My Thoughts on Healthcare Reform (from a Christian and Personal Perspective)

Today, a friend whose known me for many years sent me this on Facebook:

Hey Todd, I am wondering what you think about health care reform. It is expensive, but as a country, should we have millions of people not have access to health care in the United States of America? I know you & I love you as a Godly man…. That is why I am asking what you are thinking. How can Christian people be against healthcare for all American Citizens? I am confused. In my heart, I KNOW Jesus didn’t have this in the plan. He would like us to have healthcare regardless of our income & job status.

These are some of my thoughts in reply to Hester.

Hester, I’m honored you think so highly of me and I’ll try to be faithful in my reply. There are two ways that I will provide a response – one from my understanding of God based on the Bible’s record and one based on my hopes and concerns about the specific proposals in America.

First, scripture: You are correct in that God does not wish for people to suffer. The Biblical record puts all suffering as the result of our separation from God – which man asked for in rebelling against God through the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16) – first via Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:6 original sin) but we’ve all done the same personally (Roman 3:23). In fact, Adam was told he’d die (Gen 2:15-17) – and actually, we kind of did. People are more than our Bodies or even our Souls/Minds – which is the only domains that health care really considers. Our heavenly Father has an even bigger picture than that.

Let’s say that I had two different types of medicine that could make a person whole. I offer you a blue pill that makes you whole today but today only or a red pill that could make you whole completely for the rest of your unending life by tomorrow and better today though not fully whole today). Which would you take? Or you could look at it like the story of the prodigal son – who wants his inheritance today so he can be separate from the father but only waste it, when he had everything of the Father already and forever. Luke 15:11-24. We are made of body, soul and spirit. We completely died in sin in our Spirit. That’s the real us that took our inheritance and went into a foreign land and connected our self with a citizen of that land (Satan) and he ravishes our mind and our bodies bringing illness. God is all about loving us to the place where we return to him so he can separate us from Satan and gives us the spirit of his son, Jesus, as our very life. The mind is then renewed by the word of God which makes us much better, even in this life, but the body, in this life will never be whole. The Bible says we will be given new bodies just as the prodigal son in the story was given new clothes. (1 Cor 15:35-50; Phil 3:20-21).

Even so, God does provide substantial healing of the body in a variety of ways. 1) right living –the law in the Old Testament provides many practical guidelines of sanitation, proper food types, handling, preparation; and many other guides to successful living that produced health and this centuries before the world knew about germs 2) the body’s ability to heal itself which is quite substantial 3) via the ability for man to think and gain knowledge and wisdom – providing doctors and scientist that create new techniques and medications every day that further enhance health . 4) by the power of the spirit of God. Still men will never be healed forever in body. Also, clearly, Christ did not heal everyone he came into contact with and their own belief in the ability to be healed played a factor in the healing too. So if we don’t believe in God or healing, well, #4 likely not so available in our life. But if you don’t believe in doctors, you have the same problem and if you don’t eat right, care for your body – well, that affects you too. We have our part to do if we will obtain health which I will come back to in a moment.

But you must understand that Christians (and God) look at the long tomorrow. This life is only the dot where the pen first comes down to draw a line that goes on forever. The line is the thing – not just the dot. When Christians pray for someone, they are right to pray for God’s will even if that means death at this time – because we believe that death means you are going home to see God face to face, to be free of all human suffering and to receive an imperishable body. This is the ultimate healing. If you trust that God is good and knows the best course of action for you, then it is not hard to accept this – just as Jesus modeled in Gethsemane Matt 26:39. However, God did not choose to bring us home as soon as we returned to him – he chose to leave us here on earth to love others as Jesus loved us so that they too may come to know the life and love God has for them. This is why St. Paul says: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Phil 1:21.

Even though eternity is way bigger than this temporal body, I still would very much like everyone to have healthcare – but I would also like everyone who can work to work – and socialistic and welfare systems do not encourage that. Why doesn’t the government fix that problem. Then, everyone that is not working but could would be able to be go to work and buying health insurance. Hmmmm.

St. Paul gave this rule to the churches, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” 2 Thes 3:10 The Christian point of view is that we should help those in need – but when in need, not indefinitely. In the story of the Sheep and Goats – Matt 25:31-46, Jesus commends or rebukes based on people feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, etc. – but he is not saying feed the lazy or bail out the fiscally irresponsible over and over. We all have times we need to be carried and there are some people for which that time is longer or even forever – but there are many people living that way that do not really need handout help; they need help being held accountable for their choices and actions and government policies should embody that – otherwise, they are incenting the deterioration of society.

The Bible supports the idea that people should be taken care of by community. Specifically, it teaches the church should support widows and orphans. Sadly, it does far too little of this today which I believe is part of the problem; the church has abdicated its responsibility and it’s members feels justified in only complaining about the government’s handling. This, of course, was what the Pharisees did too and they were the group Jesus tended to be most frustrated with – the religious self-righteous.

However, the Bible teaches that a family should take care of Widows instead of expecting the church (or the government) to take care of them. 1 Tim 5:3-16. Other qualifications are that she should be older than 60 (a younger woman should be able to take care of herself) and even if she is older, that she should live responsibly rather than for personal pleasure – suggesting the idea of moral and fiscal responsibility and limited community resources. Paul is saying the church can help with necessity but not niceties.

Hopefully, that gives you some context of a Christian point of view. Not saying that healthcare for all is not a great thing – just sharing some of the points of view you might gain from scripture broadly.

Now getting to my opinions on healthcare reform, I am very concerned about it. If at Dell, we had a system that worked 80% of the time, we’d likely want to improve it – but we would hardly throw it out for an untried system or substandard system. As a Christian, I desire a for everyone to have healthcare but I want that in a system that provides for people better than our current medicare system which is what the Government has run. I’d much rather see the Government setup regulations and rules on private insurance that would bring about sensible healthcare for all and that not necessarily free (except for those who really need free).

For instance, the government made liability car insurance mandatory and voila, most everybody has liability insurance on their car – but they don’t run the car insurance companies. Why not? If they can’t handle something as simple as car insurance, should they really be running something as complex as health care. Businesses are better able to support business and it should be that way. Government should force some reforms on some bad practices that shut out small businesses or various people (pre-existing condition, specific conditions, etc.). They should stop all the crazy lawsuits that have brought the cost up so high. They should make it mandatory that worker purchase it and provided limited free or reduced insurance (sort of the way Cobra is offered if laid off), the incentive being to get another job! In my opinion, these types of improvements to the current system are way more desirable, less costly, and will provide better, more reliable care than any government run system.

So in closing, I don’t see any scriptural basis for a government run healthcare system though I do see support for families providing for family members needs and community providing for those who have no other support.  The scripture places this support as the church’s role and nowhere suggest it as the government’s role.  Still, the Bible strongly tells Christians to submit to government authorities (Matt 22:21; Romans 13:1) as they are ordained by God (and the church was saying this while the likes of Nero were in power which is far worst than anything we suffer with our politicians).  I believe a better healthcare proposal would reform the current one; providing government regulations of business and reforms of government practices.  I think a government run system will be a disaster for everyone, providing increasingly substandard healthcare and imposing a huge tax burden to coming generations.  However, if it comes, I will accept it (unless it can be changed to something better after everyone supporting it wakes up) and live with it as best possible given the options available.

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  1. JD Dyess’s avatar

    Well thought out and well written, Todd. Regarding the Biblical position I would add that we are accountable to God on an individual and group (church) basis for caring for others – not as a society or government. And this is a free-will matter that God calls us to but we must choose and God blesses accordingly (Acts 5.1-4). Those who depict the early church in Jerusalem as collectivist or socialist are getting it wrong since the offerings given and shared were free-will offerings. I see no support for socialism in scripture – quite the opposite.

    On a practical/secular front I understand the efforts of those in government to move us in the direction of socialism as nothing more than politicians/bureaucrats working to increase their own industry even if it means bankrupting our economy. Anyone who thinks our government is the place to turn to to improve healthcare in the USA should transfer all their savings to Bernie Madoff for him to manage. We’ve already had a long hard look at government run healthcare and it provides increasingly restricted and inferior care while running up the national debt. It’s called the VA, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. My Mom was “fired” by her cardiologist due to Medicare continually reducing the payout schedule to doctors for various procedures. He had to lay off 4 staff members in order to maintain a practice. So Mom ended up without a cardiologist at the age of 76 and having had a double bypass. Wow, let’s nationalize this program!!

    Finally, I agree with your assessment that many changes could be made to keep quality healthcare available and reasonably priced. Ironically, many of these changes would serve to undo much of the government’s impact on the industry combined with addressing issues (e.g., tort reform) that the government has failed to address at all. I can think of no other entity in American society today that is more disqualified to run/manage the healthcare industry than our government. Fortunately we have a far superior system in place to remedy these issues if the government will simply allow/enable it and that is the free market system. Not perfect but far better than government.

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  2. Wesley’s avatar

    Very good. Both the post and comment by JD. I think we all might be surprised at the number of people in agreement with these sentiments.

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