Engage before they come for you
August 1, 2019
by Jonathan Imbody
Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) member and OB/Gyn physician Dr. Regina Frost appears to be a modern-day Queen Esther, taking a courageous stand for the faith as did the Biblical heroine. Dr. Frost is the face of Christian doctors in a high-stakes federal lawsuit to protect the new federal conscience protection rule from legal assault.
Biblical heroes serve as exemplars
In an age of increasing hostility toward believers in the healthcare arena on issues including abortion, assisted suicide, sex and gender, the faith community needs more Esthers and Daniels to stand up and speak out.
Esther, the courageous queen of Ahasuerus, averted a pogrom by risking her life to approach and entreat the king on behalf of her imperiled Jewish brethren. As she contemplated the risk and compared it to the impending consequences for her fellow believers if she did not speak up, Esther committed to taking a stand, concluding, “if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16, NASB).
Daniel, a young Jewish captive chosen to serve as a protégé of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, committed to not compromising his conscience. He wisely and respectfully obtained an accommodation from the king’s orders that would have violated his faith:
“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8, NASB).
Conscience advocates battle state and city governments
Dr. Frost and CMDA are taking a stand against the assault on faith and conscience by 19 state governments, the District of Columbia and the cities of New York and Chicago. Becket, the law firm that successfully represented Little Sisters of the Poor in a U.S. Supreme Court religious freedom case over a government contraceptives mandate, represents Dr. Frost and CMDA, who have intervened to protect the conscience rule in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
As Becket explains on its website,
Dr. Regina Frost has practiced medicine for 15 years, specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. She helps lead a network of female healthcare professionals called Women Physicians in Christ, a ministry of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) that is committed to supporting women physicians and dentists by integrating their personal, spiritual, and professional lives.
CMDA is an organization of over 19,000 healthcare professionals, including Dr. Frost, who are committed to living out their faith in their practice of medicine. CMDA members serve everyone and seek to treat all of their patients like Christ would, providing all with compassionate care, healing, and hope. CMDA medical professionals take an oath to do no harm and would never deny routine or life-saving care to anyone.
Religious freedom protects the rights of individuals to live out their faith in all facets of their lives—including in their professions. This lawsuit threatens the ability of religious healthcare professionals to provide quality, compassionate healthcare, forcing them to choose between their conscience and their practice.
As Dr. Frost has realized, this is no time for believers to silently hide while passively hoping that somehow the controversy and the agitators will not reach us personally. Our right to follow our conscience and the teachings of our faith are under sustained attack, both from within the healthcare community and from without, in an aggressively secular culture untethered from morality.
If we don’t stand up, not only will other health professionals suffer harm and be driven out of healthcare, but also patients and communities will face needless and unfair limits on care.
No believer can stand above the fray
Regardless of how close the assault may be touching us personally at the moment, we need to stand up and speak out whenever we see an erosion of faith and conscience freedom.
In the 1930s, Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller at first welcomed the Nazi’s Third Reich. Eventually he learned that the state would countenance no competition from the church.
After emerging from seven years in Nazi concentration camps, Pastor Niemoller summed up in a poem the lesson he had learned so painfully:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
It’s only a matter of time before the battle reaches each one of us. We will do well, like Daniel, to “make up our minds” beforehand to stand firm.
Having yielded our lives—and livelihoods—to our Lord who suffered and died for us, we can resolve, as did Esther, “if I perish, I perish.” And then we need to speak out and make the most of our calling to engage “for such a time as this.”