Healthcare In USA: Your Chance to RANT or RAVE! [or] Would Jesus have Voted Yea or Nea?

This is going to be a very short post.  I simply have some questions:

Is the new health care bill something to RANT or RAVE about?  Why or why not?  Theologically?  Practically?

PS – Would Jesus have Voted for the Health Care Bill? (Give biblical criterion)


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  • I don’t think Jesus would have voted. Of course Jesus is in all of us, his children, so that maybe misses the point, since we all have our unique places and role in the world. In the end I just don’t know, but a good question

  • Anthony

    When Jesus was on the Earth, he couldn’t care less about the “Romans”, i.e., the governments of men. He focused on people’s souls, and he told us Christians to pay for our neighbor’s medical expenses. If we followed the sermon on the mount, we wouldn’t CARE whether or not we had universal health care.

  • I think we should first see Jesus for what he was and is now, and he would be a first century Jew, who is now sitting at the right hand of the Father. So all attempts to label him conservative/liberal or capitalist/socialist will be misguided. So if you take Jesus and put him into our political climate, instead of voting for or against the bill, he will be trying to usher in the Kingdom of God!

  • There are good reasons Jesus could care less what Rome would or would not do. A first century Jew was a tolerated minority in the Empire and it would be a waste of time and energy to think you could impact the way Rome went (not to mention there was no voting back then).

    Governments are created entities (see Col. 1 and Eph 6). They are a “power” that is fallen just like we humans are fallen. Yet, they were created “in” Christ and “for” Christ and therefore Christians who know Christ ought to applaud/rave when gov’t falls in line with an ethic of Christ (ending slavery, civil rights legislation, health care reform, etc) and Christians ought to speak out/rant when the gov’t is living into its fallen nature.

    But whatever side of the aisle we humans find ourselves politically it would do us all well to remember that our citizenship is in heaven, not America, and the extent to which we pin our hopes and dreams on the government to solve our problems alone (this goes for those who demonize Obama and the left and cry that the sky is falling as well as for those who think Obama is a Messiah who is fixing the world) is perhaps the same extent to which we have become idolaters.

    • Amy

      Chad – I am in agreement with what you said about remembering that our citizenship is in heaven, not the United States of America. I do believe as Christians we should speak up when the government isn’t falling in line with the ethics of what we are taught in the Bible, but we also need to remember Who is in control – God is (not the government or any politician). Anthony also made a valid point, that if we as Christians were truly following Christ’s call in the sermon on the mount, healthcare would be a mute point. Maybe God let this happen so we would start to look at our own actions (or lack thereof). We are called to care for each other, and if we truly did just that there would be no need for health care reform mandate. If we profess to be Christians, let’s start living the life that Christ calls his disciples to live! The government may be mandating we pay for healthcare, but Christ has mandated that we care for the poor and the needy!

  • Eric

    I’m wondering if we missed the purpose Jesus had when he touched the sick and healed them. He would forgive their sins and heal the sickness to display His glory. He healed people who had their infirmities for many years. Why did they have to go through their lives so long before being healed? I can surmise, but will not know for sure. My best guess is so that God would display His power through Jesus and to give an example of what new life in Christ looks like.

    I don’t remember in the parable of the talents where Jesus said that the servant who got 5 had to give 1 or 2 to the servant who had only 1. I personally see the government as a whole as the type who would get 1 talent because they mis-manage so much. This is one reason why I’m so opposed to this bill. Practicality is out the window. To paraphrase Nancy Pelosi: We have to pass this bill so that we know what is in it.

    I hate casting my pearls before swine, don’t you?

    Very few doctors out there dumped years and hundreds of thousands of dollar into medical school to just work for the government. I fear that we’ll see our best and brightest students steer away from the medical profession because they don’t want to work for the government on a limited salary. I know that greed is bad, but money is still a large motivation for many people to get into the profesison. If you had the choice, would you see a doctor who is the best and motivated by money, or would you see a doctor who is sub-par and doesn’t care about money?

    • sbbmax

      This is a case in point of all or nothing arguments.Look at the whole of scripture and what it says about”Righteousness”.It is clear in Isaiah and from Torah.That God put a premium on the “truefast’.Which was caring for the widow, and the poor, and the wayward.CHristians sometimes try To Individualize everything.When first century Judaism was very communal in terms of it’s structure.I agree with other posts that if christians were doing and helping others with healthcare we wouldn’t need to worry about this issue.Simply look at recent 20th century history.Government is involved because because christians didn’t take the reigns.IF we won’t do it ,God will find a way to do it”.Or is the gospel,”here jesus accept him,now,I’ve got mine you get yours”.

  • Overall I believe it is something to be celebrated. As a Christian, I am happy to see our country move toward health care reform. Deep down I believe change was inevitable here, and its nice to see Obama deliver on the promise he made during his campaign.

    However, the timing of this bill passing is horrendous. I say that because we are in the worst recession this country has seen since The Great Depression. With that being said, our country is in a state of flux. We are still a divided nation, and judging from some of the comments I saw on facebook regarding this bill’s passing, it appears we will stay divided for quite some time.

    Ultimately there is something to be celebrated and mourned about the passing of this bill depending on what “side” you are on. For folks like myself who consider themselves in the middle on most issues, I see it as both. We should celebrate the creation of universal health care and mourn its timing. We should celebrate the helping of the sick and vulnerable who otherwise can’t help themselves, and we should mourn the dependence it could create in spirit of people who can help themselves. At the end of the day, I hope and pray the passing of this bill will exceed expectations and deliver hope in a time of dejection.

    Whatever your opinion is though, please share it with understanding and humility. At the end of the day, we should be in prayer for our leaders whether we agree or disagree with their motives and intentions.

  • Jesus would have never been able to make it to Congress as he would never pledge aligiance to a flag (that would be an interesting sight). And, in this day and age where Obama was criticized for not wearing an American flag pin, someone who would not pledge aligiance. But, maybe I am wrong…

    I am with Britt, great comment!

  • I just read over my quote and saw that it didnt really make much sense… anyways…

    Jesus would have never been able to make it to Congress to vote as he would never pledge aligiance to a flag (that would be an interesting sight). And, in this day and age where Obama was criticized for not wearing an American flag pin, it would be impossible for someone who would not pledge aligiance to the flag to make it in. But, maybe I am wrong…

    I am with Britt, great comment!

  • It’s a sad day when we believe that we must turn to robbery to fund the directives of God to take care of the poor and downtrodden. When will we realize that there is no virtue in these methods and turn to Christ to find out what true justice looks like? Perhaps when we see our Emergency rooms flooded and unable to serve those who are really in need; perhaps it’ll be when it’s one of our parents that has to rot away in a nursing home because they’re not valuable enough for the state to pay for their rehab after a stroke; maybe it’ll be when we realize that health care reform means your employer dropping your health care coverage because it’ll only cost him/her a $750/year fine, rather than the thousands that (s)he currently pays. Governments aren’t against monopolies, they just want control over them. We haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg yet. The power-elite have been talking about population control for decades, now they’ve got it locked down, what better way to control the population than to take over the industry that watches out for peoples’ health? It’s truly a sad sad day.

    An interesting quote from Leo Tolstoy seems appropriate here; granted, he wasn’t discussing universal “health care” but the principle is the same:
    “Such is the attitude of certain learned men to the contradiction under which our society is being crushed, and such are their methods of solving it. Tell these people that the whole matter rests on the personal attitude of each man to the moral and religious question put nowadays to everyone, the question, that is, whether it is lawful or unlawful for him to take his share of military service, and these learned gentlemen will shrug their shoulders and not condescend to listen or to answer you. The solution of the question in their idea is to be found in reading addresses, writing books, electing presidents, vice-presidents, and secretaries, and meeting and speaking first in one town and then in another. From all this speechmaking and writing it will come to pass, according to their notions, that governments will cease to levy the soldiers, on whom their whole strength depends, will listen to their discourses, and will disband their forces, leaving themselves without any defense, not only against their neighbors, but also against their own subjects. As though a band of brigands, who have some unarmed travelers bound and ready to be plundered, should be so touched by their complaints of the pain caused by the cords they are fastened with as to let them go again.
    Still there are people who believe in this, busy themselves over peace congresses, read addresses, and write books. And governments, we may be quite sure, express their sympathy and make a show of encouraging them. In the same way they pretend to support temperance societies, while they are living principally on the drunkenness of the people; and pretend to encourage education, when their whole strength is based on ignorance; and to support constitutional freedom, when their strength rests on the absence of freedom; and to be anxious for the improvement of the condition of the working classes, when their very existence depends on their oppression; and to support Christianity, when Christianity destroys all government.
    To be able to do this they have long ago elaborated methods encouraging temperance, which cannot suppress drunkenness; methods of supporting education, which not only fail to prevent ignorance, but even increase it; methods of aiming at freedom and constitutionalism, which are no hindrance to despotism; methods of protecting the working classes, which will not free them from slavery; and a Christianity, too, they have elaborated, which does not destroy, but supports governments.
    Now there is something more for the government to encourage – peace. The sovereigns, who nowadays take counsel with their government ministers, decide by their will alone whether the butchery of millions is to be begun this year or next. They know very well that all these discourses upon peace will not hinder them from sending millions of men to butchery when it seems good to them. They listen even with satisfaction to these discourses, encourage them, and take part in them.
    All this, far from being detrimental, is even of service to governments, by turning people’s attention from the most important and pressing question: Ought or ought not each man called upon for military service to submit to serve in the army?
    “Peace will soon be arranged, thanks to alliances and congresses, to books and pamphlets; meantime go and put on your uniform, and prepare to cause suffering and to endure it for our benefit,” is the government’s line of argument. And the learned gentlemen who get up congresses and write articles are in perfect agreement with it.
    This is the attitude of one set of thinkers. And since it is that which is most beneficial to governments, it is also the most encouraged by all intelligent governments.”

  • Scott Baldridge

    I believe the whole of scripture summates that we should have health care for our neighbor!.How the Industry that profits so greatly from this out of control cost and limited selective care gets by as not being the villian bogels the mind.

    • It’s the role of the Church not the state to provide care for those who can not care for them self. It is our responsibility.

      • Scott Baldridge

        Yes, thats true james,But if you will not do the will of the father “in the first commandment’He will find away to do it .Read the book of Isaiah.even if that take government in the effort of the common good.The so called free market in the United states Insurance Industry does not exist.It is a rogue industry simply its history since 1970.I also think HMO’s should be outlawed.I will speak of this later.

        The problem is that that sometimes I think american evangelicals,’not all”,but many, just want to put a bandaid on these things and wait for the Rapture.I hope people like you that care,can help find solutions.Thank you

        • Scott, I thank God for fellow Christians like you guys. I am sick and tired of the Church not caring. Still, this bill is only a false band-aid. I see all the time how the governments “care” becomes more enslaving than the circumstances it tries to relieve. Not always, but down here the majority of the time. I know that the only lasting … See Morehealing and comfort comes from and through the kingdom of God. Thanks for the comment about “waiting for the rapture.” That makes me queazy too. Jesus wants us to serve him know.

  • Laura B

    I’m with James. A plan that has only been halfway planed (if that) is not a plan at all. To say you want change and to have a plan are to totally different things… Can anyone say Nobel Peace Prize? I believe if the church was taking care of their community we wouldn’t need the goverments bandaids. My heart hurts for my children and grand children… See More… What will they have to deal with 50+ years down the road. All beacuse money was tossed at a problems instead of planed out solutions. Have we not learned from the past year? Sad that we can’t take the time to do it right… Instead people where bought out. Oh so many things wrong all trying to make things right.

  • Daniel Dyk

    obviously we need to Rave about saving 45,000 lives per year and 1.3 trillion dollars… N. Palosi

  • Doreen

    Who would Jesus not heal?

    It’s a sad commentary on our inability to care for one another when we have to rely on the government to do it for us. (Or our lack of interest in doing so, in some cases.)

  • Helgee

    How many of those who will gain lowsy healthcare will raise their hands and praise Jesus? How many will raise their hands and worship the liberal democrats who gave it to them? Its too bad that nobody will look to the Church anymore to help them out when the government is giving handouts already stolen from us.

    I feel sorry for those who put their trust in the politicians who have to lie and do back-door deals and violate the Constitution that they’ve sworn to uphold so that the government can do the job of the Church.

    I’ve heard of as many of 1/3 of the healthcare professionals out there who will leave if this travesty becomes law. Do you think that they won’t be forced to stay in business? Do you think that if a doctor wishes to go overseas and serve the Lord through medicine that the government will allow it to happen? Pray for the doctors out there, for they have become a commodity that whoever in power now has control over. I wouldn’t wish that upon my worst adversary.

    As for the government control, don’t forget about John Holdren, Obama’s Science Czar. This man believes in controlling overpopuation with forced abortions and putting sterilants in the water supply. He also believes that a baby isn’t a real human until they turn 2 or 3 years old. (Hey, this sounds like Pharoah at the time Moses was a baby, or like Herod when Jesus was born.) With control of the health industry, guys like this can do whatever they want with the general public. Imagine them putting something into the basic flu shot or infant vaccinations.

    Only God can judge the hearts of mankind, but I seriously doubt Jesus would have had anything to do with something like this.

    If you didn’t have to have car insurance until after an accident, how many people would carry it? If you didn’t have to buy fire insurance until after your house is on fire, then why buy fire insurance? It just isn’t practical.

  • While I do think helping the needy and poor is the responsibility of Kingdom citizens (as has already been well-stated in the comments), I am also deeply hurt by my brothers and sisters who are so angry over an attempt (however under-planned and over-argued) to help those who have no insurance. I see Christians calling this socialism (and worse). I see Christians ranting about “their” money being taken from them to be given to others. I see Christians focusing too much on politics, and too little on the love of Christ.

    Personally, I am at a point where I could care less about politics and government. Whether the bill passes or not is only of concern to me because: 1) as a preacher I pay A LOT of money for health insurance, and I hope (skeptically) this bill can change that as those who advocate it promise; 2) this highlights the neglect and apathy we in the church have been guilty of; 3) I am at least glad that someone cares enough to want to help needy families get insurance instead of believing they don’t deserve it because they brought poverty on themselves (which may or may not be true, but should not weigh at all on our decision to help those in need…sin victimizes us all).

    So, let’s not rant….since we are to do everything without grumbling or complaining. Let’s rave about the Kingdom concept of helping the needy. And let’s get motivated to do what God has called the church to do so the government does not have to.

  • As I read the many posts in favor, or at least apathetic, to this monstrosity, I find a recurring theme of needing to give health care insurance to those who can’t afford it. I realize that it’s difficult to see other options when we’ve lived with this system all our lives, but giving insurance to everyone isn’t the answer. Maybe if our rulers would get out of the business of health care entirely, we might be able to reduce costs to where medical people can charge a decent rate and still pay the bills.

    You may have heard of the “cycle of abuse” where abused children tend to become abusers themselves; insurance and government regulation lead to the same type of cycle where people who have insurance tend to purchase more care than those who don’t, doctors raise their rates because they can since the insurance company has deeper pockets than the person buying their service. Then, the government steps in and starts to regulate the medical system, thus adding more expense, which has to be passed on to the insurance company but the consumer sees what’s going on and wants a part of it so they start suing the doctors, which causes them to have to buy insurance to protect themselves from being sued, which adds more to the cost passed to the consumers’ insurance companies, which causes them to raise their rates; and the cycle goes on. The problem is that the government solution only plugs the hole in the system where it has priced itself out of the budget of the average person, but it does it in a way that will cause costs to increase exponentially which will have the effect of making rationing of care necessary. It’s a vicious cycle that can’t be solved at this level. If the government wants to fix the system, it needs to not look at the symptoms of a broken system, but to what broke the system, but like most doctors today, who only treat symptoms, they apply a band-aid that will not fix the underlying problem, which is guaranteed to make the problem that they’re trying to fix, worse not better.

  • Matthew Yoder

    I’m pretty sure I know what Jesus wouldn’t be doing…and that’s complaining about what Caesar was doing. Rather, I think he’d be flipping over some of the tables in our churches and chastising us for spending more money on ourselves than for the poor/disadvantaged/widows in our community.

  • For all the discourse and ranting that is going on here and, more prominently, in the media hype of all of this healthcare buzz, I think the American church is looking at this from a vantage point that is much too political. If we really look at what Jesus tells us in the Gospels and what the other writters of the Old and new testamanet have said, then I can draw only this conclusion. If the American church were doing what we are called to do, this “reform bill” and all the debate and controversy that has come along with it would NEVER HAVE HAPPENED. So can we stop arguing about political views and get to the business of loving people the way Christ COMMANDED us to? That’s my 2 cents. Thanks for listening.

  • I won’t pretend to know what Jesus would do if he lived here and now, but I am confident he would be involved in the lives of the people around him just as he was then. One point that many seem to miss when comparing this to Rome/Caesar is that then believers had no voice in government. Christians in the USA today are part of the government, that’s what government of, by, and for the people is all about. For Christians a big question is how do we live out the mandates of the kingdom while living in a country where we are responsible for what the government does. I know we will differ on the answer to that question, but I see it as an opportunity to use more resources for good than are available to me or my church. I feel personal responsibility to be involved in the system we have to heal, feed, educate, and care for those in need. I just don’t find any biblical warrant for saying that all the good we do has to be done through the church.
    I do take exception to calling it stealing when elected officials, in the course of carrying out their duties, decide how we as a nation are going to pay for the services we get from the government. Complain as much as you want but those who voted for this bill were elected by the people, many of them ran on a platform that included health care reform. If you don’t like it you know how to change it. It saddens me that so many people seem to have so little faith in our system of government. It is undeniably part of a fallen world, but at the same time offers a blend of freedom and responsibility that at the very least mirrors some of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

  • Doug Schoenbeck

    I want to be careful about broad brushing because it really isn’t my intention.

    There will always be the sick. There will always be people who are poor. And at times more often then not good people with good intentions have stepped up to fulfill those needs. But in my idealistic mind I would hope deep down that the church catholic would be above all the petty bickering. I as a tax payer I don’t like that we’ve gotten to this point. This should have been addressed years ago. I’d like to believe that this could be a wake up call that maybe, just maybe we’ll realize we’ve abdicated our responsibility of “loving justice, doing mercy and walking humbly with our God”, and truly being citizens of another kingdom. The problem that I see (and this is where the broad brushing comes in) is there is a part of the body, a very vocal part that has equated God’s kingdom with American supremacy and hegemony. For all the good that this nation has done (and it has done a lot) there are things that if looked at honestly, I think we should be ashamed of. This is the dirty mix of faith and politics.

    There is a hubris that I think is blinding. And pride does come before a fall.

  • simplytree0363

    That is a great question! I’m on a schedule of reading the bible in two years (this will be my third time through the bible), and I am currently in the book of Numbers. What has really jumped out at me through Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers is how much God gives into the people’s requests. What are we going to eat? Manna falls from the sky and sustains the people. What–no meat or fish? Quail falls from the sky until “it comes out your nostrils and you loathe it.”

    So, I could see God/Jesus voting for the bill. Whether it would be sustaining manna or a “plague” of quail is yet to be determined.

  • First, let me be clear, I am one who would benefit from this bill. I do not earn enough to pay taxes. I have not earned enough to pay taxes since 2003. My work has been erratic at best and though I earned a decent wage when I was working, the jobs were far enough apart that it didn’t make much of a difference. During that time, I’ve lived in Southern California, Northwest Washington, Nevada, Tennessee and Southwest Washington. As a kid, I used to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and as I think about it, I think that that society would be just about perfect, without the violence and militant evolutionary theology of the show. If we could live in a state where nobody had any need that wasn’t supplied and could simply do their work, I think that would be a wonderful society to be a part of. I often dream of living in such a society where each person uses their talents to provide for the needs of the others. In such a society there could be no unmet needs, society could flourish in freedom if this arrangement was freely chosen. This, I think, is what is envisioned by the Old Testament prophets when they talked about justice for the widows, orphans and strangers. It was a society where people freely took care of each other. I think that’s what each of us envisions when we think about justice for the poor, but justice cannot follow from injustice. The end does not justify the means! However, those among us who believe that taxation is not robbery or theft because people voted for the government, so it represents them, I ask what about the people who voted by not voting, or voted for different representatives. Does the fact that a majority asked someone to govern their neighbors, to take money from them and use it to take care of the poor make it okay? No! The end cannot and does not ever justify the means!

    Jesus had an opportunity to gain the power and authority of the kingdoms of the world. Technically, He wouldn’t have even had to bow down and worship Satan, He was God, He could have just taken it by force but we know He doesn’t work that way because He demonstrated His way to us by letting us torture and murder Him without resisting. Why didn’t Jesus tell His disciples to go and take the rich young ruler’s stuff and sell it for him and give the money to the poor? If it’s okay now, why didn’t Jesus show us that?

    Can you name a single instance where God ordained that those who refused to take care of the poor were to be taxed a portion of their income to give to the poor? You might mention the tithe but that was a voluntary thing, if someone chose to withhold it, they didn’t get a knock on their door from a gang of thugs to take it by force. In fact, even in cases of war, a person was exempt from going if he was afraid. Coercion was a violation of the principles of the Kingdom that God was trying to bring through Israel. Even when Israel asked for a king, God told them that the king would tax the people 10% and make them his slaves. Now they usually took more than that but that wasn’t according to God’s will; of course, none of it was according to God’s will. Here in This country, 10% is the lowest tax bracket and there was a time when the highest was 90%.

    The Bible, in Revelation, talks about 4 beasts. There are actually multiple beasts that are spoken of in both Daniel and Revelation, as well as other prophetic books of the Bible. It talks about an image to the beast and it talks about a mark of the beast. Every time that the Bible talks about a “beast”, it is talking about an earthly kingdom, which Satan claimed as belonging to him. Additionally, when Satan claimed the kingdoms of the world and their authority as belonging to him, Jesus did not question it but simply rebuked his suggestion that He bow down and worship him in order to get them. Many have wondered whether this mark was something physical, or symbolic. More and more clearly these days, I see something that I would not have been able to see just a few years ago. I was raised in a church that spends a lot of time studying the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation and making predictions and declarations of what these things represent but I find that I’m having a more difficult time these days agreeing with at least one of the identifications that we’ve made historically, at least the explanation of it. It’s a mistake that, I think, the modern Christian church, as a whole, makes quite frequently in interpreting Biblical prophecy regarding the beast and its mark. The problem I see is that we attach the mark to a specific beast rather than looking at the progression of beasts and what the mark of the beast, in a general sense, is. If we look at the activities that mark the beasts that are revealed to us in the Revelation, we find that they are coercive governments that get what they want through force and fraud. These are marks of selfishness. These characteristics do not mark the Father or Christ, but Satan, symbolized by the dragon.

    This health-care bill will forcibly confiscate property belonging to our neighbors, whether they wish to contribute or not, and give it to others to whom it does not belong. Whether any argument could be made that the recipients were in need of said property, is irrelevant. Property taken from anybody against their will is, and always will be theft. There can be no virtue, in God’s Kingdom, in taking someone’s wallet and distributing its contents to the homeless or needy for any purpose. The man whose wallet was stolen hasn’t given the money to the poor and the thief is in violation of the eighth commandment. This is not justice, it is injustice because the end cannot ever justify the means, not matter what the end is!

  • Juanita

    Well in a way Jesus WAS socialized healthcare. He healed those who came to Him, it didn’t really matter who they were or where they were from, which is kind of the idea behind socialized healthcare- equal distribution of healing hands to those who need it regardless of their station in life. Whether fallen man is able to create a system that truly embodies this ideal is another question. But I can honestly say, living in a country that actually has socialized medicine, it has been a HUGE blessing in my life and when I think of it I thank God for allowing the government to use the wisdom and resources it has been given in a responsible and beneficial way to everyone who takes refuge under its wings. I will admit that I don’t know much about Obama’s healthcare reforms specifically, but am referring to socialized medicine as I have personally experienced it in Australia.

    • Cuz! I think I agree with where you are going here 🙂 It is interesting that a majority (I suppose not all), but most people in countries where medicine is more socialized than in the States are quite happy with the system. For the doomsday-political types… I think we’d be wise to listen to these kinds of voices. Not that this is the perfect option, but we ought to listen to those within such systems. Thanks!

  • Michael,

    Your comment assumes that what we have is in some way ours as a “right” which goes against the same Bible you are using to justify your political position. According to Scripture, we have no “rights.” Everything we have is a gift. When Jesus said “render to Caesar what is Caesars” he did not add a footnote that said, “Only if you agree with the politics.” Surely you don’t want to suggest that Rome was interested in “small government,” are you? (although I would readily admit that Rome and America are not very different).

    As for Israel – they were a theocracy. The law of the land was that you leave portions of your field unharvested to feed the alien, the orphan and the widow. You also bring the first fruits of your harvest to the temple and you also observe a year of Jubiilee where debts are forgiven. One thing we don’t get very well in the 21st century is the importance of honor in ancient Israel and the punishment of shaming. The Jew who chooses NOT to do as Torah commands may not have the police show up or the IRS but in their minds something even worse would happen: They would be shamed by their community and be standing in opposition to their God, which I think any of us would agree is a far greater consequence than a visit from the IRS.

  • An interesting comment on the issue of why the church should be involved from the archives of Sojourners.

  • Juanita,

    Jesus was not “socialized” healthcare, His was free-market healthcare with a sense of justice and care for the poor. To demonstrate my point, there were places where Jesus didn’t perform many miracles, where He didn’t heal very many people. Now in socialized medicine, this would be anathema but with Jesus, His dependence was on God and the faith of the recipient. He didn’t tell the healthy that they had to pay the bills so that their unhealthy neighbors could receive healthcare. Rather, he did everything for free because he saw it as necessary and right. Now if you wish to make an example of what Jesus did, take the example of David Gates, a medical mission pilot who went to Guyana without pay to minister to the natives when they asked him to come, knowing that his church wasn’t going to pay him for it. The kingdom of God is about voluntarism, not about forcing someone else to pay the bills so that we can feel good about helping the poor without giving everything the way Jesus or a volunteer missionary does every day.


    To say that what we have is not ours, as a right, means that the eighth commandment has no basis in reality. If it’s not possible to steal because what I or you have doesn’t actually belong to us, then a commandment to not steal has no meaning.

    It is arguable to say that it was the exception, not the rule, in Israel that the laws to leave a portion of their land to lie fallow, not only for the poor and strangers, but also to repair the soil that would be depleted of nutrients due to constant production. It was a means of keeping them on the land and maintaining its productive capacity, but the very reason that God allowed Israel to go into captivity to Babylon was because they were not keeping those laws. The 70 year captivity was so that the land could celebrate the Sabbaths that it had been deprived of over the past few hundred years, which proves that they weren’t keeping those commandments. In fact, in the story of Ruth, it is said that at the time there was no king in Israel and every man did what was right in his own eyes and the actions of Boaz were given in the context that he followed the law of Moses, not because he was coerced but because it was right.

    If you’d like a bit of context on Rome, and how socialism brought its destruction, and also relating it to the United States today, here’s a link to download a book that exhaustively outlines the history of Rome from its beginning to its ultimate destruction:

  • Michael,

    The law prohibiting stealing does not negate that all we have is gift from God and the fact that “rights” language is foreign to Scripture. It makes for good American discourse, but lousy theological discourse. Not even your life is a “right” from a theological perspective.

    And I am not speaking of leaving the land fallow but of the Sacred Portion provision and the fields of the fatherless. But you make my point in another way – there were consequences for not obeying the law which dictated to all of Israel to take care of the poor and needy and the alien among them. Exile is even worse than an IRS agent showing up at your door.

    I’m well aware of Rome’s history and demise, and socialism is not one of them. It is multi-faceted to be sure, but to blame it on socialism is nothing more than a person with an axe to grind.

    The one thing that is true, however, is the similarities between the USA and Rome. I have no doubts that the US will one day fall. It’s not a matter of if but when. Will Christians mourn her demise? If so, than perhaps we have created an idol for ourselves that needs to go.

  • Garrett Zajac

    some thoughts that are short enough to make this worth reading that are key parts to this debate:

    1 Peter. read it. great ethical document for us as “elect exiles” who are analogously related to Israel in exile in Babylon. that being said, one of Israel’s role, believe it or not, was to bless the territory that exiled them (make gardens and such).

    every single person reading this has to sit down and seriously recognize that you can talk all you want about how we’re the Church and speaking from the Church about the State that is “other” and outside of our ontology or essence because we’re the Church. but, sadly, you and I are virtually and functionally more a part of Babylon than the exiles. your socio-economic behavior is more an index of your tangible, embodied allegiance to the U.S. than your life in the Church. that being said, that throws a wrench a little bit in our dichotomy of Church and State that we need to take seriously.

    last bit that might bother some: people outside the church can (and sometimes do a better job) of doing good. the role of the Church, as it was for Israel, has been to take preferential care of the weak–the impoverished and the widow. If the State wants to take a step that increases its effect on care for those who cannot afford care for themselves. it is a good.

    This is short for a reason. they’re outlined points that could be expounded on. so ask away.

  • Chad,

    Why, when Jesus was asked, in Luke 12:13, to tell the requester’s brother to divide the family inheritance, did Jesus rebuff him by asking who made Him the judge and arbiter between them? Would it not have been just for Jesus to command his brother to share the inheritance equally with the rest of the family? He then proceeded to tell a parable of a rich man who chose to hoard his wealth and about the unpredictability of life and when death will come upon us. He told the requester to beware of greed and showed how it works both ways.

    The question I have is is government, through this health-care bill, pandering to base envy in the poorer classes, and is the church supporting it because it looks good on the surface but ignoring the deeper issue of coercion behind the facade of justice?

    You said that to say that socialism is not the cause of the downfall of Rome is partly true. I assume you haven’t read the appropriate history as laid out in “The Two Republics” of the effects of luxury on a people who were initially considered the most capable of self-government, however they became infatuated with their own wealth and power and lost the original industriousness that made them great.

    “Such was the condition of things, B. C. 146, when the ruin of Carthage left Rome with no fear of a rival to her supremacy. Senatorial power was the sure road to wealth. The way to this was through the praetorship and the consulship. These offices were the gift of the populace through election by popular vote. The votes of the great body of the populace were for sale; and as only those who could control sufficient wealth were able to buy enough votes to elect, the sure result was, of course, that all the real powers of the government were held by the aristocracy of wealth. Then as these used their power to increase their own wealth and that of their favorites, and only used their wealth to perpetuate their power, another sure result was the growth of jealousy on the part of the populace, and a demand constantly growing louder and more urgent, that there should be a more equable division of the good things of life which were monopolized by the favored few. ‘All orders in a society may be wise and virtuous, but all cannot be rich. Wealth which is used only for idle luxury is always envied, and envy soon curdles into hate. It is easy to persuade the masses that the good things of this world are unjustly divided, especially when it happens to be the exact truth.’ — Froude.6” – Quoted from The Two Republics p. 5

    In the fall of Rome, it was the greed of the wealthy, which gave rise to jealousy and envy in the poorer classes, which brought about socialistic responses to “more equitably” spread the wealth around, which ultimately destroyed the strength of character and moral fortitude of the entire population.

    Justice toward the poor, when freely chosen is a blessed virtue, and worthy of emulation, but when forced upon an unwilling population, it destroys any virtue in both the giver and receiver and only succeeds at further dividing society.

    A few years ago, I had moved in with some friends to try and help them with a situation they were having with a neighbor. My friend’s wife convinced her neighbor to go and get welfare from the government and she was receiving a certain amount for food and an additional amount for other things. We were encouraging her to get a job but she looked at what she was getting in welfare benefits and asked the obvious question that if she went and got a job, she would lose her benefits to this free income so why should she go get a job when she’s getting more this way than she would from working. This illustrates the immorality of socialism. The churches used to rail against greed and envy, now we champion it because the government has found a way to hide behind the veil of “justice” which is really injustice.

    I think that Garrett makes an excellent point by his instruction to read 1Peter. I haven’t stressed this point and likely am being misunderstood because of it. If those outside the Kingdom of God wish to do these things, that’s up to them. I’ll not say anything to that because it is to be expected that they’ll be unjust according to Paul in Romans 8:7 where he says “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” It should be expected that the world will act unjustly, but Christians have had their minds renewed, we are to be no longer carnal and should not be supporting the world in its injustice. We must look at what is hidden under the surface and refuse to be a part of it.

    Another post mentions Shane Claiborne, if you listen to his podcast or read his books, he strongly advocates positions of social justice and wealth redistribution, but he is quick to make a difference between social justice and socialism. An insurance program that he participates in and advocates is one where people pool their funds and if any of them needs medical care, the fund pays the bill. It is not socialism because it doesn’t depend on taking funds from people unwillingly, it is a creative alternative for those who reject violence in all its forms.

    We, as Christians, need to learn to be creative in our solutions, not simply accepting what the world offers us as our alternatives and choosing the lesser of two evils. We must choose the good in contrast to the evil. Don’t be a champion for government programs of coercive wealth redistribution, rather learn to find creative alternatives that maintain the purity and integrity of the Kingdom that Christ is working to reveal without sacrificing the principles of the Law of God.

    • Michael… I haven’t chimed in at all because this is a discussion that is quite involved between you and Chad H at the moment 🙂

      I would raise a question that I am not sure has been mentioned yet. You are here arguing from the “republic.” Now, I see the kind of reasoning that you are using from the above quotation. My question would be: Isn’t history (as it is recorded) usually within the control of the “elite” of the day? In other words, I wonder if the above quote is from the perspective of the “upper classes” and skewed against the “lower classes?” Just an honest observation.

      Also, I am wondering if you have read any of the following thinkers… who are typically endorsed by our common theological hero (Tom Wright)?

      Colossians Remixed, Walsh and Keesemaat
      The Great Awakening or God’s Politics by Jim Wallis
      Tony Campolo?
      OR in the same vein of thought… Jesus for President, Claiborne

      The above folks would likely side with you on much of the theological stuff… but my hunch is they would be in favor of social medicine because it does less to marginalize the poor. I am more than certain that NT Wright would endorse… as a lesser of two evils… social medicine or this modified US version.

      I agree with you, that the church has the primary responsibility to take care of the poor amongst us… BUT, what about the people who suffer in the meanwhile because of the system of the ‘free market’ and the lack of a unified front from the church?
      I feel that I can vote each day with the way that i live. Helping the less fortunate etc… and by the way, the personal story you tell is touching and a great example of how the church can be the church!!!!! You rock in this regard my friend!

      But, what about the uninsured people who have sicknesses that require surgery? Do you think that the church should cut the $500,000 bills that arise for each situation? If not… should those people be left to suffer and die? and if not life threatening… what about people who have back problems that require surgical correction but who cannot afford health insurance? If the back is not fixed… then the job market is impossible… then they simply live off of welfare and/or disability and have no way to better themselves… in this situation, the American dream is impossible because of the system. In other words, isn’t there a cycle of injustice at work in such scenarios? If so, either the church should write the check, or the government. My vote, at this point, is the government 🙂

      Well, the above are some scattered thoughts to throw into the discussion. I hope this does not come across as insulting, but rather as some interjection to make us both grow! Blessings bro!

  • Garrett Zajac

    1. Michael still seems to be thinking in terms of the “other”. let’s do a thought experiment! Think of someone on welfare……….
    what’s his/her age?
    what’s her/his race?
    where does he/she live?

    got it?

    good. now let’s look at the truth of the matter:

    the majority of welfare holders in the U.S. are white, rural, and between the ages of 20-30.

    would this change Michael’s answer? probably in his tone at least.

    secondly, he’s still missing the mandate to care for the impoverished and the widow. why can’t he celebrate the limitation of a pharmaceutical company against exploiting these people? because it’s coercive? bad rhetoric; it’s begging the question because he’s already talking about GOVERN-ment. and why isn’t coercion necessary, especially when it is in response to a grave indecency within the system? Perhaps obligation is a better word.

    thirdly, proof texting and proof historicism will not work here. the rhetoric of “we will share the same fate of Rome!” is silly, apocalyptic, and is a superficial appropriation that carries little similarity to our situation.

    “Justice toward the poor, when freely chosen is a blessed virtue, and worthy of emulation, but when forced upon an unwilling population, it destroys any virtue in both the giver and receiver and only succeeds at further dividing society.”
    -so with this logic, the only way that good will happen in the world is when virtue can be cultivated in the perpetrator. when this is not possible, no good is worth having. so I will stop myself from pulling off a mugger beating Michael up because it is coercive, and does not cultivate virtue in the mugger or Michael, and thus does not produce any good. a conflation of virtue and good will make us a people who do not hold others accountable.

  • I’m late to the game, but hopefully that’s a good thing…time to breathe and relax.

    In Jesus’ time, the Roman government taxed the people on the outskirts of the empire heavily. That included the Jews. Those monies were used to keep Rome strong militarily and to make sure that people in the center of the empire didn’t have to worry too much about their own peace and security.

    In the meantime, Jewish people would lose their land because of a cycle of taxes to Rome and to the puppet-government that Rome installed in Jerusalem. Then, of course, there were the money-traders at the temple…the world’s first tourist economy!

    Let’s put all this in perspective. I’m pretty sure that no u.s. citizen has the right to complain about high taxes. If they make enough to pay taxes, then they live a life of luxury in comparison to nearly every person on the planet in all of history.

    The government is supported by taxes, and it is tasked with providing for the common good. Especially in a ‘democracy’, the taxes should go to providing for the common good.

    President Obama has the largest military budget in history. We have military bases on every continent and personnel in nearly every part of the world (land and sea). We are the only nation to have used atomic weapons. Our nukes and drones can strike anywhere in the world unimpeded. Our satellites keep a watchful eye on everyone. We are the global leaders in media, technology and economic markets.

    More than half of all of our taxes go to support our military power. For conservatives, this should be problematic. The way we go about declaring war (and not declaring war), how and where we go to war…these things go way beyond the constitutional responsibility of ‘defense’. Abraham Lincoln had strong words about allowing the executive to wage preemptive war, and the founders were against meddling in other nations’ business.

    For Christians, it should be doubly problematic, because we have been told to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to bless those who persecute us, and (along with Peter) to put down our swords. We worship a God who would rather suffer violence than cause it.

    In light of all this, doesn’t it make sense that caring for the sick is a better definition of the common good than this sick state of permanent war-making in the name of ‘defense’?

    “Wars are scattered all over the earth with the bloody horror of camps. The whole world is wet with mutual blood. And murder–which is admitted to be a crime in the case of an individual–is called a virtue when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the wicked deeds, not because they are guiltless, but because the cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale!” —Cyprian of Carthage (200-258 C.E.)

    Make no mistake about it: Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden were acts of murder. Like Cyprian, we should see clearly that just because it is done on a wide scale, it’s still murder. When our drones kill 12 women and children to get revenge on one suspected terrorist, how does that bring about the justice of God?

    I’m sad to hear Christians whose concern is that the IRS might take their money. Jesus told his disciples that if the Centurions asked them to carry their equipment one mile, we go two. Ours is not to fear and worry, but to give and serve.

    I’m sad to hear Christians whose concern is that doctors won’t be able to make massive amounts of profits if they become government workers. Isn’t the greatest among us supposed to be a servant? Their job is not to profit, but to care.

    I say we privatize defense. It’s unjust that I pay for your wars. If you want to defend yourself, then hire a private contractor. I don’t think fearing death, being the wealthiest nation or being the only military superpower are virtuous.

    So let’s stop complaining about how little we make or how lazy the poor are and let’s start realizing our own guilt. We have no problem socializing the institutions and technologies that kill. We have no problem subsidizing corporations that defraud the people, abuse the world’s poor and give us diabetes and air pollution.

    If we just rolled back the military to strictly defending we could probably care for every sick person…and probably give them all a college education and a hybrid car while we’re at it.

    I don’t have a single European friend that bemoans socialized healthcare. The doctors make a good living and are glad that their hands aren’t tied. If you’re sick, they take care of you. Those countries aren’t overrun by lazy morons who don’t do anything. In France they have a 35 hour workweek, free healthcare, tons of paid vacation and maternity leave. Their productivity is higher than ours and their health is better.

    Stop and ask yourself: where did I learn to fear socialism? Why am I comparing Holland to Rome? How confident am I that the insurance corporation is really going to be there for me when I’m sick?

    Who does it benefit for me to think this way?

    Not us. We are dying of stress, heart disease, diabetes. We’re dying spiritually because we can’t see the least of these as anything except for do-nothing layabouts. And most of our taxes go to killing people we will never know about and never hear anything about on the news.

    Lord have mercy!

    • The Charismanglican,

      This is an excellent commentary on both history and our current cultural situation! I have nothing to add but AMEN!!!!!!!

      thanks bro!