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Jesus Points

August 4, 2015

I was reading this article recently where Wheaton College, a school sometimes called “the evangelical Harvard,” was dropping the health insurance it provides for students because, under The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), they are required to include contraceptives in the health plan.  In an odd and embarrassing quirk to this story it turns out that their pre-Obamacare insurance may already have had that coverage but they didn’t know it.  In any event, now that they knew for sure, they decided to take a stand.

There is an opt-out clause that a religious organization can take and that many have, including the religious organization that my wife works for, but Wheaton felt that, because the insurer can then offer this coverage directly, this would be a tacit endorsement of the type of contraceptives known as abortifacients.  Actually it is only some of the abortifacients they object to, those which may interfere with fertilized eggs attaching to the uterine wall.  But, again, they felt they needed to take a stand.

In any event, just weeks before the start of the new term, about 500 Wheaton students have been told, in sorrow according to college leaders, that they can’t get the insurance.  Most Wheaton students have insurance under their parent’s policy, another Obamacare distinctive, so they are not affected.  Those that are affected are the poorest whose parents did not have insurance and, even more so, foreign students.  But, sadly they say, Wheaton needed to take a stand because, after all, the government was “stopping Wheaton from offering them insurance…”

Frankly, I can’t imagine there are that many students at a school like Wheaton that actually wanted the insurance-covered contraceptives.  Evangelical colleges, at least by stated philosophy, are bastions of purity.  But what is done is done and no doubt they are sure that Jesus is smiling down on them.

The whole thing strikes me as symptomatic of an evangelical ailment known as Jesus points.  We don’t do what we do because it is right but because it gets us Jesus points.  We don’t make friends with non-believers for the sake of being a friend but because Jesus wants us to do it so we can witness to them.  We don’t feed the poor because they need feeding but because it reflects well on Jesus.

Heck, often the only reason we have any deliberate contact with “them” is to evangelize because we all know that “A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”   I’ve been taught since I was a teenager that “wicked” means everyone except us Christians and perhaps even some who call themselves Christians but who we know (wink, wink) aren’t really Christians.

The unstated message is that we are more moral, more upstanding.  We only step outside the tribe to earn Jesus points because, after all, we know that we need to be careful around them, we need to “save with fear, pulling them out of the fire” and not get burned ourselves.

All this leads to, at best, shallow relationships.  The quest for Jesus points makes kindness and friendship a means to an end.  We love God because he first loved us but love others because he told us to.  This is why so many of us are comfortable with “lower the boom” evangelism.  We convince ourselves that bluntly telling them they are hell-bound is love and chalk up a Jesus point for doing it. Never mind that the last thing it felt like to the hearer was love.  Telling them “I am right and you are wrong” isn’t love and I would not even count on getting Jesus points.

So what do we do?  We evangelicals are fond of apologetics; a vigorous defense of the tenants of our faith.  Maybe instead of communicating apologetics we should be the apologetic.  Perhaps the best way to do that is to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly” and let Jesus keep the point score.


From → Christianity

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