Jesus and Universal Healthcare
I am again hearing people say that Christians should support or lobby for universal healthcare…because Jesus would have. Somehow, to be unpersuaded is to be rather unChristian.
To my mind, healthcare is a good but is not a right. And that leaves me conflicted. However, I do not have the right to demand of anyone that they provide me healthcare unless it has been contractually promised.
Of course, a government may promise universal healthcare and then be obligated to such promises. But governments are notorious for growing bureaucracies, lining their own pockets, equivocating, hesitating, and rationing. And the latter shouldn’t surprise us as the relevant resources are radically limited; they are scarce.
Jesus and Healing
To assert that Jesus advocated anything even resonating with what is proposed as universal healthcare in any country today comes off to me as a strange claim.
• Sure, Jesus healed people, but that was through the power of the Spirit and not the power of the state or of hospitals or of clinics or of doctors.
• His were acts of miraculous grace and not an acts of coercion whereby the wealth of someone else was taxed in order to provide healthcare.
• On top of that, Jesus simply did not heal everyone or perform miracles everywhere. Indeed, in the sermon at his home synagogue in Nazareth he noted how God’s miraculous grace in healings or provisions is neither universal nor exclusive to Israel (see Luke 4).
And the Old Testament
Some attempt to take Deuteronomy or some other Old Testament book or theme as supporting universal healthcare. This too comes off as rather dubious.
• Why cherry pick passages when you can have it all, theocracy and all, along with judicial penalties for idolatry, for immorality, for injustice?
• Would this not lean toward the fallacy of supposing that any and every nation around the world should be seen as, or at least should imitate, ancient Israel? Surely we’re not dipping our toes into the “we are the new Israel” swamp, are we?
• But if we’re not going to take it all, perhaps we’re reframing what we do take such that it no longer actually accords with the concerns of the Old Testament. In other words, we’re equivocating by relocating words into a different matrix of meaning.
Others use Jesus’s parable of the good Samaritan to argue for state-run universal healthcare.
• This parable rightly challenges us to be generous and caring, despite how we might become ritually impure or be prejudiced or whatnot.
• It challenges us also to be generous, to be charitable, though it stops seriously short of prescribing that the state coerce charity (by means of taxes) from people to provide universal healthcare.
• To suppose that the parable somehow supports a burgeoning government bureaucracy that greedily siphons off wealth on its way toward promoting public health surely is to over-read the parable.
To reiterate, I think healthcare is a good but not a right. I think it is good that we give generously to help others who are in need, whether in need of healthcare or comfort or clothing or food. But I do not see such provisions as rights.
To my mind the state is not the church, taxes are not tithes, compulsion is not compassion, coercion is not charity, gargantuan government is not personal generosity.
Note: I was hesitant to post this as people can be so much more vicious online. But a variety of people have indicated that they’d like to share these thoughts that I posted elsewhere online. So, here is to risking my mental health.