There is a lot talk right now about the current health care plan (HR 3200) sitting in Congress. A couple months ago, Democrats tried pushing the "Public Option" through Congress so fast that we later learn most of them didn't read the bill. In August, during Congress' recess, Democrats caught an earful from angry constituents about the Public Option's plan of dipping into Medicare, shrinking the market of private insurance companies, and costing taxpayers an extra trillion dollars as estimated by the Congressional Budget office.
In August, Rasmussen polls showed a declining support for the Public Option. In a last ditched effort, President Obama decided to reach out to religious leaders to guilt them into supporting HR 3200. This cued people like James Iaquinta, a community columnist from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to publish a column arguing that the Bible teaches Christians to support universal health care. He says,
"Now, Jesus teaches that we are all children of God, which means everyone is to be considered our brother/sister. So we are obliged to care for all as if they were our blood relatives without exception. There are those who would protest that some are undeserving of this status due to their behavior or beliefs. I direct them to the Golden Rule, which makes no such distinctions, and Matthew 25:31-40, where Jesus describes how our fitness to enter heaven will be determined. He says, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me (emphasis added), I was in prison and you came to me." Asked when they had seen him in these situations, he says, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."
A few things should be corrected. First, the Bible does not teach that we are all the children of God. John 1:12-13 says,
" Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
I know it sounds nice that we consider the entire human race to be the children of God, but the scriptures say that only those who have faith in Christ's name earn the right to become His children. We are not children of God by the mere fact we've been born in the world, but because we've chosen God to be our Father.
Second, Iaquinta is right that Jesus asked his followers to love others as they loved themselves and to care for those who are in need. Iaquinta is wrong if he thinks this rationalizes a government-run universal health care system. Jesus believed in charitable giving, not a government-sponsored tax and spend welfare system.
To be clear, charitable giving requires a voluntary act. There is no external authority, like the government for instance, telling you that if you don't give, they will penalize you. Jesus warned his disciples not to put their charity on display, for if they did, they would not receive their reward in heaven. Jesus said,
"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
An important point was made here. If giving to the poor was about the "poor", then it wouldn't matter if the giving was a public show or something done in private because ultimately the poor would get something. Jesus is saying that giving is about the person giving, not the person receiving. If someone gives to the poor because they want their name inscribed into some hospital wall of philanthropists, then Jesus says they will not receive their spiritual reward. The purpose of charitable acts, therefore, is to improve one's soul, not to improve the material well being of the poor.
This is important because Iaquinta is telling Christians they ought to support a government run health care system because Jesus says we should be our brother's keeper. However, a government run system is clearly what Jesus would denounce. Jesus would denounce it because it replaces charity with a government mandate; it puts your "acts of righteousness" on a public display, which is exactly what Jesus spoke against.
To answer Mr. Iaquinta assertion, yes, as Christians, we should help our neighbor. Many contemporary Christians shirk this divine duty, and they shouldn't. But placing a mandate on Americans to provide for the needs of their neighbors is not Christian; in fact, it's not even righteous. Acts of righteousness are voluntary, not compulsory. Bottom line, proponents of socialized medicine shouldn't be using the Bible to promote their agenda when the Bible condemns it.