How Should Christians Respond to Health Care Reform?

Posted: March 23, 2010 by Rick Hogaboam in Christ & Culture, Discipleship/Sanctification, Politics
Tags: , , ,

Well, the lawsuits against the new Health Care bill are already being filed by some states, with more to follow. As many as 30 states are opposing the Health Care Bill in some form of state legislation.  I am interested in what will become of this debate and what authority states may have.

It is also interesting to note that Rick Perry will likely win re-election and has mentioned secession as a viable option if the federal government continues to delegate to itself more authority that the people of Texas like. I have already heard some friends say that they would be very interested in moving to Texas if they did secede.

This political climate is unlike anything else I have seen in my lifetime. While I think the health care bill does address some reforms that I personally support, the way in which it was done is utterly repulsive. I am starting to get the feeling from folks around me of the same discontent which led to the revolution our country was founded upon. I don’t know what will become of this discontent.

As a minister of God’s Word, I am bound to urge the church to render to live peacefully as Christian citizens and to submit to Caesar in the things he asks of us. This doesn’t negate the very real protests we can offer in a democratic-republic. The challenge for all of us is to protest heartily if so led, and to then concede and get on with our lives.

John Piper’s prayer for the 2008 election contains some great wisdom for us “Baptistic” types on Christ and Culture (bold type mine):

3) that we would know and live the meaning of

  • being in the world, but not of it,
  • doing politics as though not doing them,
  • being on the earth, yet having our lives hidden with Christ in God,
  • rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s

Though I am Kyperian on cultural engagement in many ways, I am more ‘ana-Baptistic’ on political engagement and feel an uneasiness in getting too preoccupied with the realm of Caesar. Whereas, ‘ana-Baptists’ would withdraw completely, I instead affirm Piper’s sentiment that we should “do politics as though not doing them”. In fact, I would say that we should whole-heartedly “do politics as though not doing them”. That sounds impossible, but the God of wisdom will grant to us a wisdom like a serpent and harmlessness like a dove.

While God also uses means like our advocacy through financial contributions, phone calls, political rallies, etc., let us not neglect the greater means of prayer for His will to be done. There are some Christians who pray that the health care bill will come into law. There are some Christians that pray it will not come into law. What is God’s will in the manner? We may know and yet never know. We may boldly assert that certain aspects of the bill are disagreeable to His revealed will, and also affirm that certain aspects are agreeable to His revealed will. Herein lies the complexity and tension of most all things in the realm of Caesar for the Christian, whose citizenship is in Zion and in Rome. Some Christians are rejoicing over this bill, while others are moaning in displeasure. As a minister of the Word, it is not my job to rejoice with some and groan with others, it is my job to set our eyes on Christ and offer correctives to both those who are rejoicing and those who are mourning. There is an incredible idolatry in rejoicing too much and mourning too much, this is where we must move on as if we were never involved, as if it never happened. We must move our eyes and affections from this passing Rome and her passing Caesars towards the eternal God and the eternal King, Christ Jesus and find our affections to be permanently shaped and molded by His affairs.

  1. Greg Burkheimer says:

    Yes, I think there is something unhealthy for the Christian who becomes obsessed with the affairs of this world. Stand up for what is right and do whatever is in your means (legally) to oppose ungodly legislation. But never let it steal the focus and joy you have in your Savior whose kingdom is not of this world.

  2. Dan Lioy says:

    Rick, I found your post to be irenic, balanced, and thoughtful. Regardless of where one comes down on the politics of this particular issue, God’s covenant people can surely prayer for their civil and religious leaders. Beyond that is the biblical exhortation for believers to walk in step with the Spirit and bear His fruit in their personal / professional lives.

  3. joelmartin says:

    I was going to write a long reply, but it got too long, so I posted it here:

    • I appreciated the the following quote:
      “When we are ready, God will give the robe to us. That He has not done so proves that we are not ready. Asserting our readiness will not fool Him. Let us pray that He does not crush us by giving us such authority before we are ready for it. Let us plan for our great-grandchildren to be ready for it. Let us go about our business, acquiring wisdom in family, church, state, and business, and avoiding confrontations with the powers that be. Let us learn to be skillful in deceiving them and in preserving our assets for our great-grand-children. For as sure as Christ is risen from the grave and is ascended to regal glory on high, so sure it is that his saints will inherit the kingdom and rule in His name, when the time is right.”

  4. Scott Kistler says:

    Thanks for posting your thoughts, Rick and Joel. I’ve got a long way to go in my own understanding of how Christians should relate to political power, but I’m glad to be able to read reflections like both of yours.

    For health care as an individual issue, I think that what Jordan says is spot on when he talks about developing Christian medical facilities. Right now, the political debate centers on how much we trust government or the health care/insurance industry to control the health care system. Neither one seems to offer a good ethos to govern the delivery of health care, given all of the problems with both our system and with national systems.

    Perhaps what Christians should do is to set up a parallel system that offers compassionate, not-for-profit, non-compulsory care in our own communities that doesn’t depend on the force of law or the bottom line of an insurance company. Over time, this could replace the failed models that we see in the secular world.

    • Scott Kistler says:

      Dan and Greg, I skipped over your thoughts when I posted my comments. They provide a welcome dose of perspective about our Christian calling when so many people almost seem to believe that the end is here because of the bill.

  5. Steve Cornell says:

    I would add that not only is it the duty of the minister of God to urge the people of God unto living peacefully in this world, but also to call to repentence those who are guilty of gross sin. In this case, it is the sin of theft and extortion by our government. Ministers of the Word (well, some) do not have a problem with speaking out against the evils of abortion (and rightfully so), but why is it that this is somehow different? The question I would like to know is, Is it ever right for the Christian to take part in civil disobedience? Were our countries forefathers right in rebelling against the King? As I consider the most quoted section of Scripture in this debate for the Christian is Romans 13. As I read it, it seems to me that the context of Romans 13 is speaking of submitting to rulers who are good- see verse 3. Rulers are being spoken of as those who rule righteously. And, although Paul wrote during Nero’s reign, it was (I believe) before Nero went off the deep end and fell headlong into his wickedness. Can overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21) involve saying, “this is wicked, and we will not stand for it!”? Much like the business of saying “No” for a request for help from someone who refuses to work, but is able (and thus enable their laziness). Wouldn’t we say that is the “good” thing to do? I’m just thinking out loud here- not really thinking of revolting–not yet, anyway 😉

    • Steve, I agree that the minister should be a prophet of sorts and urge God’s people to reject certain practices themselves, and to also call upon other to repent of certain actions that we are sure will bring harm upon all people.

      There is some debate on how to read Rom. 13. I happen to think it was Paul’s inspired wisdom birthed out of a concern for the Gospel. The Christians had been expelled from Rome and were now back in the land and Paul wanted the Church to grow and be good citizens. I also happen to think that the Sermon on the Mount offers correctives to a Jewish zealotry for the overthrow of Rome. His Kingdom is not of this world and not advanced through the world’s means. I think that if the Church does a good job being the Church, then the saltiness and light will pervade all things.

      Folks might disagree on how Christians should be engaged politically, but we are all agreed that the Church needs to shine brighter during these times.

  6. joelmartin says:

    Scott, you might find this interesting:

    • Scott Kistler says:

      Thanks, Joel. I think that this is a great idea. I wonder how it has worked in practice. It seems like a good way to get the both the insurance industry and the government out of these decisions.

  7. joelmartin says:

    Steve, I would encourage you to read the Jordan essay I linked on my blog. There is a time for resistance, but we are in no position for that now. It would be a disaster with things ending up worse than they were before.

  8. Steve Cornell says:

    Joel, thanks for the link. Good stuff. Your last statement reminds me of what Doug Wilson recently said in a sermon on Romans 13: “Prefer the devil you know- not the devil you don’t know.”

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