Biblical perspective on health care
To the Editor:
I was born and raised in the Bible Belt, and have been a Presbyterian minister for almost 30 years, spending the majority of my professional life working as a chaplain in urban hospitals. I have deep interest in health care, and I come at it from a Biblical perspective.
We in America know ourselves as a religious people. Our founders drew heavily on their Judeo-Christian values in declaring independence from England and formulating a constitution. And yet, when it comes to taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves, some forget what they learned in the Bible.
Some forget that in the very beginning of the Bible, God declares that each of us is created in God’s image. They do not take seriously how God, at least, feels about every single human being. As Rabbi Alexander Shindler, past president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, so eloquently put it, “By pricing out a portion of this country’s population from health care coverage, we mock the image of God and destroy the vessels of God’s work.”
This might sound radical, but the Bible is radical! Some forget the clearest and most radical mandate of all in Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 25, commonly referred to as “The Judgment of the Nations,” where He talks specifically about who will be blessed by God. He says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink…I was sick and you took care of me…Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of my brothers (or sisters) you did it to me.” He goes on to say that those who do not, among other things, take care of the sick, will “go away into eternal punishment instead of into eternal life.” How clear can it get for us Bible Belters anyway?
Jesus didn’t say “as you did it to my brothers who pulled themselves up by their boot straps, or to the addicted who have successfully kicked the habit, or to those who worked two minimum wage jobs and went to school at night to get a college education and then got a good paying job, or to the small business owners who saw the light and folded their life-long dreams to go back to work for a big company to pay for their family’s health care… you did it to me.” He said as you did it to THE LEAST. It amazes me how those who are so concerned about their immortal souls can be so unconcerned about the least among us, the very ones upon whom the fate of their immortal souls depend.
As a person of “The Book,” I take seriously what that Book tells me about how God’s intention for the earth and every single person on it is for life and life more abundant. We need to practice what we preach and make our voices heard even if that means, as it surely does, that we include a health insurance public option that will indeed give all people and this nation a more abundant life.
Rev. Emmie Smock