Mandates & Maccabees
On the 1st day of August, Obamacare’s preventive health services mandate will be implemented, and with it the Health and Human Services (HHS) anti-conscience mandate. After Wednesday, nearly all employers will be forced, at the beginning of their next health plan year, to pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization—regardless of moral or religious objections. (h/t Heritage Blog, read full article here.)
On the 1st day of August, it also happens that the Orthodox Church commemorates the seven holy Maccabeean martyrs, their mother, Solomonia, and their teacher, Eleazar. For those unfamiliar with them, these seven brothers, their mother and their teacher suffered in the year 166 before Christ under the impious Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He pursued a zealous Hellenizing policy and held Jewish customs in contempt. He did everything possible to turn people from the Law of Moses and from their covenant with God. He desecrated the Temple of the Lord, placed a statue of the pagan god Zeus there, and forced the Jews to worship it and to participate in the rites of Dionysius. Possession of the Torah was made a capital offense, copies of it were burned; Jewish sacrifice and circumcision was forbidden; Sabbath observance and feasts were outlawed. Many of the people abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, under the pressure.
A 90-year-old elder, the scribe and teacher Eleazar, was brought to trial for his faithfulness to the Mosaic Law when he spat out the pig’s flesh that was forced into his mouth. He was tortured on the rack and died at Jerusalem.
The disciples of Eleazar, the seven brothers and their mother were brought to trial in Antioch by the king. They fearlessly acknowledged themselves as followers of the True God, and refused to eat the unkosher pork. The eldest brother acted as spokesmen for the rest, saying that they preferred to die rather than break the Law. He was subjected to fierce tortures in sight of his brothers and their mother: his tongue was cut out, he was scalped, and his hands and feet were cut off. Then a cauldron and a large frying pan were heated, and the first brother was thrown into the frying pan, and he died.
The next five brothers were tortured one after the other. The seventh and youngest brother was the last one left alive. Antiochus suggested to Solomonia to persuade the boy to obey him, so that her last son at least would be spared. Instead, the brave mother told him to imitate the courage of his brothers. The child upbraided the king and was tortured even more cruelly than his brothers had been. After all her seven children had died, Solomonia, stood over their bodies, raised up her hands in prayer to God, and died.
All these events are related in the Second Book of Maccabees (chs 6-7), and in the apocryphal Fourth Book of Maccabees (chs 5-14).
“One of the first parts of Obamacare to be implemented will force employers with religious and moral convictions to violate their consciences.”
I can’t help but notice the similarities: a “progressive” ruler, disregard for established religious practice and conviction, and the violation of people’s consciences with the coercive power of the state.
What’s a bit of bacon to a Jew? What’s a few dollars of abortion funding to a pro-life employer? Surely it can’t be that big of a deal, can it? The vast majority of employers are doing it without a fuss, why not you? And besides, if you don’t provide the appropriate insurance, the fines will be staggering and you’ll be driven out of business…
Today, my conscience is violated; most assuredly, tomorrow it will be yours.
We have in the seven Maccabeean martyrs, their mother and their teacher, men and women who would not compromise their consciences nor abandon their morals in the face of bald persecution. Today in America we aren’t facing torture and death for our consciences (God forbid). Most of us will only be confronted with the knowledge that, through our taxes and insurance premiums, we will be participants in abortion, sterilization and contraception, regardless of our religious or moral convictions about these practices. But there will be some who will face economic ruin if they choose to obey their consciences instead of the state.
Alas, that we have come to such evil times.
Holy Maccabeean martyrs, pray to God for us.