious beliefs and their professional actions.
Christians know better. At the heart of Christ's gospel message is the idea that one's conduct should reflect one's beliefs. Jesus was critical of the religious elites of his day precisely because their everyday behavior didn't reflect the love and mercy of the God they claimed to serve. Christ set the counter-example by practicing exactly what he preached. In the Christian faith, belief involves more than mere intellectual assent. Belief must be translated into behavior. The Book of James reminds us that faith, without works, is dead. James exhorts Christians to "… prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves" (James 1: 22 NASB). It is no good to proclaim faith in the risen Christ if you are unwilling to live out the implications of that faith in your daily life. This is the principle at stake before the Supreme Court.