Well, actually the issue in this country is NOT about health CARE but health INSURANCE. Some would say I’m just playing semantics but there is a big difference. We already have health care in this country and have had it for quite a while. If you walk into any hospital in need of urgent care, you will not be denied simply because you cannot pay. We value human life in this country, even Christians who oppose universal insurance coverage. Before addressing the question at hand, it’s important to recognize that difference.
Many have asked me the question, “What would Jesus do?” Let’s explore that for a minute. What DID Jesus do? He was here on earth for around 33 years and had the power to heal anyone. Yet, upon His death and even after His ascension there were still sick people on the planet. He could have instantaneously healed everyone for all of eternity or at the very least he could have ensured some sort of health coverage for all people but He didn’t. We could wax eloquent all day as to why. Still, if He had then we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.
I’ve thought about how to answer this question without delving into the practicality of the matter and strictly addressing the spiritual aspect but the two are so closely tied (meaning, one leads to the outcome of the other), that it’s impossible to separate them. So with that in mind, we’ll walk through this both realistically and theologically.
I want it known, too that I’m speaking from experience. I have a pre-existing condition and was denied insurance coverage so I’m not just blowing smoke or being insensitive and unsympathetic. In fact, I do not currently have health insurance. Stories like mine are not being told. I have other Christian friends who are like me or have children with special needs (down’s) who are against this bill. I’m also not among the “wealthy” that I’ll mention later. I’m very possibly in the lowest tax bracket so I have no personal motivation financially for my opinion.
Is it terrible that health care costs are so high? Yes, but we live in a fallen world. Does that mean we should do nothing? Of course not. But again, government involvement is not the answer. There are tons of nonprofits and churches ready and willing to step in and help. It is our Christian calling and duty to do just that and the government hinders that mission by weakening our accountability and shifting the responsibility to a larger, less personal entity. It eliminates the relational component of benevolence that’s a vital part of spiritual growth. (ie. “I don’t need to give anymore. My taxes do enough to help the poor.”) Darren Duvall, a friend of my husband’s, had this to say about the relational deficiency of universal health insurance in respect to helping the poor:
“The net effect of supporting expansive social safety nets is that you don’t want the poor to be with us because you don’t want there to be poor. The means that achieves that admittedly noble end is the taking of taxes from people you don’t know and the delivery of those funds, plus whatever is borrowed from the Chinese, to other people you don’t know but believe you are serving in this manner as some sort of anonymous holy office with the Federal government as your proxy.
I’m not entirely sure how those people are supposed to grasp that you’re doing this for the glory of God. It’s not God’s name on the envelope that the check comes in, and there are as many progressive atheists and agnostics claiming credit for government largesse as there are progressive Christians, so who’s to be believed? I guess you can say, “The poor are being served either way, so shut up,” but given the remove from the people you’re namelessly, facelessly serving every payday by deduction, I question whether as a Christian paying your taxes is anything other than rendering unto Caesar, which doesn’t really get the same emphasis in the New Testament as actually serving the poor with your own two hands. And I’m absolutely sure that having a government entity handle the redistribution of wealth is not a lesson to the unchurched about how much God loves them. That doesn’t save souls, it ends up being a process intended to save incumbents, and that’s a rather petty process to try and drag God into, in my opinion.
Basically, the justification for demanding Christian support of government social programs strikes me as a dilatory and rather roundabout way of offloading individual responsibility for acts of charity onto the state. What’s more, it clouds the work that the people of God should actually be doing. I think charity has gotten a bad name, in the Rugged Individualist concept of the American character nobody wants to have to receive it and it’s seen as demeaning or damaging to self-esteem to need or receive charity. It’s so much neater and cleaner if they get a check in the mail like any other government contractor. But that is hopelessly impersonal, and service is always supposed to be personal and relational. Fine to support whatever you wish to support. Just don’t tell me that I have to support it as well.”
Practically speaking, there were and are already government programs in place to help with medical coverage. Incidentally, speaking of costs, these programs are nearly bankrupt. Why should we expect universal health insurance to be any different?
Some have referred to this as “free” healthcare. It is NOT free. You can’t get something for nothing save the grace of God. In fact, if anything this bill will INCREASE the cost of health care while simultaneously more and more people suffer financial hardship due to other factors facing our country right now (most, if not all, caused by government intervention). How is this any more ethical if people lose their jobs, homes, then subsequently face starvation?
Why do I believe this would happen? In order to pay for this universal health insurance, government will increase taxes (in particularly upon the “wealthy”). Officials would lead you to believe that the rich are greedy and that it’s their duty to help the poor. While some certainly ARE greedy, does this mean they should be compelled to pay for others’ health insurance? In my opinion, this is stealing. They work for their money too. What right do we have to take it from them?
Furthermore, why should we support a system that encourages others NOT to work? After all, the less you make, the less you pay and the more the government provides for you at the expense of the wealthy. In fact, depending on your salary, you may have more disposable income taking a lower pay grade. What incentive are we giving them to excel? Isn’t that a Christian virtue…to do your best at everything? To do everything to the glory of God?
The truth of the matter is that it’s those “greedy” that generate jobs in this country. What do you think is going to happen to their workers when their employers are forced to hand more of their money over to the government? The end result, decreased wages and job loss.
Am I suggesting that government is inherently evil? No, although I think our government is becoming more and more power hungry. My wonderful and intelligent husband had this to say:
“The government has the capability to be a great force for good. Unfortunately, it also has the capability to be a great force for evil. To the degree that we empower it for the one, we inescapably empower it for the other as well…and simply rely on the good intentions of those in power.”
I’d rather hedge my bets with the church and God’s people than hand over that responsibility to a government institution, let alone the loss of freedom of choice.
I’m not saying it’s unchristian to favor Obamacare or any other universal health insurance program. I have many friends who feel very strongly that it’s the right thing to do. They are fantastic people and I have no doubt that their heart is in the right place. I just resent the judgment of those of us that oppose this bill as being unfeeling, uncaring, and unchristian. That just simply is not true.
I welcome your comments.