God is concerned with Health Care.

By Joe LaGuardia

This month will be an important one as Congress will debate healthcare reform.  Each side will sharpen their rhetorical skills and crunch numbers with stats and polls.  In the midst of all this hoopla, it is my hope that Christians are prepared to voice their convictions from a strong moral foundation that is both biblical and godly.

I must tell you that I deliberated whether to write on this issue; after all, there is no unifying opinion on healthcare in America, let alone in the Church.  With all of this talk about healthcare though, I can’t help but to think that Christians should gain some sense of what God might have in mind for reform, even if they can’t agree on particular policies.  So, here are several things I think you should consider when coming up with your own ideas about healthcare:

First, we must consider that the healthcare debate reaches into the very heart of diverse worldviews in the American public sphere.  One worldview, for instance, champions free markets and the rugged individual.  Everyone earns his own healthcare, presumably from an employer.  Government should leave well enough alone and let the free market divvy up the benefits that each individual gains.

In essence, the private market will allow competition to blossom in the face of a large number of consumers.  The forty-five million people who are uninsured should compete for jobs that offer healthcare plans, rather than have the rest of America foot their bills.

Another worldview sees things from a more corporate, or systemic, perspective.  Each individual is not an isolated being, but is connected to the community at large.  People are interdependent upon a web of care.  When one cannot afford healthcare, everyone suffers.  Each person is accountable to one another, even if it means sacrificing some tax breaks in order to enlarge healthcare options via a government public-option program.

Second, it would be wise for us to examine our values pertaining to economics and social justice.  Again, there are two sides to this coin.  Some value economic diversity and argue that redistribution of wealth is inherently immoral, whereas others argue that social justice—building a just society—means that caring for one’s neighbor takes priority.  The government is either a bane of the market—taking from the rich and giving to the poor—or a source of promise, enacting legislation that forces the rich to spread the wealth in an otherwise greedy culture.

Third, we must ask ourselves how our reading of the Bible informs our values.  Lots of people claim that their view is biblical; my only question is, “Which part of the Bible are you reading most?”

In the Old Testament, it is obvious that God held Israel—a nation with a centralized government under King David—accountable to care for the impoverished in its midst.  Neglecting the needs of its citizenry was not option because the holiness of the nation depended on the equity of justice, healing, and reconciliation.  The Torah saw to it that healthcare was a part of Israel’s national policy.

Yet, in the New Testament, Jesus’ program for salvation and redemption included the whole individual by the hands of another.  When Jesus talked about being a good neighbor, he mentioned a Samaritan who helped pay the healthcare bill of a dying traveler.   Jesus did not seem to expect the government to heal people; it was God who did the healing.  It was in Luke’s gospel that Jesus stressed over and again that God called individuals—the wealthy in particular—to share their resources with the “have-nots” of society.

As you construct your moral foundation concerning healthcare, I only ask that you consider where you fall in these categories and where God wants you to be in these categories.  I’m not looking for specific policies here, only the ability to think critically about how our ideas might stack up against the moral framework of God’s standards for a healthy nation.

Published by Joe LaGuardia

I am a pastor and author in Vero Beach, Florida, and write on issues related to spirituality, faith, politics, and culture.

4 thoughts on “God is concerned with Health Care.

  1. I think both sides have taken essentially the same tactics. Labeling each other with invectives, giving their supporters a ‘playbook’, and attempting to use the media to their advantage. All of this is okay. It is okay because in America we have the right to freedom of speech, assembly and freedom of the press. These are rights that thousands have given their lives to protect.

    The debate on health care which consumes nearly a fifth of the national economy and involves everyone is something that we should openly debate and understand the intended and unintended consequences of before we change an entire system.

    It is important to provide better access, bend the cost curve so that health care is affordable (and not just through shifting costs by taxing), and improving the quality of the care delivered.

    We are a country that leads the world in health care innovation. We have to zealously protect that aspect. No other country in the world is positioned to take our place if we take our eye off this important work.

    Follow many aspects of the health care debate and information about health care delivery at http://www.ilovebenefits.wordpress.com

  2. I appreciate these thoughts Joe – very thought-provoking.I am a christian and member of our local Church and this issue is hotly debated. I just started blogging and find myself out of tune with the majority of my friends. Probably because I lived for 20 years overseas and experienced government run helathcare first hand and it was not all bad

  3. “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”(Matthew 9:35)

    “When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.”(Luke 4:40)

    “He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.”(Proverbs 28:27)

    I would say if it were up to God or Jesus they would provide healthcare for all. The idea of combining religion and politics is a hypocrisy.

  4. Religion and politics combined is not an idea; your assertion that this is hypocrisy is not historically or theologically (or rationally) valid. Jesus would have never separated the two in his day: that which was political was religious and vice versa.

    That Jesus healed in the first place was very political; why do you think he got killed?

    Additionally, how I see it, if I were to separate the two, that would be hypocritical and highly unconscionable.

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