This will serve as a follow-up to what I’d posted several weeks ago regarding same-sex marriage.
When it comes to ObamaCare, to say “I don’t care” would be way too strong, probably insensitive, and is not accurate. However, to say I get the impression that I personally feel like I care less than the average U.S. citizen probably is fair. Understand now, that I’m saying “I’m not as bothered” in the same way that Jesus said that everyone who came to him had to hate their families (14:26). It’s hyperbole. It’s not that Jesus really wanted people to hate their family members. It was that the love that they had for their family was supposed to look like hatred when compared to the love they had for Jesus.
Similarly, I’m not suggesting that healthcare reform or government mandated and regulated healthcare isn’t a big deal for our country. It is. I’m simply suggesting that in the grand scheme of things, I don’t believe it’s the “end of the world” deal that some are making it out to be. And it seems a little inconsistent to me that so many conservative Christians should be so impassioned about it right now and so comparatively unconcerned about moral evils and social injustices pre-ObamaCare. But now, when it might hit our wallets directly, immorality and injustice in what’s perceived by many as an “unconstitutional law” is intolerable.
Now, I realize it probably sounds a bit insensitive for a relatively young man in relatively decent health to seemingly trivialize the healthcare issue. I don’t have a child with a rare medical condition nor am I elderly. The opinions of those individuals probably should count more on the issue since the healthcare changes would likely affect them more in the immediate future. Nonetheless, to say I don’t have a right to comment on it is a little like saying that the Apostle Paul can’t comment on marriage or children since he was single. He clearly still felt it was his place as a Christian minister, applying divine truth to earthly life.
Truth is, I hate the healthcare bill just like many other Americans. Yes, I believe that healthcare needed some radical reform, but when has the government taking something over ever helped it run more efficiently? Yes, I do think the “tax” does come across as fairly unconstitutional, which makes me uncomfortable in wondering which “guaranteed” constitutional rights might be taken away next (ahem…First Amendment Freedom of Religion!). And that leads me to the biggest issue for me, as for many Christians – the idea that tax dollars would be used to fund abortions despite Pres. Obama’s past claims that the bill would do no such thing is nothing short of tragic. And finally, how much can I trust a federally appointed ethics council (i.e. “death panel”), which clearly values life so little that abortion is being federally funded, to make important decisions regarding life issues?
The hypothetical scenarios here are obvious. Say, for instance, that a child in the womb is known to have Down Syndrome. When the federal budget gets tight, understanding the eventual medical costs that someone with such a condition would incur, what chance do you think there would be for such a child’s life NOT to be taken prematurely? Sensitivity and compassion tend to go away quickly when dollars and cents are on the line.
Unfortunately, I think that we, as a country, made this bed. You’ve probably already heard the “90% of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion” statistic. There’s some debate on those numbers, but whatever the exact number is, it’s very, very high. In other words, the government will probably encourage and carry out what we, as a country, were sadly already doing. And, after all, that’s consistent, because we, as a country, were the ones who elected them into office.
This gets to the heart of what I’m saying here. You don’t have to like the specific form of government, the policies of government, or the leaders in government, but understand, they are simply “representative” of the nation. This IS where our country is at right now. And while it’s probably not fair to point the finger in one direction, I do believe that the Christian church at large has some blame in all of this, falling away from the inspired biblical standards and not following through on biblical discipline.
So….again, I don’t like the healthcare bill. Nonetheless, I do think it’s an accurate representation of where our country is currently at spiritually. I do think the Christian church in America deserves some of the blame for that. And finally, I don’t think that disapproval over current government actions should be an excuse for Christians to slip into something that Jesus, Peter, and the Apostle Paul themselves refused to slip into – verbal attack or physical rebellion against God’s institution of government, something we don’t have a right to unless we are specifically being forced to sin (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14; Acts 5:29).
To more eloquently sum up my feelings, I’d like to echo the reaction of minister John Piper to Pres. Obama on abortion:
“The only newly originating life in the universe that lasts forever is man. This is an awesome thing. And as everyone knows, that reverence is not shared by our new president…..He is trapped and blind in a culture of deceit. And on the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade last Thursday he released this statement: ‘We are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters’…..No, Mr. President, you are authorizing the destruction of freedom for 1 million little human beings every year…..We pledge that we will pray for you.” (Excerpt from the message The Baby In My Womb Leaped for Joy by John Piper, January 25, 2009)
So, instead of complaining about what we don’t like, how is ObamaCare an opportunity for Christians to let their light shine?
1) Put Our Money Where Our Mouths Are
The new ObamaCare mandate will force Christian institutions like schools, hospitals and charities to subsidize the insurance costs of employees that purchase birth control pills, sterilization coverage and abortion-inducing drugs. If Christian groups fail to provide their employees these kinds of coverages, they will be severely fined. The current number appears to be around $2000 per employee.
Nobody likes to pay for things unnecessarily. However, generally people don’t mind paying for things that they value highly. How much do you value your Christian faith? How much do churchgoers value the ones who teach them the truths of the gospel? In recent history, it’s been pretty inexpensive to be a Christian in America and I don’t know that that has done anything for spiritual vitality. We tend to appreciate things more when they cost us something. What kind of testimony might it give to the world if Christian institutions would willingly pay $2000 per employee for the sake of their biblical belief of the integrity of human life.
Did you know that post-delivery murder of babies (we’ll call it “abortion”) was very common in the Roman Empire too? The Christians didn’t participate though. In fact, they would welcome other babies into their community at the expense of the community. In other words, they paid dollars out of their own pockets to spare human lives. Not surprisingly, this presented a more beautiful reality to their society that led others to investigate the Christian faith. Don’t you think that might have the same effect today?
2) Demonstrate No Fear in Death
Do you realize how the truth of the Resurrection alters your perspective on this life? Yes, you intellectually know about the Resurrection facts. But to what degree do you believe them and implement them in your approach to life?
In Keith Getty’s famous modern hymn In Christ Alone, the final verse starts out with the line “No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the pow’r of Christ in me.” Furthermore, the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 1:22-23, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” The anticipation that Christians will have towards their own death may very well come off to the rest of the world as a bit morbid. At the very least, it’ll make people curious.
Christians have joy in the proposition because they recognize that in death, they finally get to go home. Two of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes read, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” and “Read history and you find that Christians who did most for the present world were those who thought most of the next.”
If, under the ObamaCare system, I knew I was dying, needed a transplant, and that it came down to either me or someone else, I honestly don’t know how I wouldn’t defer to the other person. I’m not trying to be a hero. It’s simply what my faith would lead me to as a logical conclusion. On the basis of Jesus’ grace and merit – his righteousness and gifted forgiveness – I know where my future lies and it’s going to be BETTER than here! Why would I have such reluctance in leaving this fallen world?!
The cynic might argue, “Well, don’t you care about your family and all whom you’d leave behind?!” ANSWER: The gospel says that I have a God who loves my family even more than I do and, as God, knows better than even me how to take care of them and has unlimited resource to do so. Furthermore, he’s given me a church that would never let them be without clothes or food or shelter. So, no, I logically have nothing to fear and God has commanded me not to.
These are only a couple of ways in which I could imagine Christians taking an unfortunate ObamaCare situation and turning it into a way to glorify the name of Jesus. There are others.
The energy and wind spent lambasting national leaders is better spent humbly serving others and spreading the message of a gracious Savior who died to save others and encourages us, when necessary, to do the same (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16). For now, we still remain in a nation that allows us to freely gather as Christians to worship our Savior. Remember how historically and culturally unique that is – still something to be tremendously grateful for.
Romans 13:1-7 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Augsburg Confession (Civil Government – Article XVI): “For the Gospel teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart (Romans 10:10). At the same time, it does not require the destruction of the civil state or the family. The Gospel very much requires that they be preserved as God’s ordinances. Therefore, it is necessary for Christians to be obedient to their rulers and laws. The only exception is when they are commanded to sin. Then they ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).”
WELS, This We Believe, VIII, 6, 7, 9 We reject any attempt by the state to restrict the free exercise of religion. We reject any views that look to the church to guide and influence the state directly in the conduct of its affairs….We reject any views that hold that citizens are free to disobey such laws of the state with which they disagree on the basis of personal judgment.