December 14, 2017

Follow Up: Jesus and Health Care

One of our good readers, Rick, made some comments yesterday that I both reacted to and rejoiced in. In the end, I agreed with him that the discussion needed to be directed more toward our purpose here at Internet Monk — to promote a Jesus-shaped Christianity.

He wrote:

“…It was just that I didn’t see any of Christ or the cross entering into the discussion, which troubled my spirit a bit. It also seemed to me that intentionally bringing Christ and the cross into it could make for some healthy (and dare I say “unifying”?) discussion and maybe some wisdom in how to talk about this with people who believe differently than we do.”

I like that. Therefore, the goal of this post today is to “intentionally [bring] Christ and the cross” into our discussion about healthcare in the U.S.

One reason I don’t like to talk about politics is that it tends to overwhelm people’s faith. What I mean is that we don’t always know how to bring our faith in Jesus to bear on our political views. As a result, we have a lot of people who are more conservative (politically) than Christian, liberal (politically) than Christian, and if you examine things closely, in the end it’s really more about my convictions as an American than it is about living out my faith in Christ.

When it comes right down to it, of course, the Bible does not speak directly to the issue of how we provide health care to the people of the United States. The Bible doesn’t have anything to say directly about democracy, big or small government, the free market, insurance companies, or American political parties.

So, I simply want to know today (for the Christians who are commenting): how does your faith in Jesus shape your views on this issue?

  • If you look at Jesus first,
  • if you take time to think about the Story of the Bible and what it tells us about loving God and loving our neighbor,
  • if you consider what wisdom it gives us regarding God, life, people, nations, faith, finances, good works, and other matters related to faith,
  • if you think about the new creation that is coming and understand that what we do in this world is planting seeds for God’s new world to come,

then, how do such considerations shape your view and how should they shape our discussion and our contribution as Christians to a political issue like providing a good health care system for all people in the U.S.?

Comments

  1. Mike, I think you have raised a very valid point and I’m glad you are discussing it here. I was deeply troubled during this whole debate when I hear my Christian friends expressing strong political views (usually anti-Obama, anti-healthcare law) and they, somehow, seem to be stating it from a “Christian perspective.” They seem to wrap up in one giant burrito their politics and religion.

    I’ve worked in healthcare for more than 30 years. I’m presently the owner of a medical practice and am involved with all the ins and outs of the economics of health care. I don’t know if I can express here a good, concise answer to your question. I will say that I work in chronic pain and earn a lot less money than I could be earning in other situations, and I really think that my understanding of who Jesus is, is why I do what I do.

    But on a bigger scale, I’m not sure if God has a view on the best way to do healthcare. I don’t think He had an opinion on the Obama health care bill. I do know two things, disease is part of the fall and the Church’s role is to bring redemption to this world.both on a spiritual and physical level. So it is our mission to fight against all aspects of the fall, including disease. Curing cancer is doing God’s work. Alleviating suffering is doing God’s work.

    I will add one more disjointed statement and that is more than 50% of health care dollars in America are completely wasted. I see patients in the third world for $5 each. In America we have to charge $300 for the same service. I do think that something has to be done. The healthcare industry in America if full of parasites, who drain it for money. I will stop here because ironically I have to go see patients. But, maybe I will comment more with clearer thoughts later. Thanks for bringing it up.

    But as a ex-evangelical, it concerns me when all my evangelical friends on face book express hatred for Obama and his health care policies . . . in the name of Jesus.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      “But on a bigger scale, I’m not sure if God has a view on the best way to do healthcare. I don’t think He had an opinion on the Obama health care bill.”

      Exactly. Jesus Christ didn’t die on the cross in support of Obamacare. He didn’t die on the cross to attack Obamacare. He died on the cross because of man’s fall, the world is broken, and people are in need of a redeemer.

      As you said, “Alleviating suffering is doing God’s work.” Arguing for or against Obamacare isn’t.

      • However, one might argue either for or against supporting the Affordable Care Act, depending on whether or not you believe it will help alleviate more suffering.

        • Exactly right. One’s duty as a Christian is to responsibly use the authority one has to show love for one’s neighbor, including by using one’s authority to vote.

          But there are many good things in life that people disagree on how to prioritize. And that’s fine. A long healthy life is a good thing, but so is scientific discovery, and beautiful art and music, and the ability to spend lots of time with one’s family and friends, and working at an interesting job, and living in a safe neighborhood without fear of violence, and so on. Our ability to pick and choose among the many good things in life without feeling guilt about our choices is what Christian Freedom is all about.

          Governments facilitate these many good things, and are necessary for some of them, like public safety, but government involvement can also make it more difficult for people to pursue other good things. I’d rather live in a system that doesn’t mandate me to dedicate so much of my money and work towards maintaining an obscenely expensive health care policy covering services that I’ll never use, or often, am morally opposed to.

          I’d rather live in a society that promotes a culture of personal responsibility and gives me the freedom to pursue other things, even if it means the quality of health care available isn’t as good. I think there are much cheaper and less intrusive ways to provide basic coverage needs to the most poor than Obamacare, or our current system.

          • Also, whether a free-market system, leaving people with more funds to charitably direct for the care of the poor, would be better for the poor then a bloated system funded by tax dollars, which inevitably leads to corruption and many rent-seekers siphoning off money for themselves, is a factual question that cannot be answered without perfect knowledge of economics, psychology, sociology, political science, etc.

            To suggest that the Bible says anything about these types of questions is far more of a stretch than those who use it to address scientific questions. The only thing it tells us is no system can be perfect because fallen humans will sin and look to take unfair advantage of it.

  2. br. thomas says:

    Other considerations may be: How did Jesus involve Himself politically as recorded in the gospels? What did His message and His actions say about political involvement? And how was that lived out by the early church?

    • He confronted political opressors and told them what they were in truth. Snakes, hypocrits, those who lay heavy burdens on the people.

  3. David L says:

    When it comes right down to it, of course, the Bible does not speak directly to the issue of how we provide health care to the people of the United States. The Bible doesn’t have anything to say directly about democracy, big or small government, the free market, insurance companies, or American political parties.

    Exactly. So…

    Assuming I have access to excess funds (and we all do) do I.

    Invest in a growing business to allow more people to have jobs and be able to afford better health care?

    Build free clinics for the poor?

    Pay medical bills for the poor?

    Start up classes in churches and/or community centers to teach about how to live a healthier life?

    Lobby congress to tax the rich to pay for the poor’s health care?

    Say I’m a highly paid hourly worker. But only paid by the hour. Is it better for me to volunteer 10 hours a week in a free clinic or work an extra 10 hours a week and donate the money to the clinic? And does it matter if I like or hate my job?

    And on and on and on.

    As a pastor once said. He sure wished John had added a chapter on raising 3 year olds.

    I don’t think there IS a single answer that fits everyone.

    • David L says:

      Err. Paul, not John.

    • My answer to your question is simple — do what you think is best and that which you think you can wholeheartedly support as a means of showing Christ’s love.

      • CM, do you think that your response takes away from having a unified approach to issues that we are facing as a human species or add to the salt of life? I’m asking, but I’m always torn by responses like yours. While I would like to do what I believe is what Christ is calling me to do, oftentimes, I feel pressured to march together with others to take advantage of the “strength in numbers” concept. I often saw Jesus acting in small groups without a mob of supporters. While his audiences for his preaching often seemed large from time-to-time, he also did a lot of presenting in seemingly more intimate formats and spoke very individually to a number of people (like Jarius’ family in today’s reading).

        If each person in an orchestra played whatever they felt was the best interpretation of a piece of music, it would sound like cacophony, but when there is a director and everyone plays his/her interpretation, then it is cohesive music.

        Jesus is our conductor, for sure, but since he never said anything in particular about this conundrum we are facing, I’m torn whether it is better to follow one’s own conscience over following a group’s conscience in order to gain strength as a group.

        • To clarify, this is an issue for me regarding more than just this question…I struggle with group ethics vs. personal ethics greatly. I just took a class last year at CDSP online about Christian Ethics. I teach a lot of medical and ecological ethics in my secular high school science classes and I wanted to learn more about ethics within a Christian context. I had always been taught a more personal ethics system while the teacher was super-huge on group ethics. I was very challenged by this class – which is a good thing – I like to be challenged, but it was a difficult paradigm shift for me and one I still struggle with.

          CM’s statement above seems to imply following a more personal ethics, though I don’t want to mis-read anything or read into it something that’s not there. So I ask for further clarification – are you suggesting a more personal ethics over group ethics approach to politically charged issues or am I totally missing the point? (which is entirely possible – still very new to this whole blogging thing and trying to feel my way through)

          • No, this is not personal vs. group, because I believe part of gaining guidance for my personal ethic is being part of a community that helps form my ethic. I am not a free agent, therefore I seek counsel and guidance from my brothers and sisters, my family, my mentors, people of wisdom in my life. Sometimes we partner together in various group efforts. Sometimes we act by ourselves with their support, blessing, and prayers. Sometimes we work through disagreements about the best course.

            At any rate, it is not either/or.

          • Thanks for the answer…and I appreciate your “greyness” – I have so much trouble with corporate ethics because ultimately there is only me standing to be judged and I don’t believe saying “they told me it was ok” is going to cut it with God. I like how you worded the corporate ethics – very agreeable.

  4. As an outsider it is confusing to see the way Americans mix religion and politics. There is the official claim of separation of church and state and yet it seems like on the ground they are mixed a lot. So suddenly the gospel is all about a particular way of organizing your economic life and personal freedoms.

    It is almost as if we are looking at Christianity through a cultural and economic grid and so it hugely impacts the way scripture is viewed. I get perplexed and mystified that the gospel becomes about me looking after my own, and that others, no matter how weak, should be looking after their own and if they do not, tough luck. Its absolutely okay to invest billions in nuclear weapons, germ and chemical warfare, but to even think of helping out the working class poor with affordable healthcare is somehow heretical and a sign of the anti-Christ. We do not trust government with healthcare, but trust them completely in the decision to declare war on some place we never heard of and kill thousands of citizens. I see lots of Evangelicals in this camp.

    And on the other side there is an attitude that it is okay, even Christian to use state apparatus to engage in huge social engineering and coerce people into financing abortions, birth control and undermining generations of cultural values all with the moniker of being progressive and promoting personal freedom, that is freedom from self-responsibility. Freedom of religion becomes freedom from religion. And I see lots of main line Christians, like some of my own from an Episcopalian background here.

    Now someone can note that this is normal or inevitable to look at Christianity through a cultural and economic grid , and there is some truth to that. I think this is why we have to make a deliberate attempt to look at the good news and try to use it to interpret/critique our culture.

    So my question is this: Is God Democrat or Republican?

    And if he is neither, do we need to take a look at our influences to try to sort out genuine God influences from our own political impulses? And how do we do that?

    • Easy question. God is a Republican. His name is Ronald Reagan.

    • Ken, interesting post, because I feel as though sometimes I have to remind myself that Christ asks me to paint my ENTIRE life with his brush, not just the time I spend in church. And, for better or worse, my life includes political issues where I need to interact in a governing system with other people who may or may not agree with my Christ-like model of the world.

      When I hear the call to be Christian in my whole life, not just my church life…I hear this voice in the back of my head that says “well, except your political life”. Which is really excluding a large portion of our lives.

      So my question that I pose to this group of commentators is this…do we really paint our entire life with Christ’s colorful paintbrush or do we just paint everything except anything political in nature. See, I’m not sure I can do that…I’m not the best Biblical expert out there – far from it, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t make any exceptions when he asked us to follow him and live a Christ-like life.

  5. A few thoughts:

    1. Are my political views getting in the way of the Gospel? Am I defining the Gospel by my political views?

    2. Do we live in “Israel” or “Babylon”? Are we living in “a city upon a hill” or in a nation that has had some rather glaring contrasts between its high ideals and the blatant moral blemishes in its history?

    3. Am I judging another person’s Christianity by their political views? Do I love a Christian brother or sister enough to respectfully give them room to disagree with me on political issues, and give them the benefit of the doubt?

    4. Is the Constitution in its “original intent” or in any other sense, the equivalent of Scripture? Can we as Christians engage politics on the basis of real-politics (as it is, in contrast to what I think it should be), in a way that reflects the gospel?.

  6. … admin: I’m trying to go back to the first affordable-care post; it’s in my RSS reader, but following the link gives “error establishing a data base connection.” link looks reasonable: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/a-few-thoughts-on-the-affordable-care-act-decision-and-health-care-in-the-u-s. I noticed something similar yesterday.

    on topic: I don’t see that the Bible tells us how to deliver universal health care, it just says very firmly that we should do it, and God will be angry if we don’t. Big government/small government? Some things like cancer research and collecting statistics are best done at the national/global level, some things like much end-of-life care is best done as person-to-person, some like education and immunization drives is best done by local communities. Right on, “More X than Christian” is a big problem. Political dominionism is on the way to ruining organized religion by mixing up a bunch of stuff that doesn’t belong together. We should be able to tackle health care without confronting creationism, let alone theories of atonement.

  7. Rick Ro. says:

    I think some of the problem with the mix of politics and Christianity is the foundation that Jesus laid out for us, specifically that He had to die so that others (we sinners) could win. Extending that to our walk with Jesus, we are often asked to “die to self” in order that others can “win.” In fact, we’re even commanded to love others more than ourselves.

    Now if you try to translate that into politics, that wisdom and thinking totally breaks down. A politician who decided to sacrifice his own self to let those opposed to him win? UNTHINKABLE. Even seeking WIN-WIN is pretty much out of the question. Politicians by nature must be geared to WIN, pretty much at all costs. Sacrificing self for the gain of the other side…just not gonna happen.

    My own thinking is that we Christians must enter into any discussion involving politics with WIN-WIN in mind. Not WIN-LOSE. I should not be out to defeat those opposed to my view, I should be out to seek how BOTH of us win. In fact, I rejoiced a bit the other day when the immigration issue came up and I heard both camps claiming victory. Isn’t that the what politicians should seek, a place where all sides can stand up and say, “We won!”

    So…can we ever attain that with American health care? Can we, as Christians, show the rest of the nation how to seek WIN-WIN? Can we demand that our politicians seek WIN-WIN? What would WIN-WIN look like regarding this specific issue?

  8. Joseph (the original) says:

    i think we have here in this amazing country of ours a very unique chimera unknown at any other time in history: American Christianity…

    it is a syncretic political animal with token elements of religious tones to make it, well, unique…

    at this point in my life i happen to be uninsured. i have unemployed for 14 months. COBRA coverage was some crazy amount of more than $1,000/mo. and unemployment only pays $1,800/mo.

    i did enjoy the employment benefit my employer provided by sharing the cost of health+dental insurance. and i am very, very thankful my family, including myself, never needed it for something serious and/or long term…

    there is a peace-of-mind element to having a basic health/dental insurance policy that is both affordable & provides acceptable care. i have always had a higher deductible to help defray costs, but i always made sure my family was insured. now that i am divorced, going back to grad school & all my boys adults now, i have only myself to consider. however, after getting some quotes on insurance i am not sure i can even afford the most basic coverage…

    {sigh}

    and i am no where near the poverty level or without any options…

    i think we need to give heed to the helpless that do not have options. in biblical language it is the widows & orphans that had no visible means of support. and it is taking care of the least of these that James considers pure & faultless…

    Lord, have mercy… 🙁

    • Anecdote: I am employed, and payed well. I have insurance for my wife and I with a high deductible – in fact, I chose the second cheapest plan our company offered per month. I pay $400 a month, and my work pays $800. There are many, many months when I would rather just have the extra $1200 in my pocket.

      • Joseph (the original) says:

        thank you Jesus you have options that many Americans do not!

        insurance is only ‘worth’ it when it is needed. other than that it is an expense meant to provide peace-of-mind for those things that can happen that we could not afford to pay for when they do…

        insurance is a luxury item, but one that should be made available to all that do want to have a modicum of coverage. from all the posts either pro or con about this issue, we must deal with reality, not political or religious theory. we know the American Church & all its most sincere saints unable or incapable of providing insurance to those less fortunate than they. and then there is government that we know is not efficient, but they are capable of helping ‘my neighbor’ living in other parts of the country where i cannot…

        despite all ‘good’ intentions, whether motivated by Christian charity/conviction or governemental debates about how to help, the issue still looms. idealistic notions, regardless of where they come from, do not take care of anybody. now if the less efficient use of tax dollars actually goads the voting populace to act, or get more self-proclaimed Christians to do something about the uninsured, then even that is a positive & more than what seems to be happening now…

        Lord, have mercy… 🙁

  9. I have observed some confusing comments on IM over the time I have followed its discussions. There are times when I have seen the same person criticize a politician for talking about his faith and the next day lament that people don’t integrate their faith into their daily lives. So which is it, Integration or separation? I agree with the premise of this post that our faith is the center of our life and therefore should be a part of every aspect of our lives.

    So to answer the question put forth by CM here is my rational for my position on healthcare based on loving Jesus and loving my neighbor. I am a libertarian and believe in limited government because I don’t recall anywhere in the NT where Jesus or the Apostles tried to spread the Gospel via the government. Every teaching I recall talks about MY responsibility to my God, my family, and my neighbor. It speaks about me reaching into MY pocket and providing help, not reaching into the pocket of my rich neighbor. My needy neighbor will not see the love of Jesus or understand the Gospel by getting a monthly EBT credit from the government as readily as if they see the church providing for their needs and loving them in Jesus name. My wealthy neighbor will actually be hardened against the Gospel by my attempt to forcibly take his money whereas he may be drawn to the Gospel if he sees the church give of our own money to meet the needs of others.

    It isn’t the government’s job to spread Christianity, enforce personal morality, or make life fair for everyone. Although I do believe that the government can keep the peace and provide a safety net for the weakest and neediest among us. On the practical side I see that it was misguided government intervention that has created the local and state insurance monopolies that have made such a mess of our present system. The current law makes an even bigger mess, encourages government involvement in place of personal involvement, and therefore does not line up with my understanding of Christianity at all.

    • Does the government have any place in national defense? Or how about roads or highways?

      In both of those cases we allow government because they are beyond the ability for the individual to do the task. There are many things in life that require a group effort.

      Leaving it to the church to do it in effect will mean it never gets done. That is what America has presently done and we have 50 million uninsured people.

      I am not sure we can take the context of 13 people (Jesus and the apostles) and what they did and apply it directly to such a mammoth project as healthcare, where 1 diagnostic machine costs more than 2 or 3 of us will earn in a lifetime. Jesus and the apostles dealt with individuals and human faces. We are talking about 50 million people. When you get large numbers the idea of personal involvement just does not work. And if you are out here helping at whatever your favorite thing is, who will be working to provide for your family? It sounds good but the reality is often far different. And how is that different than what we are doing now?

      If you extend libertarian philosophy to its end it is each person for himself. That means government should stay away from policing, fire, national defense, highways, either that or we should be billed for each of those things.

      • I was attempting to explain my position on Obamacare, not necessarily give a complete definition of Libertarianism. But since you ask, I’ll expound a little.

        “If you extend libertarian philosophy to its end it is each person for himself.”

        No, that is Anarchy, not Libertarianism. Libertarianism is about limited government rather than no government. So yes, there are a lot of things that government does but: Let’s let federal government do only what State government can’t, Let’s let State government do only what Local government can’t, Let’s let government in general do only what private organizations can’t.

        “Jesus and the apostles dealt with individuals and human faces. We are talking about 50 million people. When you get large numbers the idea of personal involvement just does not work.”

        No? Let’s let the hospitals help the 50 million people, but let us help the individual who has trouble paying their hospital bill. That way we can deal with individuals and human faces just like Jesus.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      True, TPD, your needy neighbor may not see the love of Jesus or understand the Gospel by getting a monthly EBT credit from the government. However, they will be able to eat and feed their kids until they can get some decent work. I know it’s not the same as evangelism, but sometimes we are supposed to give without seeing any real return on our investment.

      And as for your wealthy neighbor, there is a reason why Jesus lamented that it is hard for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven. There is something about the accrual of wealth that makes a man feel entitled, because the wealth is his and he earned it. Being a follower of Christ is about sacrifice, about giving not until it feels good, but until it hurts. That’s the kind of radical thinking that typified Jesus’ teachings and life. If your wealthy neighbor can’t comprehend that, well…heaven is for everyone, but not everyone’s going there.

      • As I mentioned, I do believe in a governement “safety net.” But as for your philosophy of stealing from the rich to assure that everyone get’s there fair share; where do you find that in Scripture?

        • So if you believe in a government safety net (which I do as well) what about the fact that all of the worlds wealthiest nations do as well, and medical care is part of that net. That includes Japan, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Canada, France and Germany.

          What I find troubling about the American brand of libertarianism is how select it is. It seems like defense is ok, as are roads and infrastructure, but healthcare no.
          Canadian libertarians would add healthcare to the list in recognition that is is a larger project than individuals, and even individual states can handle.

          Left to the private sector you have situations like a friend of mine experienced when helping at a church in the US. He stepped on a rusty nail. Here in Canada it would be a trip to the Doctor, 3 minute consult, tetnus shot. If he had to pay, maybe $150.
          His bill in Washington state was $800. I would call that obscene.

          • I guess it depends what your idea of a safety net is. My idea is provision for those who truly CAN’T provide for themselves. Not “Everybody gets the following list of stuff free from the government…”

          • “…a larger project than individuals, and even individual states can handle.”

            I would question that statement. Some of the world’s best socialized medicine is provided by countries the size of individual US States. So if there would be socialized medicine here in the US, I would be in favor of seeing it implemented at state level rather than the Federal. The farther you remove the decisions being made from the people being served, the harder it is to properly serve the people. I don’t oppose Romneycare in the same way I oppose Obamacare.

          • In Canada healthcare is a provincial (state) responsibility, not federal. Federal tax dollars are fed back to the provinces, but the decision on healthcare and infrastructure are local ones. And I have to agree with you, even here, the feds can screw up cornflakes. Provincial governments have a lot more at stake so probably do a better job.

            There are some advantages. Costs can be kept down because purchases of Medical supplies are done in bulk.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        As far as your implication that I believe in stealing from the rich to assure that everyone gets their fair share, where do you find that in my initial response?

        • I understood your second paragraph to be saying “Jesus wants them to give and if they don’t we’ll make them.” Sorry if I misunderstood.

    • I would encourage you to examine some of your philosophical presuppositions, especially regarding the MY in the New Testament. It is difficult to find any theology of the individual in the New Testament – rather, I see the norm for instruction in righteousness being plural. It is the church – the body of Christ – that expresses the two great commandments, and it is only farther in that we find the power and grace to love farther out. The post-enlightenment individualism that pervades contemporary thinking doesn’t work well with the language of the NT.

  10. David Cornwell says:

    Jesus doesn’t tell us how to vote or what our political philosophy should be. But His presence with us through His indwelling Spirit should be informative to when we seek to bring healing to those in need. His ministry here was to bring healing. His teachings were about bringing the presence of His Kingdom into everyday living. His death was about self sacrifice, the giving of all for the healing (in a broad sense of the term) to each of us.

    In Luke 4:18, 19 Jesus tells us that his mission is to the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. This is about healing. When we advocate for our against policy, such as Affordable Health Care, how does the this inform us?

    Our own selfishness and preconceived notions will be the competitors seeking to divert us from this mission. Beware of the propaganda of schools of economic or political theory, because they can become the temptations and the idols that pull us away.

    The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness immediately preceded the proclamation of His true mission. Think about how this story might be re-written in contemporary terms. What pulls us away?

    Whoops– I need to make a pharmacy run now before it closes! With some more time I’d do some editing to these incomplete thoughts.

  11. Marcus Johnson says:

    In the previous post, I introduced one of the mandates found in the book of Leviticus which required field owners to harvest all of their crop except for the outskirts of their fields. The purpose was that the remaining crops were supposed to be reserved for the poor, who would come in and glean the remaining crops. These poor were not entitled to the crops because they knew the field owner or because they worked in his field. However, as much as the poor gleaners lacked any inherent right to the harvest, neither did the field owner. In the end, the harvest was a gift from God, and by allowing the poor to glean the fields, the field owner was, in effect, acknowledging that the field was God’s, to do with as He pleased.

    By the way, one of those gleaners, Ruth, became the ancestress to David, who became the ancestor of Jesus who, centuries later, was ministering in a governorship of the Roman Empire. Both the military and the governorship frequently took advantage of the people in Judea, occasionally forcing them into short details and miniature labor (see Simon of Cyrene, who was forced to carry Jesus’ cross). Rome was not a Christian nation, and these were obvious injustices imposed on the Jewish people. In spite of all of this, Jesus said, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

    So, all of this boils down to two questions that I have:

    1) Jesus: Our risen Savior and example of our faith, or a hippie liberal socialist who advocated for big government?

    2) Do we really see the money and/or resources that we have as ours to be protected from those who do not have, and if so, is that in keeping with the theme of sacrifice and communal giving that runs throughout the Bible (literally, starting with Genesis and moving to the last narrative in the New Testament)?

    If folks can answer, and when they do, please take into consideration what I was originally saying about Leviticus and Jesus’ statement; I would really appreciate that.

  12. Christiane says:

    Bringing Christ and the Cross into the discussion on Health Care . . .

    From ‘The Broken Body’ by Jean Vanier:

    “Jesus begins to make the passage

    from the one who is healer
    to the one who is wounded;

    from the man of compassion
    to the man in need of compassion;

    from the man who cries out: ‘If anyone thirsts let him come to me to drink,’
    to the man who cries out: ‘I thirst.’

    From announcing the good news to the poor,
    Jesus becomes the poor.

    He crosses over the boundary line of humanity
    which separates those whose needs are satisfied
    from those who are broken and cry out in need. ”

    The present system rewards the insurance companies, and provides for those fortunate enough in our society to have insurance . . . there is a ‘safety-net’ for the rest, with a lot of holes in it, and with much less safety than realized for our most vulnerable people . . .

    the new Health Care Law aims to protect more of those who are vulnerable. The strongest opponents to it were those who benefitted from profits and those that they funded as lobbyists in order to secure their support and votes.

    It is not too hard to see on which ‘side’ God’s justice falls, is it?

  13. C. S. Lewis points out that politics involves two aspects. The one is the Christian aspect which involves what goals are just and what means are lawful and the other is the question of what means are effective. The later is not a matter of Christian morality, but of ripe political experience. The idea of providing the best mental care possible to as many people as possible is a worthy goal. Whether Obamacare or any other political program will accomplish this is a matter of opinion. (I personally am rather cynical of large government programs and their ability to accomplish what they promise, but that is my personal opinion.) I think we need to be careful of confusing our personal political opinions with what Scripture teaches.

  14. My faith in Jesus has nothing to do with my thoughts on healthcare reform.

    What ‘we do’ as citzens of the United States, is a law issue. We, as Christians are free to think about it as we will, and vote about it as we will, regardless of our faith in Jesus.

    Notice how much time Jesus spent on reforming the Roman governing system and politics. Virtually zero.

    • As the Lord’s Prayer says, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

      Jesus’s message is actually emphatically POLITICAL. Not in the Democrat vs Republican sense of course, but his message was about bringing in God’s Kingdom onto this earth, where the first shall be last, and last shall be first. I think Chaplain Mike talked about this before when he mentioned NT Wright and Scot McKnight. The Gospel is about living out the actual kingdom here on this earth, in it’s fullest way. The Sermon on the Mount isn’t just some lovely list of virtues or merely a fuller iteration of the “Law;” it’s the actual way Christians must live.

      You cannot divorce politics from spirituality; these things go together. Karl Barth once quipped that the Christian ought to read “the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other.”

      Sure, Jesus said nothing about the political intrigues going on in Rome at the time, but there is no doubt that allegiance to Jesus was viewed undeniably as a political one in the eyes of both Christians and Romans at the time.

    • Also, what would you say about how things were in the Old Testament? Politics was undeniably tied up with God’s will, especially when it came to the Kingdom of Israel. Or how about Moses and the Davidic monarchy? Didn’t they rule in a political manner while serving as spiritual leaders? Even the criticisms by the Prophets, such as Jeremiah, Amos, and Isaiah, were all political to some degree. Especially Amos, he was very critical of the wealthy in Israel. Not to mention the Year of Jubilee. How would you see that? Cancellation of all debts and returning of all property to its original owners? Isn’t that emphatically political/economic? Yet it was mandated by God!

      You cannot be Christian and simply hold any political identity. I’m not saying Jesus was a commie or anything, but the Bible definitely has a political message/

    • Steve, I could not disagree more. Everything I do and think about I do as a person “in Christ.” Your position can easily lead to the kind of Pharisaism that Jesus condemned — rejoicing in my righteous position while treating other people like manure.

      • Really?

        Point me to where Jesus was political and show me what he did to remedy the wrongs of the Roman rulers of the day.

        The Romans were the Nazi’s of Jesus’ day and he did nothing to right their wrongs. He had MUCH bigger fish to fry.

        • Steve, you want to read NT Wright. He is a New Testament scholar/historian. He would maintain that Jesus was crucified because he WAS political.

          • Jesus was not out to change government, or stamp out slavery, or grant full rights for women, or eradicate poverty, or feed the poor, or throw out the foreign, unjust rulers of the day. He didn’t do any of that other than the odd miracle now and then to point to who is really was.

            Don’t you think he could have worked on all those things? Even snapped his fingers and revamped all of that? He even said, “you will always have the poor with you…but me you will not.”

            Jesus left it up to us to live in and care for this world.

            We ought work against injustice and evil. But we have very different ideas on how to best do that. Politics is a two kingdoms issue. We can disagree on the best way to run our government(s) without branding others as not “real Christians”.

          • I believe Wright, is wrong.

            Jesus was crucified because he WOULDN’T get political. he would not stand up to the Roman govt. and therefore he lost the support of many who wanted a political savior. And he exposed the hypocrisy of the religious leaders.

            The cross was always the goal. Not fixing this place.

          • Rick Ro. says:

            Hmm…not having read Wright’s argument, I would respond as Steve does by saying Jesus was killed because Pontius Pilate was political, not because Jesus was. In fact, when Jesus headed into Jerusalem everyone thought he was going to be “political” and take on the Romans, but instead he virtually ignored the political landscape and did nothing but hammer his own team’s smug self-righteousness “religiosity.”. What did Jesus in was his taking on the religious establishment, not the Roman government. The politicians only got involved once the Jewish establishment had had enough of Him.

          • Aaaaaaaaaaaargh says:

            Well, Steve, I believe that Wright is right. (Get it?)

            What specifically are you disagreeing with in his conclusions? In proclaiming an upside-down kingdom, Jesus was making an emphatically political statement. Don’t worship that guy on those coins, but worship only God. Don’t put your trust in the political or religious hierarchies that are only out to preserve their own tenuous claim to power. The religious leaders were part of the establishment, so denouncing them WAS political. And if you read Ched Myers and similar thinkers, Jesus’ refusal to take up arms was itself a radically political act.

            There probably isn’t a lot of overlap on our bookshelves, but it’s obvious that a lot of how we put our faith into practice depends on how we interpret the cross. I would agree with half of your final statement, but amend your conclusion thus (sorry that it’s not quite as rhetorically tidy):

            The cross was always the means to fixing this place.

  15. As a Christian, am I allowed to advocate allowing a third party organization to take other peoples’ resources against their will in order to give the funds to a super organization (government) to distribute to the needy in an inefficient way and to justify this misappropriation as “Christian charity”?

    Nowhere do I find scriptural support for dealing with governmental good works, but there is plenty of admonitions for taking personal, and corporate (Church) action to relieve the suffering of the less fortunate. It seems to me that choosing the most expeditious method of care is to be good stewards of our resources.

    What did Jesus do? He healed the sick and raised the dead. What did the disciples do? Much the same, but to a lesser degree. What are WE to do? Search our hearts and then to do “justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God”. Political action is just a substitute for this.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      +1

    • Tommy Farrell says:

      ” allowing a third party organization to take other peoples’ resources against their will in order to give the funds to a super organization (government) to distribute to the needy in an inefficient way and to justify this misappropriation as “Christian charity”?”

      I think in here we can see the problem of the whole debate. This is a terrible definition of socialised care for a Christian to use!

      – Firstly, taxes should not be assumed as taken against our will (‘give to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s). Christian should be holding their resources much less tightly than that. That there is a default opposition to any and all taxes is an Ideological rather than Christian belief.

      – Secondly, the underlying assumption is that trusting in free market economics (the efficient allocation of resources through individual selfishness) is hailed as the clear and obvious solution to all economic questions. Christians should be wary of allowing fallen human beings free reign in a market – particularly one providing an essential service like health care. The US system is a perfect case study in the failure of free markets to allocate resources efficiently. Why is this so hard to see? Ideology trumps reality, again!

      • Suzanne says:

        I totally agree Tommy F. I think the free market is great…to a point. I can’t understand why so many Christians, though, see it as some benign entity that will, given free reign, always do the right thing, especially since it’s basic premise is built on selfishness and having winners & losers. Since we clearly live in a fallen world, I don’t understand how people think this will be.

        Jesus also clearly stated that we should give to Caesar what is his. This does not sound to me like a statement against taxation per se.

        My Facebook feed was filled with some of the most foul vitriol I’ve ever seen after the Supreme Court decision, and everyone was from someone who claims to be Christian. I’ll agree that the healthcare plan isn’t perfect, but to claim it is going to take away our freedom of religion seems a bit ridiculous to me.

        The reactions of many Christians to this court decision has me, once again, wondering if I have any interest in being associated with the church.

    • Oscar, I would suggest that you are looking at things through a very American-centric lens. There appear to be enough Christians and churches in the US to pull off what you are suggesting (although, left to their own, I believe that American Christians and churches would fall vastly short of meeting the real need in terms of alleviating human suffering). Let’s say, however, for the sake of argument, that in 50 years only 5% of the US population identified themselves as Christian and that they were mostly low income people. Would you still argue that relieving the suffering of the less fortunate should be an individual and church responsibility? Would you stick to your guns even if it was plainly obvious that the level of human suffering was increasing dramatically?

  16. That’s the trouble with left leaning and right leaning Christians. Political gospels.

    NO POLITICAL GOSPELS!

    You alienate half your church.

    I’m very blessed to have a pastor that understands this, and that is why we are approx. half liberals and half conservatives in our congregation.

    The gopel is far too important to align it politically with either party. As Christians we are free to act politically as we see fit.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Agreed. At my church, I teach an adult Sunday school class. Anytime I hear a discussion drifting toward political opinion I immediately stop it. Political opinion has no place in God’s house (my opinion); too much chance to alienate fellow believers. It’s hard enough maintaining Christian unity WITHOUT politics in the equation. Throw politics in the mix and … Shudder!

  17. I agree wit h Oscar and Steve. I believe in the separation of church and state. In past posts I have seen people here criticize Fundamentalists for trying to compell the state to do their will.. Mike you are doing the same. This is a secular government. It provides for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The rest is up to you. Yes there should be a safety net for the trully incompetent. I give thru my church to social services for the local needy, then I am taxed to give more for many who could get out and work for themselves. If you think this is unchrist. . Remember what Christ said about, Corben.en, that’s your problem

    • I meant, if you think this is unchristian, that is your problem. Remember what Christ said about,’Corben.” I get the fealing that if I don’t support the government taking care of all problems from the cradle to the grave, I am not a true Christian. Remember what I said about salving your conscience!

    • I meant, This isn’t unchristian. We separate church and state. Some of us do not believe that government should take care of us from cradle to the grave. That is not unchristian, just common sense. Again don’t force other people to pay for something they don’t believe in, do it yourself.

  18. In the commandment “thou shalt not steal,” God gives us the right to own personal property. I do not believe the government has the moral authority to take that away. Jesus also calls his disciples to radical generosity. When the government compels you, it isn’t generosity at all. I think if the government quit deciding it knows how to spend our money better than we do, then it might provide its citizens a chance to actually practice virtue.

    Healthcare, however, is not exactly on the same playing field as, say, painting over graffiti or giving college scholarships. These days it seems darned near an essential like education, emergency responders, and national defense. When there’s too many wounded travelers and not enough good samaritains, perhaps the government should step in to systematize a more practical solution in order to lift the burden off whoever is getting stuck with the bill.

    If government does nothing, hospitals continue to treat those who can’t afford it (thank God!), and the price gets passed to the rest of us who can. If the government intervenes, perhaps the cost can be a bit more evenly distributed? I mean, regardless of how little we trust them, it is remotely possible…

    Personally, I know so little about politics because I don’t feel I can trust any of the information sources.

    Following the example of Jesus, I think Christians should do what they can to help those in need. The question is, should the government legislate and enforce Christian ethics? (I know, this is a two edge sword…)

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Absolutely right, Miguel, government mandates and taxes are definitely not “generosity.” However, even if we are allowed to own our possessions, are we supposed to hold onto them so tightly that it impacts the spirit of giving? Even if the government compels us to submit to a tax, shouldn’t the Christ-follower respond to the mandate Jesus gave in Matthew 5:39-42: “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

      Yeah, the federal government is not a Christian institution (and every time someone tries to claim that it is, I cringe in revulsion). That doesn’t mean that we have to abandon the spirit of giving. Besides, all of our possessions are, in turn, gifts from God, right?

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Obviously this is not as black and white as ‘what is the action, pro or con, that is most in harmony with the Gospel’. What I find frustrating in all of this (not just here, in general) is the idea that to be against one law/group of policies is to be against the core idea of caring for the poor and sick. We have limited our options too much if it is one or the other and not finding the best possible solution. If I belived that this Act would actually, truely care of those weakest in our midst, I can’t see where there would be a second thought on the issue. I honestly see this a step that will, in the end, hurt more people than it would ever help. I think healthcare reform is a good idea. I just don’t think this is good healthcare reform.

    • A lot of great ideas and good intentions in this world have gone very badly.

      I do see the desire to totally revamp things that just need a bit of reform, as utopianism. And it seems to be in vogue.

  20. Does it seem curious to anyone other than me that evangelicals are generously committed to the poverty reduction work of Samaritan’s Purse and other overseas aid missions, while being uncharitable to the poor at home? Medical missionaries abroad have been supported for generations, but look at the squabble over health care for the poor right here in America.

    Evangelical leaders – the late Chuck Colson comes to mind – have argued the church has been fighting poverty longer – and better – than governments have. But the church is not the only institution that understands human need. And the government is not holding the church from acts of mercy. But things are going in reverse, as a record number of Americans – almost 50 million – are in poverty. It begs the question, whether the alleviation of suffering depends on the abilities of our churches, or whether our churches have the mission of Jesus truly at heart. The church hasn’t been crowded out of the compassion business, it left on it own accord. The narrow Great Commission mandate means they have created parachurch spin-offs – secular business models – to perform the mundane tasks of mercy the church no longer deems integral to saving lost souls. Having contracted out the incarnational presence of Christ in a suffering world to parachurch proxies, the church’s ‘works of mercy’ no longer emanate from a community of disciples, but from non-profit businesses supported by volunteerism. But if mercy to a suffering world is not the mission of the church, then why should Christians support it by alternate means?

    • Suzanne says:

      Amen. I hear this all the time. “If the government would just get out of the way, churches could manage all the charity work”. Poppycock! Our church struggles to make budget. How in the world could they pay the healthcare costs of even 10 people? They have trouble coming up with the money to pay the church worker’s benefits.

  21. Mr. Poet says:

    Jesus did not send His disciples, including Matthew the tax collector, after the rich young ruler to confiscate the money and property that He told the rich young ruler to distribute to the poor. When we as the Church advocate the redistribution of wealth by force of the government, well, that’s what we’re doing.

    In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the character that is overlooked is the innkeeper. In modern times, most Christians want, as leat rhetorically, to act as a Good Samaritan…until the innkeeper needs to be paid. Think about it. If you see a person dying on the side of the road, then you, hopefully, would stop, provide first aid, and either get the person to a hospital or wait until first responders arrive. But what if you had to take the person to the hospital and then pay the entire bill for the person’s care? Our health care debate centers around who will pay the innkeeper.

    Paul taught that God loves a cheerful giver. Paying for health insurance, whether out of your own pocket or through an employer, so that a pool of resources is available to care for others: that is not giving. Neither is paying taxes so that others may have health care.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful my mother has Social Security and Medicare; that my disabled friends receive disability checks and subsidized health care. But that is not godly charity.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I’m actually more worried about the worst case senerio here: resources being taken and never really given to the poor. I do agree with you on the other, but even if I didn’t, I still don’t think this will really work.

      We lost my nephew to Leukemia several months ago. He was on two or three different private insurance policies and still qualified for Medicare. My concern is that he private insurance companies are going to be so hard pressed that they go out of business and the next generation like my nephew will only have he option of Medicare with it’s ‘rationed services’. There has to be a better way.

    • Why cannot corporate giving and/or a system in which a government elected by the people imposes collective and corporate giving, be godly also? You seem to be arguing that only individual charitable giving is godly. I would disagree. Jesus also told us to render under to Caeser. And in the OT, Jubilee was precisely about the redistribution of wealth to prevent an uneven accumulation of wealth by a few. What is more godly, helping one person individually and possibly stretching your personal resources to the breaking point in doing so, or creating a system in which many are helped by a government program through small taxes paid by many? I don’t think we can argue with certainty that one is in line with our faith and the other not.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Mr. Poet: Three points to make. Keep in mind, that I am not questioning the actual efficiency of ACA (which I think has some serious issues), or whether the government should be in the role of enforcing Christian ethics (it shouldn’t):

      1. Echoing John’s statement about the OT, Levitical law mandated that field owners leave the outskirts of their fields unharvested, so that the poor could come and glean the remaining crops. It was a law, and it was an enforceable law, but would we call that an instance of the government forcing people to redistribute their wealth?

      2. This idea of equating ACA with “forced redistribution” is a little hyperbolic. However, if you want to go there, I have to ask, if by “forced,” you mean you’re asked to do something you don’t want to do, then I have to ask, why don’t you want to do it? Jesus commanded that we take care of each other, and the early church shared everything they had, so why shouldn’t Christ followers rejoice at the opportunity to give so that others can have the health care that they desperately need?

      3. If our giving isn’t cheerful, is that really the fault of the government, or is that the fault of our selfish instincts, in which we horde our possessions and refuse to share?

      • Mr. Poet says:

        So you want to be told what to give by the government, instead of by God?

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        I definitely don’t. I also don’t like traffic laws or stop lights, especially when I’m in a hurry (ehich, by the way, seems to be all the time lately). But part of being in a society means that I have to occasionally subject myself to the rule of law. Paul is pretty clear on that in Romans 13.

        However, just because we are compelled to give through our taxes, doesn’t mean that we cannot approach paying our taxes with the same spirit of giving in which we would voluntarily donate. Jesus’ statement in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:39-42) is a great principle to follow when we are compelled to give, even more so than the “Render unto Caesar” statement.

  22. Immediately when I read this post, I thought of two of Jesus’ healings: first, the woman who was bleeding, and second, the man blind from birth. In the former case, the scripture tells us the woman had spent all her money on physicians to no avail, but Jesus healed her, breaking through a system that had bankrupted and rejected her; in the latter, the pharisees sought to lay blame on the man or his parents, but Jesus simply healed him for God’s glory, shattering all attempts at self-righteousness and self-justification.

    If we are informed by Jesus and the gospel, we cannot escape the requirement to help and heal others regardless of their status; where there is need, we are to meet it with the compassion of Jesus our Master.

    We may disagree about how to heal others or the best system for providing healthcare. I have no problem with that debate when both sides accept the premise that it is our Christian duty to help those in need. But what troubles me is that many Christians seem so untroubled by the prospect of leaving millions without insurance or access to healthcare. How can one have a rational conversation about a real problem and real solutions based on our understanding of our faith when one side won’t even accept a basic premise inherent to that faith?

    It’s very discouraging.

  23. StJohn117 says:

    I’ve read the comments to this point and have a few thoughts: First, let me start by saying that I really haven’t given the healthcare argument a great deal of thought, What I have seen are two extremes either A. No, no health care because the poor, sick, etc have earned their lot or you have B. Well, subsidized health care is what Jesus would want, therefore, government should do it.

    I’m not really convinced by either argument. For A. Guess what? Jesus commanded that we take care of the poor and needy. B. It’s a leap for me to say that government should be doing this from point A. To me, it’s a non sequitur because those in the B camp have yet to prove to me why this is so.

    Likewise, I’m left to ask those that believe that the church isn’t able to do this… why? At the risk of presenting a false dichotomy, I’m going to take a slight variation of the Stephen Colbert position: Either we’re going to have to pretend that Jesus didn’t mean what he said about the poor and he’s just as selfish as us, or we’re going to have to come to terms with the idea that, yes, Jesus meant what he said and we just don’t want to do it and that is a problem. I’m also going to recognize that the unemployment rate is very high, so I’m not proposing that we all just throw money at the problem. I propose it be a combination of both money and time and that proportion be up to the individual.

    Ia that to say that I’m in favor of repealing Obamacare? I think in its present form, it’s a bloated mess. However, I’m not as naive to say “Let them buy insurance over state lines! That will solve the problem.” I don’t think so. It’s still expensive. I think that perhaps a small version of this bill should have been passed.

    Is there flawed logic in here? Probably. I blame my ignorance on the matter. And this is where again, I’m more asking question rather than making hard and fast statements. I want to know what is stopping the church from doing this. Likewise, I don’t like the idea of government completely handling health care as I’m not sure we can afford it in our present state. That doesn’t excuse us from what our position should be.

    Hopefully this makes some sense and maybe someone could tell me where I have erred.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      You’ve articulated very well where I think I am with this myself! Congrats, and thanks! I find myself asking questions and not sure of the best/right answer. Your A and B “camps” are very much how I see things, too.

  24. One might compare Obama to the Good Samaritan who pays for medical care for the man robbed on the way to Jericho. Or perhaps he is the one of the robbers!

    It’s a bit like the government confiscating food supplies during times of civil emergency, then rationing it back to you (and everybody else, beginning with themselves). One doubts that our leaders will ever give up their first-class healthcare. If a governor needs a heart transplant, he jumps the queue ahead of all the economy-class riffraff.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      I’m sure someone can make a good argument for that, Doris, but I think CM is trying to redirect the focus of this discussion off of Obama and earthly powers. Instead, the focus seems to be more on what Jesus wants from us in this situation. How do we relate to the poor, the rich, the government, and private insurance companies as Christ-followers? It doesn’t look like your post really answers this question.

      • Our government has become a Beast. It whispers soothing promises that no one need lack for food or medical care, but at what cost? Only our precious freedom. Some say that freedom is worth nothing to a starving man, but this is the atheistic doctrine of Marxism. We are not just animals, to be fattened and cared for by government overseers.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        Still missing the point, Doris. Your post still is focused on the government’s role and what the government should do, not on our role as Christ followers and what we should do. Anything to say on that?

  25. Ichabod says:

    Parables. “Well certainly the Bible says we are to care about the poor… But there’s a fundamental question on the meaning of ‘fairness’… I do not believe in wealth redistribution, I believe in wealth creation.” As long as high-profile evangelicals like Rick Warren preach the utopia of capitalism, we might as well just write the parable of Lazarus and Dives out of the NT.

  26. Jesus told us to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s AND to God what is God’s! In this statement Jesus affirms that we as Christians are citizens of two realms: The Kingdom of Heaven and the government that we find ourselves under. In a democratic republic which is what we are, the people are the real rulers of government. Therefore Jesus is telling us to take our responsibility as a self-governed nation seriously and let the King’s values guide us in all of our government decisions. Clearly for a Christian one’s responsibility to the Kingdom of God comes 1st but that does not mean that we don’t have a responsibility to our government. That would be like telling our wives and our kids my responsibility to God is 1st so I’m not going to do anything for you! This would clearly violate the second commandment which is what we do when we Christians assume a passive position toward our responsibility to government. God’s rule is over everything (including government) therefore it is the responsibility of every Kingdom citizen to bring to bear on government and all of society all principles of the Kingdom! We must look at each candidate for office through the lens of the Bible and then make a decision that for which we know we will be accountable to the King!

    To a more specific point about what is happening right now in our country…Obama Health Care. I believe that this plan is fundamentally against God’s principles. Here’s why:

    1. God’s who Kingdom operates on the basis of free will. He values every person’s choice to do as they please and help those that they desire and not others. Paul said that one should give as he has purposed in his own heart to give. The principle of helping those who need healthcare is Biblical but the method of coercion is not. Love is not real love unless it is freely given! What joy is there in receiving a gift that is begrudgingly given? Jesus is King and people should give and help as He instructs them not because it is the law of the land. Obama care is really legalism…Since it is not probable for every person to have the right attitude of the Kingdom concerning giving and help others, Obama care seeks to mandate legalistically the right thing–helping others with the wrong methods. In this way it seeks to be in the place of God. It does this in many ways but for sure when it forces good people to violate their conscience and provide abortion and abortion contraceptives with our money.

    2. The Bible clearly states that help for those in need is to come at the lowest levels of culture available. a) the family has the 1st responsibility b) the church is next(spiritual family) and Paul again gives us direction about this when he tells Timothy who is a real widow that the church should care for. She must be too old to marry, one who has been devoted to good deeds, and has no children to care for her. Then Paul says that the church should step up to the plate–not government.

    3. If the people have no family and no church to care for them, maybe they should find one and if the government wasn’t meeting all of the needs in society maybe people would be more likely to come to the church for help and then the church could get involved. God gives an order of responsibility I believe for a reason. When people are cared for from RELATIONSHIP instead of governmental indifference to people’s REAL needs (love, accountability, belonging) the people end up being able to take advantage of the system and thereby hurting both the system and themselves. If on the other hand, we used the Bible pattern for caring for those in need, abuse would be greatly decreased and people could truly be helped instead of being made less by handouts.

    Let’s return to Bible Care!!!

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Um, that would be a perfect plan, George, except for a couple obvious problems:

      1. God’s who Kingdom operates on the basis of free will. He values every person’s choice to do as they please and help those that they desire and not others. Paul said that one should give as he has purposed in his own heart to give. The principle of helping those who need healthcare is Biblical but the method of coercion is not. Love is not real love unless it is freely given! What joy is there in receiving a gift that is begrudgingly given? Jesus is King and people should give and help as He instructs them not because it is the law of the land. Obama care is really legalism…Since it is not probable for every person to have the right attitude of the Kingdom concerning giving and help others, Obama care seeks to mandate legalistically the right thing–helping others with the wrong methods. In this way it seeks to be in the place of God. It does this in many ways but for sure when it forces good people to violate their conscience and provide abortion and abortion contraceptives with our money.

      The federal government is not a Christian institution (despite the efforts of many to pretend that it is). Therefore, the standards of Christian ethics do not apply to them as it does to those of us who have accepted salvation and committed to the mission of the church. In several places throughout the epistles, Paul suggests that, for the sake of a civil society, we as citizens may need to defer to the mandates of our governing authorities. Obamacare (i.e., the ACA, can we call it by its actual name, please?) cannot be legalism, since that implies that the legislation is intended to curry God’s favor; it is not.

      2. The Bible clearly states that help for those in need is to come at the lowest levels of culture available. a) the family has the 1st responsibility b) the church is next(spiritual family) and Paul again gives us direction about this when he tells Timothy who is a real widow that the church should care for.

      I’m not sure where you found the Scripture that suggests that the church was supposed to privilege people within the church; can you point that out for us? I know that Paul did direct Timothy to recognize the needs of his church community, but can you point out where that was supposed to take precedence over the needs of the greater community? Also, the cultural dynamics of the family, the church, and the greater community in the churches to which Paul and Timothy ministered are significantly different than those in which we live today.

      3. If the people have no family and no church to care for them, maybe they should find one and if the government wasn’t meeting all of the needs in society maybe people would be more likely to come to the church for help and then the church could get involved.

      Now, before we get into acknowledging that, often times, church communities do not even recognize the needs of their own members, let’s consider how condescending that idea is to these families who are not believers. “Sorry you need surgery, but if you came to church, then we would help you.” Isn’t the entire idea of missions centered around the idea that Christ followers go out and engage the world, rather than waiting for people to discover a church? Imagine the church-run homeless shelters saying, “Before you get some soup, you have to put on a tie and come to our worship service.” Sure, for people who are already within a church community, it does not seem like an imposition, but wow, how belittling is it for someone outside of the church who is in desperate need to hear that from a professed Christ follower!

  27. I keep reading here about how charity and support should be left to the individual. Ignoring the distrust of government, what I wonder is simply how does leaving 50 million people without healthcare (except for the emergency room) an expression of agape? Does it show love to our fellow humans to demand that they be incredibly ill and perhaps dying before they go see a doctor? How well does the church take care of all the poor when it comes to healthcare? Is the gospel of Jesus being preached? Or is it the gospel of Ayn Rand?

  28. Chaplain,

    As a late-comer to this discussion and as a young man, I really like how you have been approaching this. My views on the health care issue have shifted since I saw what happened to a friend of mine who had an accident without health insurance. So many of our people are just one accident away from bankruptcy and destitution. It needn’t be so.

    Health care was never meant to be a free-market capitalistic venture. To make it so is to make it a predatory industry. Health care is like law: it is corrective and reparative; it is not supposed to create wealth, only to restore what is broken (at least in theory).

    Civilized countries should recognize this and set up appropriate means for people to afford health care.

  29. Dennis Prager is dicussing this topic, right now:

    http://den-a.plr.liquidcompass.net/player/flash/audio_player.php?id=PRAGIR&uid=610

    A very good program…no matter what side you are on.

  30. Mr. Poet says:

    The irony occurred to me tonight: if state Medicaid rolls are expanded, and if the majority of people who do not qualify for Medicaid buy insurance as the government wishes, then non-profit ministries which provide health care to the poor (such as Cross Over Ministry) may no longer be able to operate under their charters. That is, openly evangelical health care providers that charge nothing to the poor will be run out of business! I suppose that is not one aim of the ACA: to make the Almighty State the provider of all charity.

  31. Brettongarcia says:

    Jesus healed the sick and helped the poor. And he told his disciples to “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10.37). That in itself would seem final enough.

    Would Jesus have supported a government that healed the sick, through even mandatory taxes? Jesus told us that we should “give unto Caesar” what is his; Paul noting that our authorities and governors do God’s work.

    And should taxes play a part in this? Peter tells us that there was a yearly tax levied by the temple; presumably to help pay for its expenses and its works – like helping the poor and the sick. While Peter tells us that Jesus paid that tax.

    It is often claimed that the new government Affordable Care Act will not help the sick, more than current religious programs. But note that a Harvard study said that tens of thousands of lives every year would be saved by the then-current version of the bill, over and above what is currently saved by existing secular and religious programs combined.

  32. I’ve been gone a while and not reading my email regularly… interestingly, I’ve been LIVING this discussion while separated from it online. I’ve been in parts of the world where mindsets and worldviews differ dramatically from ours and with family members whose lives/medical conditions make this discussion very real.

    I do have serious problems with the practice of twisting the biblical narrative to support our political prejudices and I see it done by people in almost every spectrum of political discussion, conservatives, liberals, libertarians, communists, etc.

    The fact is that only by twisting scripture can we attribute hardly ANY political ideology to Jesus. Seriously, did he support slavery? I prefer and am inclined to say, “no” to that, but I can’t know that from anything he said. Did he support any expansion of personal freedoms by political means? Did he promote government intervention in any aspect of social life? Did he ever, in any way, imply that “fixing” anything on this earth is what our life–focus, energy, resource expenditures–should be about?

    The heat generated by these discussions is more often a distraction from what our objective should be in this world–knowing and loving God, drawing people to our creator, redeemer, sustainer–and marks a victory by the enemy. When one is teaching in other parts of the world amidst government persecution or oppression, abject squalor, and a total absence of a historical sense of God, discussions like America’s healthcare bill come to seem pretty trivial and watching brethren attack one another over disagreements regarding it are quite disheartening.

    If the time before the end of the world is extended long, America will fall just as every other nation ever created by man has fallen. This is the way of this world. Our kingdom will remain forever and we are not dependent upon the health or stability of any earthly kingdom for our lives; we need to stop looking to any national system to sustain us or fulfill our NEEDS–they can’t do it. And to the extent our wants differ from our needs, our focus is distorted.