Who’s in charge here?

On whether taxpayers have responsibility for the well-being of their neighbors, by means of government programs:

In the theocratic state envisioned by the Hebrew prophets (or even, in their critique of every nation) the responsibilities of kings was clear:  plead the cause of the fatherless and widow, demand justice for the poor.  See, for example, Psalm 82:3-4:  Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless, maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.  Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Nations were judged by how well their rulers implemented these simple principles.

In the United States of America, “we the people” (the voters and, yes, the taxpayers) are sovereign.  Therefore “we, the people” are under divine judgment if we fail to use our sovereign power to take care of the elderly, the disabled, the orphan and widows of our world.  “We, the people” as sovereign refers to our corporate role as king, which is to say, the government.  It is laudable for individual persons to do what they can by means of “charity,” but “we, the people” are not just an aggregate of individual persons.  We, together, are king, and as such are answerable to God for how well we rule.

Been meaning to say this for quite a while, but I think it is well worth bearing in mind this August as “we” (in the royal sense) debate with ourselves about health care.

15 thoughts on “Who’s in charge here?

  1. There’s many points to cover in the reply’s to my post, I’ll do my best to respond.

    First, understand that where I disagree with you is not in your intentions. I believe that both therevr and manders are aiming for a noble cause. I also want to thank both of them for offering up many good points. I think the discussion has been fabulous.

    It seems to me that where we disagree is through what conduit we could best achieve the goals were talking about. One thing that I would like to point out, is that although the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation, I don’t believe that the governing majority in the present day is really using the teachings of Jesus, prayer, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to guide them in the decisions they make for their country, and I apply that statement to all political parties. If they were we would not be suffering from many of the moral problems that therevr so acurately described above.

    Now I gather that none of this seems to be a problem for the folks replying above. It seems that as long as we think the goal is going to be met, we really don’t care who’s doing it. Remember, Satan comes as an angel of Light.

    Now for the practical side. The Federal government has a terrible track record when it comes to money managment and entitlement programs. The last I heard “We the people” have a 12 trillion dollar deficit, and thats just what were allowed to know about. That’s not counting all the top secret unoffical weapons systems and golden toilet seats were buying. I’m pretty sure the Bible says something about he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much. Well guess what, we can’t manage what we have. I believe its morally wrong of us to require people to pay into a system that I believe will ultimately lead to further financial decline of our country. I know that part of the goal of this reform is to ultimately reduce the cost of healthcare for both the people and the government, but Ive heard that rant before, Socal Security reform anyone? The question isn’t just “is it right?” but rather will it work? Why do we need to lose 50 cents on the dollar to a government beurocrat for something we could’ve done ourselves?

    So by now everyones thinking what does all that have to do with our faith? And your saying, “This guys not thinking about Jesus, he’s just afraid of federal deficits.” Well, I’m going to try to tie it together.

    Manders stated that he believed thereve was pointing out the obvious, that the church wasn’t doing her job. Now when I talk about the church I’m talking about the Bride of Christ, individual believers, not denominations. If you really think that the church is failing in her responsiblitlies don’t you think we should be puting more of our time, energy, and money into our local congregations? More time into examining ourselves and admitting our own faults just as therev points out? It seems like you’ve just given up on the church completely(remember, we are the church) and since you no longer think the church is capable of performing her duties, you’ve decided to punt those responsibilities(our responsibilities) to the U.S. government and hope that they can sort it out on the basis that its representatives pay lip service to ever shrinking Christian constintuencies in an effort to get votes. It also seems that were not puting our faith in Christ on this one, but rather in our government and our money.

    The last thing I’ll say is that this isn’t a money thing for me. I’m not opposed to sharing the financial load with others in an effort to provide healthcare or other needs to those who go without. I have good healthcare, but if my pastor came to me tomorrow and told me that he’s trying to collect (x) amount of dollars from each member of the congregation so that he could fund a healthcare plan for members of the congregation that dont have health insurance, or even people outside the congregation “those who hate us” I would gladly give time and money to that cause. (which is not a bad idea, I may ask him about that)

    So if nothing else comes out of this at least its made me think of more things that I could at least look into in my own community. I also think that its great that the whole country is at least looking at these problems and trying to decide what to do about them instead of ignoring them.

  2. Good, thoughtful responses by all.

    One point I can’t resist, however: the much-maligned entitlement programs, Social Security in particular, is not a cause of our multitrilion dollar deficits. That particular government program has consistently run a surplus, and still does. I have commented more extensively elsewhere on this blog about that, but suffice for now to say that in the 1980’s, when under Ronald Reagan the Social Security program was brought on-budget for the first time, this helped to mask the size of the deficits produced by those massive expenditures on weapons systems, etc., mentioned above. All the talk we’ve heard ever since about the social security system “running out of money” really is about the time when it will cease to produce surpluses and arrive at a break-even point. So from that standpoint Social Security has not yet needed reform, and is a bad example of government profligacy, in that it does what it is designed to do, and has done so for decades with money to spare. Real reform there would return that money to its intended use, as I argue elsewhere, and thus show the need to reform the rest of the budget. Don’t get me started….. (too late)….

  3. The last thing I’ll say is that this isn’t a money thing for me. I’m not opposed to sharing the financial load with others in an effort to provide healthcare or other needs to those who go without. I have good healthcare, but if my pastor came to me tomorrow and told me that he’s trying to collect (x) amount of dollars from each member of the congregation so that he could fund a healthcare plan for members of the congregation that dont have health insurance, or even people outside the congregation “those who hate us” I would gladly give time and money to that cause. (which is not a bad idea, I may ask him about that)

    I would like to comment on this statement and possibly clarify why some are willing to trust the federal government when it comes to health care. A major point in the debate on health care, from what i’ve seen at least, is reducing the costs of medicines and related operations/visits. From what i’ve heard is that this is done through bulk purchasing (i’m not sure how this effects the visits, but some claim it will reduce the costs of routine checkups (maybe the volume would go up so the price could go down???) but i’m not an expert on the subject).

    I saw a report on health care coops and their effectiveness on television the other day and it was quite informative. The don’t bring down the cost of health care for those subscribed to it to much because of this bulk purchasing power. Why do I bring this up? It is shed some light on why having a local church provide any form of health care relief could be problematic at best. They wouldn’t have the subscribers to effectively bring down the cost of health care. They would however have the additional overhead of someone managing that health care (be it the pastor/father/reverend or a secretary or a new employee, etc…) which could actually drive up the cost. The federal government would in theory have so many subscribers that they would have this bulk purchasing power and cost savings would be realized there. They may waste the savings somehow and the savings for individuals might not be realized but there isn’t any real reason for them to do this since the federal government is not a “for profit” business like current health insurance providers are.

    Will a federally backed health care system work? Probably not in my opinion but I can see why some think it will. I know it is ridiculous for my to pay 560 dollars a month for my families health care when we hardly ever use it. Current health plans are inflexible and don’t really meet the needs of the individual, probably because it’s easier on the insurance company to implement blanket programs. A possible solution could just be to provide ala carte health care thus allowing people to choose what they actually need so they can drive their own costs down. Thus giving the individual more rights/choice over their own health care.

    My statements are purely from a practical stand point and not a religious one. Religion and the federal government could keep me talking for hours and make this way to long. Maybe another day… 🙂

  4. Binksy, I should probably clarify something…. I do have a problem with people looking to the government for answers when only when Christ has the answers. I however do not feel that we, the church, as the collective body of believers, have shown the world we have these answers. Look at the public image the church has in this country via groups like Christian Coalition and Focus on the Family. The reason I mention these two is because they are constantly in the news because of their involvement in the political process. There was an article just last week about Focus having a budget shortfall. Would you like to know what that is largely attributed to? They spent half a million dollars on Prop 8 efforts! CC at least makes no apologies for your donations being involved in the political process, in fact, that is their mission.They are an advocacy group who’s primary focus is to influence public policy. Whether we like it or not, these are examples of the church before the world, groups who identify themselves as Christians, who are manipulating a world system to see their agenda is met. When these groups fall silent on other social issues like health care, or worse, aid in the hateful, truthless propaganda- it is no wonder the world rejects all of us and seeks the government instead!

    I haven’t given up on the church, I’m just frustrated because I am very involved in my local body. I have seen the apathy with my own eyes. I volunteer my skills and serve in church leadership. I plan on taking a grant writing course so we can start applying for (and hopefully obtaining) money to start programs that would benefit our community. I am fortunate enough to be serving under a mantle of earthly leadership who heavily values some of the same things I do. I do not feel there are enough of us focused on the same things…. and to be frank, I simply do not understand why. We spend our time focused on what serves us! We are commanded to love each other (even the others who don’t look or act like us), we are commanded to be in service to others (especially the others who don’t look or act like us), and we are commanded to have unity in the body to accomplish these things. This is in red letters in my Bible. This is Christianity 101. If we can’t pass this class, we have renderred ourselves irrelevant.

    Whether we agree with the methods, or the current plan being proposed, the bottom line is this is about HEALTHCARE. It would ultimately result in providing medical care to people who would not otherwise have access to it. I am willing to hear what the people with power and influence beyond my own have to say on the matter. I may not even have to be in one accord with them on all things to recognize that aspects of their proposal have Kingdom purpose. Again, WWJD. This is a question believer has to answer on a very personal level and answer it based on your intimate knowledge of the Savior. I answer this particular one from the standpoint of what Christ CHOSE to change and what he did not. My answer is he mercifully healed peoples’ afflictions to reflect the glory of God. In doing so they received the gospel. So, if I stand up and say “God cares deeply for you in your affliction”… what is the proper response for me? To knock down a discussion (and serious contemplation) of the only provision by which their needs can be potentially met by what is currently being discussed? It doesn’t sit well with my spirit at all. But, hey, that’s me. That’s my answer. I am not sure I have what is required by the strongest opponents of healthcare reform to ever come around to their way of thinking. God made us different and maybe if we rub our spirits against each other enough they’ll learn gentleness from me, and I’ll learn whatever it is I need to learn from them? *giggles*

    Peace to my brothers… from a *sister* in Christ Jesus.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s