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.