Friday, August 21

Health Care Reform

I have also posted my current thoughts on health care reform on my Priestly Goth Blog. Those are my personal opinions and they inform what I would say pastorally but they are not intended as that on my blog.

As a pastor and minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ I remind all that for the Church and as disciples of Christ we must begin our thinking with Jesus' and God's concern for the "least of these", and the poor. Given this it seems that the staggering numbers of those who are without insurance and that among those are people working two perhaps more jobs to support their families and who cannot afford basic health care nor the insurance that would enable them to afford basic health care, is unacceptable given this need to care for the least of these. We as Christians should be concerned about this situation. A public option is one way to address this issue. The Gospel and any moral mandate does not though demand a public option, what is demanded is that we make choices not out of our own self preservation but out of a sense of justice and righteousness and a care for the outcast stranger, poor and other. Those who are Christian and oppose a public option then need to offer ways in which such an opposition is more than simply passing by on the other side of the road convinced that there is nothing we can do to help, and being self-satisfied in our private and personal charity. In part this is so because still a majority of people claim to be Christian in this country, which means that there is a good chance that Christians are among those who profit off a system that in the least is as concerned with making a profit as it is for peoples health. This also means that Christians are also among those who cannot afford health care and are without insurance. If we simply oppose health care reform based on some sense that the church and personal charity should fill in the gaps of our for profit system, it is clear that this is not happening, that we are not providing care for those who do not have access to it. Show how the churches and their institutions and members are stepping in and providing the care for those our system does not care for and I will listen.

Yet for those who support health care reform, I urge caution. We should ask from a Christian POV how much power should we give the government. Even well meaning politicians and rulers can make selfish and power appropriating decisions in the name of the Good. In the Revised Common Lectionary in year B we have been following the story of the Kings of Israel starting with Saul and now reading about Solomon, all duly appointed and anointed of God, all in varying degrees failed to act in true justice and righteousness, and found the temptations of power to be too great to resist. I do not think we as Christians can ignore the dangers of increasing the ways in which a government can have a say in our day to day lives. Justice and the Gospel do not call us to accept whatever a legislature may give us as possible reform. Our scriptures give us a healthy dose skepticism even of good government.

So as we as followers of Christ seek to wade through this current morass two things we need to keep in mind: that we are called away from self preservation and moved to seek to help and care for the least of these and the poor, and government and the power to do something does not make it necessarily just, even if it is well intentioned and done by a legitimate power structure.

For us at Reconciler I suggest that perhaps we use this current legislation as a case study for our fall study on Biblical and Christian perspectives on government and justice, and take the time to examine the ins and outs and the justice of the proposed legislation.