- HEALTH CARE: A Biblical Critique – part 1
Dr. Mark Hamilton is Chairman of the Board of the Institute For Principled Policy, Professor of Philosophy Ashland University and an Elder for Providence Church
Health care is dominating the news and our culture. It is also apparent that most people want all Americans to be treated fairly and compassionately and that the current costs of health care have burdened many and threaten this desire for fairness. But the current proposed health care bill presents numerous reasons for concern and there are specific aspects of the bill which are wrong and morally unacceptable.
God cares about our health. The Bible refers to the words heal, healer, healed, health, healthy at least 169 times. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body.” We should take care of our bodies as service to God. Jesus came to heal and redeem, and ultimately we must understand that all healing comes from God and is dependent upon Him. Jesus alone is our healer. He came to make us well and bring life.
God cares about our Laws. Isaiah 10:1 says, “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees….” But how do we know an unjust law? As Christian I believe in the “sufficiency of scripture.” This means that scripture is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Since this is so we must look to Scripture as the supreme standard to evaluate the proposed government takeover of health care. The only standard by which any one can really evaluate any laws is by the standard of Scripture. In this analysis I will evaluate the proposed Health Care Bill by the standards of Scripture and particularly by the Standard of God’s Law, the Ten Commandments.
The proposed health care bill builds on the modern American trend of statism. Statism is when power is centralized and located in the state not in the people. In statism, a person’s life and work belong to the state. For the past 150 years America has become gradually more nationalized in its approach toward government with the state taking more and more control over economic planning and policy including the lives of its citizens. The American Founding Fathers understood the tendency of governments to move in this direction of restricting freedom so they implemented means to block that movement. They also understood power ultimately rests in God and that all nations rise and fall by the authority of God. They often acknowledged the sovereignty of God. The Declaration of Independence even states, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge our Lives, Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.” They understood that God, not the state, society, class, or church is our security. God alone is ultimately sovereign and all power and authority rests in Him. Furthermore only God can be trusted with power. Human power and freedom is always a threat or danger because of sin.
Because of the effects of sin, whenever God’s sovereignty is reduced, then humans or human institutions step forward and fill that vacuum. For example in theology when God’s supremacy is reduced then individual human authority intervenes and results in Arminian theology and a reduction in God’s work of grace in salvation. Understanding God’s sovereignty properly leads to an understanding of the limited power and authority of humans and human institutions. The American Constitution created a government of limited and enumerated powers with a separation of powers because the Founders and Authors understood the nature of God’s sovereignty and the dangers of human autonomy and power. In this formula no man or department exercises all the power of even a limited government. God alone is to be trusted with power. This type of Federalism is based on a presbyterian form of corporate church government with a plurality of leaders and with no monopoly of jurisdiction. The Christian should understand the need is to fragment and limit political power because of sin so it cannot threaten the lives and liberties of the people.
Statism is the modern idolatry of the state. We must understand that the nationalization of Health Care violates the First Commandment which exclaims, “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” Growing statism makes the state into a deity. During the medieval periods ecclesiolatry was responsible for much of the world’s suffering. When God’s sovereignty was reduced prior to the Reformation in Europe, the church emerged as the sovereign entity and an ecclesiocracy was established as the church ruled over the state. The situation is now reversed. It is now this crossing of the state into the realm of the Church which has caused the suffering of the 20th century. “All modern dictators—Communist, Facist, or disguised—have at least one thing in common. They all believe in social security, especially in coercing people into governmentalized medicine” stated economist Melchoir Palyi in 1949 in Compulsory Medical Care and the Welfare State (Chicago) (quoted from the November 2009 The Trinity Review) .
Here then is a second form of idolatry as the state usurps the role of the Church in its quest for sovereignty. We could say it violates the tenets of separation of church and state causing the state to enter into the realm that is the Church’s. Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, Lenin and Stalin of the USSR, Salazar of Portugal, Mussolini of Italy, Franco of Spain, Yoshito and Hirohito of Japan, Peron of Argentina, Castro of Cuba, Mao of China, and Hitler of Germany all were autocrats and all were advocates of National Health Care (November 2009 The Trinity Review).
Virtue must be voluntary. It is not the role of government to increase the virtues, “Render to God what is God’s.” The government must give opportunity for virtuous men to act appropriately, to get out of their way. American generosity is the consequence of Christianity and capitalism. Compulsory charity is an absurdity like involuntary volunteerism. The state cannot love; It cannot force compassion. Its role is to wield the sword and punish evil-doers. Get the state out of the affairs of the Church. To refuse to do so is to commit idolatry.