You don't love God, if you don't heal your neighbor.
I suppose that it had to happen sooner or later. The US and British political issues are so different that it was only a matter of time before the bubble of my patience burst and I'd weigh in on matters of politics.
One of the most heated debates lately has been on the issue of healthcare. The US has a pay-for-care system in which one buys, or an employer provides, health insurance. The UK has a system in which the National Health Service guarantees healthcare to all, without cost. Barak Obama is making it his business to move the US toward the UK model, and it's been a thorn in the side of some, for a variety of reasons. Various facts and figures are bandied about, and I've read a blog recently that quotes statistics that 37% of voters support his model, and 57% oppose it. Not surprisingly, 62% of Democrats support it, while 87% of Republicans oppose it.
Further to that, I've been stunned to discover that there are many who profess the Christian religion who are opposed to changes, and that baffles me more than anything else. Pardon me if I appear to oversimplify this, but didn't Jesus say that the greatest commandment was to love God, and after that, to love your neighbour as yourself? Matthew 22:36-40 has it:
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
"The second [greatest commandment] is...thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself". There's even a song about it - composed by one Carl Story. In part, it reads as follows:
There are many people who will say they're Christians
And they live like Christians on the Sabbath day
But come Monday morning 'till the coming Sunday
They will fight their neighbor all along the way.
Oh you don't love God, if you don't love your neighbor
If you gossip about him, if you never have mercy
If he gets into trouble and you don't try to help him
If you don't love your neighbor and you don't love God.
In the Holy Bible, in the book of Matthew
Read the 18th chapter and the 21st verse
Jesus plainly tells us that we must have mercy
Then a special warning in the 35th verse.
So according to this, what would Jesus do about healthcare? Well, let's take a look at his ministry, according to the Bible. He cast out demons. He cured the blind, made the mute speak, put a spring in the step of the lame. He even cured leprosy, and according to the Bible, he didn't just wave his hands about or tell them to be better, he showed enormous compassion by actually reaching out and touching him. Yes, according to Mark 1:40-45, he "Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man" and he was cured. Not only that, but he did it for free, and in the case of that one leper, he asked that he keep quiet about it, and not tell the whole world.
Now I'm not a Christian, though I have read the Bible many times over, and my understanding of Jesus' ministry was that he sought to do good things for no reward, and that he encouraged his followers to do the same, and in the same way. Compassionately, without prejudice and as a part of a Christian work.
So, here's the thing. I see supposed Christians opposing a publicly-funded healthcare system, a system which to my eyes, demonstrates a compassionate Christian love for neighbour. And it mystifies me.
The only thing I can think is that these people (who, I assume have paid health insurance already) don't see any social obligation to help those less fortunate than themselves to have the same. Where, I ask, is the Christianity in that? Surely, according to their Master's own words, they should take the view that "these people are our neighbours and we should love them as ourselves, if we are claiming to love God".
Maybe you may think that I'm oversimplifying this, but it seems so simple to me. I don't understand. Maybe these folk should prayerfully review these few verses, reflect on the tale of the Good Samaritan and then take stock again.
I would have no problem with paying less to the insurance companies (who think not of their neighbours but of their investors), and paying a little more in taxes. But then, I'm not a right-wing Christian.
Cross-posted at my blog