Podcast #77: ObamaCares?

Podcast #77: ObamaCares? March 24, 2010

It’s safe to say that Sunday night’s passing of health care reform is, at the moment, the undeniable elephant in the room. As one who likes to keep up with his twitter and Facebook feeds, I for one struggled not only to keep up, but to keep from suffering from real anxiety as everyone made a point to weigh in on what is surely one of the most important political events in the last year. Of course, those in favor of the bill see it as a significant step forward in providing basic human rights to the whole of America’s population, which those not in favor of the bill see it as the beginning of the end of our american democracy as we know it. So the question is: are either of them right?

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  • Josh

    Hey guys, @crynyd here. I have to say, while the first crack at interpreting my feelings is a good point, the second, “classic libertarian” standpoint was more what I’m going for, and although I tend to align myself with libertarian ideas, that wasn’t really my motivation here. I guess it’s a marriage of the two takes y’all had, really. I’d like for left-leaning Christians to realize that, while we do need to be taking care of the poor, sick, and needy, it’s way better if that care is initiated by the church and not passed on to the government (but apparently as a body we’re clearly lacking the compassion/charity to drive that care). And then I guess I’d like for right-leaning Christians to, first, recognize that taking care of the needs of others should be among our top priorities (if not the top priority) and that the church does need to be doing a better job of it, and, second, like you discussed, not lose sight of the reality of Christ’s love in approaching politics, because in all situations, that is what we should be aspiring to display, and polarized, hateful arguing doesn’t do that.

    Thanks for the discussion, guys!

  • On thing that is nice about this reform bill is that it will soon be easier on my wife’s family. Her sister has all sorts of medical conditions due to birth defects and they have a devil of a time getting health care for her. As well, her dad recently retired from many years as a pastor and they had to shop around for new insurance (no longer being carried by their congregation) and it’s been very hard. Not only is there the daughter’s pre-existing conditions to consider but my wifes mother had a couple spots of skin cancer removed years ago and insurance companies are counting that as a pre-existing condition as well.

    It’s always tough to hear the abominable sloganeering of the teabaggers (whose grasp on political history seems minimal at best) as they pit this in terms of those who have worked hard versus those who are lazy. I know a lot of hard workers who are not wealthy and a lot who have pre-existing medical conditions. If I ever lose my job (something not unheard of in our economy) or change jobs, I’d lose my quote-unquote good insurance and the idea of trying to get re-insured with some of the health problems and surgeries I’ve had is a nail-biting proposition.

    It’s kind of a shame that many in the conservative church don’t raise a fist in the air against our government’s requisitioning of far more money than health reform require in order to end the lives of a million-and-change on foreign soil while they’re happy to shout uncharitable generalities over something that would help the less fortunate for what one might consider comparative chump-change.

    For those keeping score: I’m largely libertarian in my approach to American governmental issues and I can see how governmentally-provided healthcare is more consistent with libertarian principle than the last decade of war could ever be.

  • I just want to say that I don’t have time for all the interesting and worthwhile things that are being written on this blog! Seriously I mean that. I really wanted to write and give my two cents on this issues really badly but I just didn’t have time this week–so you guys just did the podcast without my input!!!! Which is totally fine and I am glad you did it, I am excited to listen to what I expect to be some thoughtful and fair discussion of health care.

    I hope to listen to this podcast soon. And I really mean this–I think so much of what is going on our site (I guess I can say our, even though Rich is really the CAPC mastermind) is quality stuff. Commercial over.

  • Adam Carrington

    Rich and Ben,

    Good discussion of the issue that we certainly can’t ignore. It is a game-changer in our understanding of government’s role and the meaning of liberty (both sides claim liberty but seem to have increasingly diverging though well-intentioned meanings).

    Dane, I understand from your post that this issue has intensely personal elements. Though I would caution that calling the Tea Party movement “tea-baggers” as it stems from a disparaging mocking involving a pretty lewd sexual act takes part of some of the same “abominable sloganeering” that you decry in some of them.

    I do think many people, including a good number that call themselves “tea partiers” are very well-informed on this issue and are not something akin to war-mongers or historical idiots. It is at best an open question that this bill will be helpful and they know that. It is not uninformed to say that a general lowering of the quality of care, future rationing of certain services, and less control/choice in making important medical decisions are all quite possible as a result of this move. Much more, this bill really doesn’t do anything to address the rising cost of health care. In fact, the pre-existing conditions portions of the law, un-evened by other necessary changes, will likely drive premiums up at an even greater rate than before, making it even harder to afford from both the state and the individual perspective. None of these points reveals a selfish disdain for those hurting under the current system. In fact, it argues that this bill fails to address many of the real, underlying problems. We need health care reform. We need to address the problem of pre-existing conditions and those who can’t get care. But this is not the only, or in my opinion a good solution.

    Thus, Christians can oppose this bill and do so without neglecting our Gospel-mission to care for others in society. It is quite possible that in arguing against it, as long as other better ideas are put out (and they have been, see especially Indiana’s changes), Christians could in the long run be better serving those in need. Time will of course tell but my money would be on it doing much more long-term harm than good.

  • Hey Adam, I agree that believers can certainly opposed the health care bill and still retain compassion for the less fortunate. Despite being in favour of reforming a clearly broken system and not being opposed in principle to the concept of governmental provision of a national healthcare (as it fits in nicely with the idea that the government’s sole business is to support the life, liberty, and property of its citizens), I’m not sure I even support it—as I don’t understand the ins and outs of it well enough to give it a yea or a nay.

    While my current interest in healthcare reform may be biased by position of the family I’ve married into, my support of reform existed before I even met my wife. Still, I’ve never been one to snub my nose at the opportunities for empathy that God drops in our paths.

    I think you’re talking apples and oranges when you compare the term teabaggers to sloganeering. Here’s why. While teabagger may be taken and intended as derogatory, there’s no content or substance to the attack. It’s the intellectual equivalent of saying “You’re dumb.” Certainly not helpful, but absolutely not as harmful as the misinformation spread through sloganeering and propaganda. Talk of death panels, socialism, Hitler, unconstitutionality (without backing up what one means by that), et cetera—these things are more harmful because they skew understanding and remove the issue from the realm of dialogue. They prey on fears and prejudices.

    Now clearly, not everyone who disagrees with Obama’s health reform policies (in any of their evolving forms) are not involved in that and not even everyone (I presume) in the Tea Party thingy are utilizing such base propaganda. But (!) the overwhelming perception that the movement conveys through both negative and positive media portrayals shows a group that is not interested in lucid explanation or defense of their ideas. The Tea Party groups convey instead a message of fear and anger and rage and mob instinct.

    Even if I were doggedly attempting to discredit Obama’s plan, I would without question seek to distance myself from the Tea Partiers.

    As for their understanding of the historical significance of the Tea Party? I find it lacking in almost every quarter. I’m no expert in the history of the American Revolution, but my slim understanding runs as follows. The Boston Tea Party was an act of insurrection against a government the colonists wished to slough off. It was vandalism, subversion, and an illegal action designed to hurt the government. It was an important step on the stairway to open rebellion.

    Now if the Tea Party is planning rebellion against the United States, that’s one thing. If their goal is insurrection, then I am perfectly fine with the name (though if I were them, I’d probably go with something more subtle unless they want the Red Coats (the US authorities) to come down on them like a sack of bricks). But from what I gather, the Tea Party movement is not trying to slough off the yoke of the American empire but is simply trying to drum up political support against what they see as a harmful direction for the nation’s leaders.

  • Hey guys,

    Interesting comment discussion.

    One point I would make is that it isn’t quite correct to say that the bill does nothing to address “the underlying causes of rising health care costs.” The fact of the matter is that there isn’t widespread agreement on what all of those underlying causes are.

    The health care bill takes the position that a key underlying cause of rising costs is the massive uninsured population and the way they drain money from the system. This position is absolutely and uncategorically true. The uninsured consist of two main groups: First, the young, healthy, and just above poor. Second, those with preexisting conditions (age, history of sickness, etc.).

    The problem here is that the health insurance market is entirely different from normal marketplaces. It is dependent on the strength of the pool… in other words, it DEPENDS on people paying for insurance who usually don’t need it. When the young and healthy don’t participate, it weakens the pool and forces insurance companies to raise their premiums. By forcing everyone to get insurance, the bill intends to strengthen the pool overall so that premiums can be lowered.

    The other problem is that when people with preexisting conditions (or the young and healthy but uncovered) get sick or hurt, they go to the hospital. A hospital is required by law to accept everyone, and to spare no expense in healing them. When you have large numbers of people being given free healthcare (because they can’t pay for the costs themselves), free housing, free food, free medical supplies, a free chunk of doctor and nurse work time, etc, that’s a huge drain on the system.

    But if everyone is covered, catastrophic cases are insured by the pool, which massively lowers hospital overhead, which allows them to cut costs (especially non-profits, which must justify their profit margin to governments and boards).

    So while it is true that the bill doesn’t address EVERY underlying cost contributor (such as, say, the problem of medical malpractice insurance), it does take on probably the single largest cost problem in healthcare today.

    Further, the idea that competition is ALWAYS healthy in every circumstance is untrue. For instance, if you have six insurance companies competing for business in a town with one hospital, costs are actually HIGHER than if there were, say, two insurance companies. The reason for this is that a hospital is a near physical monopoly… a bottleneck, if you will.

    If your insurance company controls only one sixth of the market, a hospital will get favorable concessions from you because you have no leverage… they can afford to ignore you. But if you control half the market, they can’t afford to ignore you and you get better rates overall.

    So in this case, over-encouraging competition in the insurance sector can be detrimental to costs unless there is some way of encouraging competition in the hospital sector… a tall order since a hospital is such an incredible investment up front.

    I spent some time working for two lobbying firms, one for hospitals and one for pharmacists, and I can tell you… the healthcare market is one of the most counter-intuitive you will ever find!

    Anyways, it will certainly be interesting to see what happens.

  • Good points, Ben. My wife was just discussing the related issue of the high cost of emergency room care—and how much of that price tag is to defray the costs of giving aid to the uninsured. I had an ER trip a year ago for a lacerated hand (knife-fighting and all) and what would have cost me a ten-dollar co-pay under normal circumstances ended up costing me $150 after insurance.

  • Jason

    “But if everyone is covered, catastrophic cases are insured by the pool, which massively lowers hospital overhead, which allows them to cut costs (especially non-profits, which must justify their profit margin to governments and boards).”–Sure this is true, but, where does the government get the authority to force me to buy health insurance, or then fine me if I don’t pay into the pool. Sounds more like a tax to me. The govenrnment has no say of the items I can and should purchase.

    “governmental provision of a national healthcare (as it fits in nicely with the idea that the government’s sole business is to support the life, liberty, and property of its citizens)” –Healthcare is not a right. It would be the peoples role to support life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not the governmets. We the people were meant to own the government, not the other way around.

    “The Boston Tea Party was an act of insurrection against a government the colonists wished to slough off. It was vandalism, subversion, and an illegal action designed to hurt the government. It was an important step on the stairway to open rebellion.” –Your right, and if it wasn’t for those (so called) dispicable acts we would still be the property of the king. The question is, you think they were wrong, but did God? Because our country was founded on principles, and ideas found in the Bible, and clearly God has blessed this country untill man began ignoring His word.

    If an outright rebellion is what it takes, then I’m in. We were granted, by our forefathers, the right to keep and bear arms because “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government” -Thomas Jefferson And a tyrannical government is what it is becoming. Eventually we will have to take our country back, and when that day comes, I will be ready. I really hope it doesn’t come to that.

    “Get your waders on boys! $^&%’s (fecal matter) gettin deep”

  • Matt

    Josh has read my mind (and put it better than I could). While I know it is a gross over-simplification, couldn’t Christians view this “healthcare for all” as a conduit for our charity and compassion? Couldn’t it be viewed as an opportunity to show grace (even more so when it undeserved!).

    I’m not saying that we should not hold our Government accountable for how they manage the system. I’m not saying that those who abuse the system should be overlooked. I’m saying that, in the same vein of “slaves obey your masters”, we can take advantage of any situation and glorify God through it.

    In addition, I don’t want to give anyone any excuse to say that followers of Christ (Right or Left) are against helping those who cannot help themselves.

  • @Rich and Ben. I said this in my link on Facebook, but thanks for this discussion. I thought it was very well done in two respects. 1. I think the comments you interacted with on the podcast gave us a good sampling of what Christians are thinking about this issue. 2. You handled these differing opinions with charity and honesty.

    @All–this discussion has been very informative.

    I have really tried hard this week to think through this issue. I guess I still don’t understand the bill well enough to know whether it will really be a great thing or not.

    Yesterday I had just about decided that I thought it was a good thing because people with pre-existing conditions will be covered and that is exciting. Here is my struggle though. Part of me feels like if our country has the money to provide health care for those who cannot afford it, then why not do that? I do not think health care is a right, I can’t get my head around what makes it a right and not a privilege. But it is a good thing isn’t it? to help those with preexisting conditions get health care and even some of those who can’t afford it, get insurance?

    But here is my question–are we truly helping people this way? Sure some people will receive much needed help and there is no doubt that those with preexisting conditions shouldn’t be denied coverage (I think everyone believes that). But by providing health care for those who cannot afford it, are we encouraging people to rely more on the government?

    It could be argued, and I think a few level headed folks are making this argument, that giving health care to the poor at almost little or no cost encourages them to remain where they are at–in poverty. In other words it doesn’t actually help them at all–it hurts them because it takes away incentive to work harder and consequently provide more faithfully for their families.

    I share all this to say, that I am confused, I feel the pull on both sides. I think it is wicked that people with preexisting conditions cannot get coverage and I am thrilled that this bill seems to address that issue. But I also have to wonder whether this bill will truly help some of the poorest people in our country.

    @Ben–you seemed to indicate in the podcast that you think many European countries will likely become a welfare state. Are there any European countries that we see this in already? The story I keep hearing (albeit from the Dems) is that everyone in countries with socialized medicine (other than 3rd world countries) is happy and everyone is covered. Is socialized medicine taking a toll any where in particular?

    Is there a way to have socialized medicine without moving toward a welfare state?

    If so how is this bill doing that (if at all)?

  • @Jason, just because God allowed our country to rebel and gain independence from England does not mean that all of our acts were righteous. I think The Dane is right here.

    Taxation without representation is not a biblical justification for insurrection. There was all kinds of taxation without representation in the Roman world and Jesus simply told folks to “give to Caesar wha is Caesar’s” (Luke 10:24-25). And both Peter and Paul tell us to “be subject to the ruling authorities.”

    Peter says it best in 1 Peter 2:17–“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” Fear God. Honor the emperor. So long as the government is not trying to force me to disobey God, I will obey them. Raising my taxes to pay for someone else’s health care (as you perceive it anyway, I think that is a little bit of oversimplification) is not forcing you to disobey God. You may not think it fair or good or even right, but it is not biblical grounds for insurrection.

    As Christians, our primary concern ought to be to make disciples–you are free to do that whether you have to pay more taxes or not and whether medicine is socialized or not.

  • Hey Drew,

    Wow, nobody will ever accuse you of being unambitious with your questions!

    Some of those questions have very long answers and I won’t be able to do them justice, but I can give you a quick overview of my thoughts and maybe that can be a helpful jumping-off point.

    1. What makes provision of health care a right and not a privilege?

    This is a pretty key point of contention in political circles. Generally the Democrats will say, “It’s a right, therefore anything supporting it is justified.” The argument is that “life and the pursuit of happiness” can’t work if a person can’t get health care. Meanwhile the Republicans will say, “It’s a privilege, therefore it should work itself out in the marketplace.” The argument here is that government has a limited set of functions and should not go outside those functions.

    Personally, I mix the two. I would tend to agree that health care is not a right to be assured and underwritten by the government. However, I have no problem with a government elected by the people deciding that expanded health insurance coverage stengthens the union as a whole. Many times in politics, officials take increasingly extreme positions for the sake of making small changes, like an intense match of tug-of-war. Why does healthcare have to be a right? Why can’t the government invest in the health of the country? Thankfully, what tends to happen over time is that the philosophical extremes balance each other out and you (mostly) get middle-ground positions.

    2. Does expanded, governmentally supported health care encourage reliance on the government?

    This is a really good, really hard question. I think most people can agree that one huge problem of programs like welfare and social security is that they have allowed and even fostered systemic poor citizenship in certain circles. It has been proven again and again that one of the biggest barriers to indigent people becoming self-supporting is that the cultural reliance on government (and even a sense of deserving that governmental support) is viewed as the norm in the circles they grow up in, and this predisposes them to prefer it over a life of hard work.

    However, we also have to ask what kind of a place the US would be if there were no welfare system. It is likely that the conditions of poverty would be much more extreme, and that these conditions in their own way would be an equally massive drain on the economy. So, it’s tough from the get-go to say for sure which situation is preferable. As for me, I tend to go for reformed welfare, with better focus on welfare as a temporary help rather than lifelong financial support.

    For healthcare, though, I think it’s a different issue. With Medicaid, the indigent ALREADY are supported by the government, and your premiums would be way higher if they weren’t. The population that is uninsured (and is the focus of this bill) tends to be people who are young and working, but don’t feel financially secure enough (or feel invincible enough) to pay for health insurance. It seems unlikely that the combination of being forced to buy health insurance and getting help doing so will somehow encourage reliance on the government.

    To the larger question, how should Christians think about the ethics of reliance on then government, I don’t know the answer for sure. It’s a great thing to investigate. But I would add this caution.. in general, I think our love of self-reliance is more of an American capitalistic perspective than a necessarily Christian one. We should be careful how quick we are to assume the rightness of a perspective that is strongly informed by our cultural values (For example, one thing I notice in Chinese churches is that they sometimes put too much focus on discipline and authority of elders. Those things DO have their place in the Christian life, but because they are also Chinese CULTURAL values, they sometimes get more weight than they deserve in the Chinese Church.)

    3. How has socialized medicine worked out in other places?

    This question and others like it are wildly popular in political circles, because everyone loves case studies to support their particular argument. The problem is that they very easily ignore differences in circumstance.

    So, many will cite low crime rates in towns with high gun ownership to support gun ownership. Others will cite low crime rates in countries where guns are banned to say that guns should be banned. These arguments highlight something important… there is more than one factor going on in any situation.

    So I hesitate to cite examples and suggest the same thing will happen here. Keep in mind that very few countries are as diverse or have as wide a mix of cultures as the US. And very few places have the complexity yet rigidity of our legal and regulatory environment.

    Further, it’s very hard to measure how different systems interact. We might say that a certain European country has a much more effective (socialized) health system than the US. But often, the vast majority of medical innovations in that system came from the US originally, because our system fosters that innovation through economic incentives.

    So I would say this… feel free to research other countries and how they handle health care, but be extremely careful about acting as if wholesale application of their systems to our situation will work out in the way you expect.

    4. Can we have socialized medicine without moving toward/being a welfare state?

    I think it’s possible, yes. But as you point out, there’s a danger that if we rely on the government in this area we’ll want to do so in other areas as well.

    One thing I will say for certain. We are nowhere near as socialized (even after this bill goes into effect) as England, which is nowhere near as socialized as France, which is nowhere near as socialized as, say, the Netherlands or Sweden. So not to fear! We have a lot of time ahead of us to evaluate how well this system works, and to see what changes need to be made in our local context.

    Geesh… all this makes me thankful I believe in a sovereign God!

  • @Drew – Also interesting is how the command to honour the emperor brings to mind the command to honour your mother and father.

    @Ben – I would agree that healthcare is not a right. But then I also do not believe that property ownership is a right. I think both are good things that the government can legislate about and around in order to strengthen the nation. The right vs. privilege language strikes me as wholly unhelpful—which is probably why politicians are so keen to capitalize on it.

    The purpose of having a good) government, as I understand it, is for the benefit of the society that submits itself to that government. And I guess the purpose of the better government would be for the benefit of the society that submits to itself and then for the general benefit of those who stand outside its governance (i.e. the rest of the world). The general health of a citizenry benefits the nation as a whole because a stronger, healthier nation is a nation whose concerns can be directed toward more improving pursuits (I’m cribbing from Maslow’s hierarchy here).

    “The vast majority of medical innovations in that system came from the US originally, because our system fosters that innovation through economic incentives.” Do you think it’s fair to say that much of that innovation is also subsidizes by government research grants?

    *note: there can, of course, be many reasons for bad governments: the power, wealth, prestige, etc. of its leaders.

  • Dane,

    That’s a much larger discussion. Property as a right is pretty ingrained into our cultural and political structure… in fact I’m pretty sure the document the Constitution was based on actually said, “life, liberty, and property” rather than pursuit of happiness. You’ve got a long way to go to convince any Americans (or the original John Locke, for that matter) that “work=ownership” and the resulting implications and swaps is a false construction.

    I’m not really sure about your construction of the purpose of government. It seems a little Utopian to me… and I mean that in the original sense of the word – it’s nowhere.

    A government is essentially the administrator of a defined group of people, but it’s the rare case where an “actualized” nation seeks to benefit the world. Even the US, perhaps the most charitable nation in history, picks and chooses based on its own needs or desires.

    And sure, of course government research grants help quite a bit in fostering innovation. But those grants aren’t nearly as strong an incentive as 10 years of copyright on a new drug that senior citizens are going to demand from their doctor the minute they see it on TV.

  • You’re right, it is rare that an actualized nation seeks the good of other nations. This was the mandate of OT Israel (though admittedly a rare case) which is, I think, enough to demonstrate that the idea is worth consideration, but I in nowise think that a good government has to render aid to those around it.

    (I am an isolationist, after all, and I would look pretty silly if I believed interventionist policy was essential for a good government.)

    As far as rights go, I’m fine with the conception of property rights as a right conveyed by one’s government (i.e. an arbitrary right vs. a natural right). To that end, I’m also fine with calling healthcare a right if its conveyed as such by our government. But to call it a natural right is something I don’t think our government has ever cared to acknowledge. After all, the US has destroyed property for ages. Every time we bomb a country we’re destroying property without recompense, so we cannot be viewing property rights as some kind of inalienable right natural to all humans but instead a right conveyed by our government to those to whom they wish to convey it.

  • @Ben–thanks for addressing my ambitious questions. Your comments here and on the podcast have been very helpful.

    1. I essentially agree with you here. I don’t think health care is right but that doesn’t mean that our government should not work to regulate it. I really do hope that this bill helps people with preexisting conditions get coverage and I especially hope it results in some of the poorest folks in our country getting care as well. I don’t think enough “evangelicals” are saying that.

    I still don’t really know if this bill is a good solution to the problem with our health care system or not. But I can hope so. It is probably a bit more middle of the road than most realize, I suppose time will tell and certainly I suspect we will see revisions.

    2. I think I agree with you on reformed welfare too. And you are right this is a really big question and I think you are right to remind us of our tendency in America to elevate self-reliance, I think that is something we need to be more aware of.

    “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” should be applied to members of our local churches–because we ought to be in the businesses of helping real people in ways that are actually helpful. I am not sure we ought to be applying that verse to our government or our country as a whole.

    If any thing, as a pastor, this whole thing has challenged me to be even more proactive in the way that I seek to help those in need. This bill will not cure the fact that our nation is full of needy people. And we as Christians are called to help them. There is already an assumption that this will alleviate all our medical problems, but I doubt that and this just reminds me that I need to be proactive here.

    Thanks for your input on 3 and 4, those are big questions too and I was curious as to your thoughts.

  • Jason

    @ Drew
    “Peter says it best in 1 Peter 2:17–”Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” Fear God. Honor the emperor. So long as the government is not trying to force me to disobey God, I will obey them. Raising my taxes to pay for someone else’s health care (as you perceive it anyway, I think that is a little bit of oversimplification) is not forcing you to disobey God. You may not think it fair or good or even right, but it is not biblical grounds for insurrection”

    Very interesting. Have you looked at our leaders. Our president is for abortion. This I can say from his actions during the votes. He did not want to give up that part of the bill, it was a last minute throw away to win a vote, and it is still in the bill. By the way abortion is murder.

    Our military, those who are meant to protect us, are ok with homosexuals in the military. Either by their wanting or by the governments force, the homosexuals are there, and wanted for diversity.

    There are tax cheats left and right among our leaders, yet if I cheat it is somehow wrong. And these are the example I am meant to follow.

    Our nation is in debt with a country that kills christians, and does not allow us to preach there. So by such we are slaves to a Godless nation.

    So my question to you would be this:
    Should we follow leaders who do not follow God?

    If so, by what means? They may not tell me I cannot worship God, but they spit on God and force me to do the same by making my taxes pay for abortions, by forcing me to keep my mouth shut because calling homosexuality sin is hate speech, and by making me a slave to a leader overseas who does keep his people from worshiping God.

  • There is far too much to address in your initial comment and I don’t have the time, so I will just go straight to your question because in quoting 1 Peter 2:17 you answered it yourself.

    The leaders that Peter called his readers to honor were not Christians, Read Romans 13–neither were the ones Paul encourages the church at Rome to submit to. So yes we should obey our leaders even if they don’t follow God–what Presidents have we had in America that were evangelical Christians anyway? Not many at all, only one that I know of professed to be an evangelical Christian.

    Be obedient to God first, submit to your leaders in all cases, except when they demand that you sin. I am not sure that your taxes are going to fund abortions, that at least is very unclear.

    I also don’t know why homosexuals in the military bothers you, we have let liars murderers and adulterers into our military as long as I can remember

  • Hey Shortpants. Paying taxes to a nation and/or leader who does evil has never been biblically considered taking part in that nation and/or leader’s evil actions. As Drew points out, Christ encouraged everyone to pay taxes to Rome and Paul exhorts believers to submit to Rome and Peter admonishes believers to honour Rome. Rome and its leaders were far worse than any government you’re likely to live under. Homoesexual activity and pedophilia was not uncommon amongst the Roman senate and cultural elites. The Roman empire was tyrannical. The people of Rome bloodthirsty. The taxes Rome collected were entirely without representation and were used to ill ends.

    Yet, according to a biblical version of Christianity, believers were to honour, obey, and pay taxes to just such a government. And there is never any suggestion in Scripture that they should feel uneasy about such loyalties. Quite the opposite, such behaviour is shown to be the way of righteousness (and on the contrary, refusal to do so would belie unrighteousness and sin).

    In an earlier thread, you lamented that more Americans were not Bible-believing and Bible-living people. I’ll just let that sit there and hope that I’m not being too subtle.

  • susan

    Sorry, I know I’m late to the party, but I might need to listen to this podcast tomorrow.

    The comments are quite fascinating to read from the other side of the world, in a country where we have socialised medicine. I think most Australians would consider healthcare a right; health insurance is available to everyone that can afford it, but is more a privilege often used to reduce waiting times.