Friday, August 21, 2009


The President recently had a telephone conference call with hundreds of leaders from the religious left to discuss the moral imperative of his healthcare reform proposal. So it’s only appropriate that we also look at this question, not from a politically biased point-of-view, but from a Biblical point-of-view.

The President was quick to use Biblical language like being our brother’s keeper, and referring to those with differing opinions as “bearing false witness” in his pitch to mobilize religious groups to take on his cause. (Whatever happened to separation of church and state here?) But nevertheless, let’s take a look at this issue without the political spin.

Jesus’ teachings called for “healing the sick,” caring for the “least of these,” caring for widows and orphans, and generally, caring for any disadvantaged persons who need help. This is the Biblical imperative. But there is a fundamental truth that cannot be overlooked without missing the whole point of Christ’s message: These instructions were addressed to free people, not to governing bodies. Jesus didn’t say, “Be faithful in your payment of taxes to Caesar so that Caesar can care for the sick.” He always addressed the people, because it was the responsibility of individuals to act out of genuine care and concern for others, not the responsibility of an impersonal government body.

The reason why we lead the world in healthcare is because our hospitals and healthcare institutions were founded, from the formation of our republic, by individuals and associations of free people –those who had willing hearts- who took Christ’s mandate personally to “minister” to the less fortunate. The minute a compulsory element is introduced into the equation the door opens for corruption and waste, and the very people we intend to help are, in the end, hurt by a corrupt and wasteful healthcare system. This is not theory. Just look around the world to the nations that are attempting this very thing.

Both right and left agree that healing the sick is a Biblical and moral imperative. We disagree, however, on the best way to administer the care. The left believes it should happen through a compulsory government controlled program, while the right believes it should be left to the private sector where individuals and free associations of individuals can come together to provide the care needed. In reality, the deficiencies of our present system reflect not a deficiency of government, but rather a deficiency in the community of faith, and to that end, I believe the government is justified in providing a safety net, but that safety net should be kept to a minimum, because of the waste and corruption inherent in a godless secular system.

The question is often asked, “What would Jesus do?”

I believe Jesus would encourage the private sector plan of administration because Jesus was always concerned mostly with the heart and motive of a people rather than their deeds. He would not be in support of a system that encourages people to pay taxes just to assuage their guilty consciences for not caring for their neighbor. He wants us to care for our neighbor from the heart.

We see this demonstrated even in our churches where individuals would rather contribute to missionary causes halfway around the world than go, personally, to a neighbor across the street who may be in need. Man looks upon the outward things, but God looks upon the heart.

So in the final analysis of examining this question, we see that it is the legitimate role of government to protect the people from unscrupulous business practices by insurance companies, but it is the role of free people, and free enterprise to care for one another. We cannot delegate this mandate that Christ has given to us. The responsibility is ours, not Caesar’s.

1 comment:

Keith Adams said...

Hey Bill, I did not realize till you invited me to comment on your last post that you had a blog where you solicited comments. So since you did not forward my comments about your last email, I figured I would post it directly. Just kidding ... I wasn't expecting you to forward them But any here they are.

Here is the deal as I see it. Jesus separated the sheep from the goats. He defined this not as individual people but as nations. It is a national responsibility to care for the poor, sick etc. The old Testament prophets challenged kings of all nations to do the right thing especially when it came to the care of poor, widows, strangers, the marginalized and the powerless. They addressed the powers and God judged them when they did not respond justly. Especially in a democratic republic it is artificial and insincere (IMHO) to separate the government and the people. "We the people" established the government. Therefore the failure of government to act justly, care for the poor etc, is the failure of the people. And the failure of the people is the failure of you and I. If you apply the same principle to abortion that you apply to healthcare you should be pro-choice.

Is the gov't the only solution. Obviously not, otherwise I would not be working so hard to help people in need and motivate God's people to help people in need. But it is the government, "We the People" , that is responsible for setting the tone of righteousness in a nation which is not limited to one or two issues, but a multiplicity of issues. It is the government's job in this nation to "promote the general welfare."

If indeed it is your personal responsibility or my personal responsibility to deal with these issues as "free people", let me ask you what you personally are doing? Have you opened a free health clinic for the uninsured? Do you preach personal responsibility to those you pastorally care for, and how many of them are paying for health care out of their own pocket for those in need in their community. Or better yet, and more biblical, how many people with signs on the side of the road have you, your flock, or the free people of America given cash to? That is what Jesus said to do, "give to anyone who asks." If not, how many hamburgers or meals have been purchased and given to that individual on the side of the road.

Part of the problem today, as I see it, is that we as Bible believing Christians are on the wrong side of issues relating to basic human rights and justice. We side with the strong over the weak. We side with the powerful over the powerless. We defend the cause of freedom to oppress through greed, instead of fighting for the freedom from oppression and basic economic fairness. We have too often allied ourselves with those we are called to prophesy to, and challenge to step up and do the right thing.

Anyway, Bill, you sent me this email without me asking for your opinion. So, I returned the favor. Thanks for your true desire to serve God and his people.