Monday, August 17, 2009

Who is your/my neighbor?

Health Care Reform: For those of us claiming to be followers of Jesus, we have one question to ask when this highly polarizing issues comes up, and I can think of only one... Who is my neighbor?
We answer this question, and this issue becomes much clearer.
For a great article from someone formerly inside the insurance industry:


Anonymous said...

I have a few other questions that might help distill the situation.

1. I am having a tough time making ends meet. Is it OK for people to steal my money to provide health insurance (not the same as health care) for someone else? How do I explain to my kids that stealing is ok?
2. My next door neighbor weighs over 300 pounds and smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day. Should I be able to tell him "I'll help pay for your health insurance on the condition that you drop 100 lbs and drop to a pack a week?
3. My homosexual co-worker has lost count of how many sex "partners" he has had just this year, but is sure the number is somewhere over 40. On many of those occasions he has used intravenous drugs. Must others to be forced against their will to pay for his insurance?
4. Do you really think Jesus would approve of violating the 8th and 10th commandments?

Hope these help!

randy buist said...

Interesting questions I suppose. I don't think fairness is really an issue here. Fairness always has to do with 'me.' Fairness is never an issue with Jesus.

It seems interesting and ironic that God sends his son, Jesus Christ, as a complete act of love, mercy, and grace. Humans didn't deserve anything that God offered, and he he chose to offer everything.

Yet, as supposed followers of Jesus, we really don't want to be distributors of love, mercy, and grace unless it is deserved. We're selfish. Period.

All of our arguments against health care are about our own care. Our neighbor comes is always a far distant second.

From a biblical perspective, when our government takes our money it isn't stealing. Neither is it 'our' money, if we are followers of Yahweh. It's all God's money.

When people who follow Jesus Christ ask, who deserves God's grace or my grace, we are asking the wrong questions. Jesus never asked these questions.

Jesus asked, "Who is your neighbor?" "Who showed mercy?" "Who has done to the least of these?"

The entire gospel is premised on God's mercy and grace. If we are to be followers, we better be willing to sacrifice much too. Otherwise, let's honestly proclaim that we want nothing to do with following Jesus; we just want to be saved from hell.

If we want to keep our money and be saved from hell, then we are really foremost committed to the American dream rather than to following Jesus.

Anonymous said...

I wonder, can you allow for the fact that some people might honestly believe that opposing the health care reforms being pushed through congress could actually, in the long run, be a better way to care for their neighbor than letting it go forward?

Can you allow that the issue is murky and, for followers of Jesus, followers of Yahweh, the clarity might not be as clear?

Harry Richardson, Chicago

randy buist said...

I suppose supporting health care reform could be murky. For some left-wing Christians, so is abortion. I don't condemn them for believing life has little value until birth; I simply think they are wrong and misguided on that particular issue.

On the other hand, if we claim to be followers of Jesus and claim to be pro-life in all aspects of life (not simply anti-abortion), then we don't really have a choice. If we want to be pro-life but not provide good prenatal care, we are not being pro-life. We're being selfish cowards who want our way but won't pay any price to make it happen.

Keeping health care reserved for those of us who are wealthy enough to have it, or for those of us who have jobs good enough to have our employers covering most of the expense -- we have the right to deny it to those with less. It's the American way.

Do we really believe Jesus would have looked at the people without health care and not included them in 'the least of these'? Personally, I can't fathom it.

When we talk about no health care reform because it will be better 'in the long run,' I wonder how it's better for the kids who need their first shots or the single mom who needs pre-natal care.

So, I won't pass judgement on those who fail to support health care reform in terms of forever; I believe we most often keep our resources and money for ourselves rather than being generous.

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to wonder if you are able to see nuance... I work in health care and I can tell you that care is available - one of the big issues with providing care for the 'least of these' is that the care the government offers does not cover the cost nor does it pay quickly. This isn't a matter of greed. Hospitals have a very thin margin and late and low payments by the government create serious problems for providing health care to anyone - in this case the long run is measured in 1-3 years.

You're right, no matter how we structure health care some people will suffer. The question is, which plan is worse? Should we choose one that makes us feel better but hurts far more people in the long run? Or should we oppose ramming a poorly planned reform through congress quickly by attaching religious language to it?

Just because it is done out of a desire to care for the least of these does not mean that wisdom would show it does in fact care for the least of these.

Again when I real your response it seems so simplistic - like by attaching followers of Jesus to something you make it true. It is very very complex and not just like abortion. It's complex because people on both sides want to provide top health care to as many as possible. The problem is it's hard to keep both quality care and provision for everyone. That's the tension.

Harry R.