Looking at Health Care from the perspective of the Bible

Health care tops the list of issues most important to voters in the upcoming election—the most important issue that influences their vote for president.

It’s surprising, given the quality of medical care nowadays and the capabilities of surgeons.

It’s not surprising, given the quantity of people with some kind of health problems. As wonderful and miraculous these human bodies are, they are very susceptible to breakdown.

No wonder Jesus did so much healing. He lived in an era where their only medical care was herbal. People must have swarmed around Him, which is exactly what the Gospels say. No wonder: He was their only hope for healing.

Here’s what I see in the Bible about this subject.

1. Health care needs to be affordable. There would be many places I could go in the Bible to show that it is our obligation to take care of those who are sick, but the most obvious is Matthew 25.43: We have a moral responsibility to look after the sick.

The only way to a just and moral society is to care for the poor—those who can’t take care of themselves, but the poor who are sick are a category of people even more needy.

2. Health care can’t be free. I mean, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Lk. 10.7 and 1 Tim. 5 18 both say: “The worker deserves his wages.” We make the same point about management abusing factory workers: everyone deserves a fair wage. So it’s as unjust to deprive a health care worker or doctor of their fair wages in giving health care.

3. Third, the government can’t pay for it, and here’s why:

  1. Biblically, it’s the duty of people to take care of people. It’s about community and being a people together and taking care of each other. Through the generations we try to pass more and more off to the government so that we can just give money and not have to be think about others or be compassionate in society. It’s a dereliction of duty to pass everything off to “the system” and not be engaged.
  2. Economically, it’s not feasible, as we have heard from the candidates. The economics of providing national health care in a country the size and make-up of America is an unmanageable economic burden. Taxation is to pay for services, and it’s often a burden, but it’s not fiscally responsible to use taxation to oppress the population.
  3. The government has not proved itself as being an adequate manager of a system as complex and demanding as fair and sufficient health care for the entire population. We have seen that even our business model (meaning, the insurance companies and hospitals) have struggled and to some extent failed at the task. But we have learned through history that there are tasks better left to smaller entities, that the government is incapable of overseeing this task. The failure of the Veterans Administration medical care for vets is instructive that if they cannot be responsible with a smaller task they should not be trusted with the larger task.

Fulfilling our biblical mandate in a deep and complex issue like health care affords no easy answers.  I don’t come to the table with a solution. I’m not a health care professional or a corporate CEO. What I ask is a system that reflects biblical values, which to me I think would bring an improvement to the way we are doing things.

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