Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Where is Jesus in the Healthcare Debate?

A post on the the Daily Politics Blog had this heading: Religious Right Opposes Health Care (but Where is the Religion?) http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/10/26/religious-right-opposes-health-care-but-wheres-the-religion/ . After reading the post, I agree with with the heading. More specifically, where is Jesus in the debate. When we make ideology the end of our faith, we lose sight of the One whom we live for. Here are some facts that we need to consider. In out country, we have free medical care. It is called the emergency room. Many triage nurses are called upon to provide care for the running noses of poor mothers who cannot afford a doctor. Much of our national debt pays for this. According to several authorities, 43 millians Americans are uninsured! These are just the facts of our national economics. Now let us look at the fact of Jesus.

Much of Christ's ministry was healing. It could be said that His inauguration text was Isaiah 61:1-2. He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor...and recovery of sight to the blind.... Jesus could not have limted this prophecy to the spiritually blind as He healed the physically blind as well. He commissioned the apostles to preach the kingdom and heal the sick. I would think from Jesus' teachings and His practice, health care would be an interest of His. If any religious group in the Name of God believed that the government should not reform a system that is not reaching a vast number of people, then one must ask, Why?

I could see the Church oppose health care reform if the church said with a loud voice matched by action, we will provide health care for all! But it is not. We allow our government to tax us to provide services. Should not one of these services be the provision of equal access to medicine? Health care based on whether you have a job and your employer provides whatever they choose to afford is a system that is exclusive based on the god of mammon. I would think Jesus would see health care as His will for all!

I would say we could debate government involvement as the only option. But the rugged individualism of the religious right excludes our sibling humans who have little resources to provide for themselves. Which leaves us to look to government to provide for all who are entitled to health care as a moral and civil right! This is not new. The religious minority of the First Century saw government as God ordained for their protection. St. Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans:

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. 2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. 3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. 4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. 5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority. (Chapter 13) "The authorites are God's servants, sent for your good! Why not entrust them with our health care!

St. Peter, too, had a similar understanding of the role of government: For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.
15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.
(I Peter 2)

Based on these texts government is not the enemy of God and these texts were written in times where the government was not the friend of Christians. Until we all become our brothers and sisters keepers, A public or susidized option is not anathema to God's will!