The Church and Health Care
Daniel DarlingDaniel Darling is the Vice President for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC). For five years, Dan served as Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of several books, including Teen People of the Bible, Crash Course, iFaith, Real, and his latest, Activist Faith. He is a weekly contributor to Out of Ur, the blog of Leadership Journal. His work has been featured in evangelical publications such as Relevant Magazine, Homelife, Focus on the Family, Marriage Partnership, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley. He has guest-posted on leading blogs such as Michael Hyatt, The Gospel Coalition, OnFaith (Washington Post), and others. He is a contributing writer for many publications including Stand Firm, Enrichment Journal and others. Dan’s op-eds have appeared in Washington Posts’ On Faith, CNN.com's Belief Blog, and other newspapers and opinion sites. He is a featured blogger for Crosswalk.com, Churchleaders.com and Believe.com, Covenant Eyes, G92, and others. Publisher's Weekly called his writing style "substantive and punchy." Dan is a sought-after speaker and has been interviewed on TV and radio outlets across the country, including CNN, 100 Huntley Street, Moody Broadcasting Network, Harvest Television, The Sandy Rios Show, American Family Radio, the Salem Radio Network, and a host of other local and national Christian media. He holds a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry from Dayspring Bible College and is pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife Angela have four children and reside in the Nashville area. Daniel is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Literary Agency
- 2012 Jul 18
This election cycle, health care has dominated the news. We've had the nomination of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose state health care plan was considered a liability in the GOP primary. We've had the conservative opposition to President Obama's health care plan (now universally labeled Obamacare, even by supporters). And then we recently had the very surprising verdict of the Supreme Court to uphold Obamacare, with the majority opinion written by conservative justice John Roberts.
How should Christians think about this issue? I've been a bit conflicted. On the one hand, most evangelicals are against Obamacare, mainly because it is seen as a one-size-fits-all government takeover of the health care industry. I've read a lot of evangelicals who lament the loss of our freedom, with a government empowered to make us buy insurance. There is also much concern about the HHS mandates, which force religious institutions to cover the cost of contraceptives, something Catholics vehemently oppose. So it's a religious freedom issue as well.
Though there are many troubling aspects of Obamacare, it's harder to make a direct Biblical case against it like you can against abortion, same-sex marriage, and other liberal policies. The closest thing is the Bible's seeming endorsement of free-market capitalism as the best system in a broken world. I say seeming because you can't directly say the Scriptures endorse capitalism, but it's the system that most closely resembles biblical wisdom (provided it is bulwarked by robust institutions, particularly the church). (If you're interested, I spoke on this earlier this year at our church.)
So, perhaps you see Obamacare as creeping socialism. Many Christians do. It troubles me like it troubles them. I'd like to see more of a state-by-state solution or perhaps just a reordering of the entire system. But I guess I'm conflicted in that I wonder if there is a conservative alternative to Obamacare. I've heard many things over the years such as "allowing purchase of insurance across state lines" or "tort reform." I know that conservative policy organizations and think tanks have some pretty robust, more free market ideas. When John McCain ran for president, he actually presented a fairly robust health care proposal.
But what troubles me about the GOP and the conservative movement in general is that there seems to be no real push to get these plans passed. We know we don't like Obamacare or Hillarycare or anything the liberals have offered. But in the years that the GOP has been in power, they have not made a serious effort to fix health care. And the one guy who did try something in his home state, Mitt Romney, is considered liberal for having done so.
Surely we're not okay with millions being uninsured, are we? I'm saying this because as a pastor, I see first-hand the struggles with our health care system. If you can't afford health care, you're really dodging a bullet. If you happen to get seriously sick, with something like cancer or even just an accident, you can get treatment, but you'll be saddled with debt you'll likely never pay off. I've seen good, hard-working people crushed under the weight of treatments. And if you have been sick, or have preexisting conditions, you have no hope of coverage. This is a real problem. I'm not sure what the solution is. I don't think it's Obamacare, but as a conservative, free-market capitalist, I'd like to know what the better solution is. More importantly, I'd like to see it become a national priority.
I think it also touches our pro-life sensitivities. Thousands of people die every year of preventable diseases, for lack of adequate health care. A culture of life will do everything it can to alleviate this suffering and prolong life.
Perhaps it's not a government solution at all, but a faith-based, market-based solution. It could be that the government, at this point, is too involved and is driving up the costs. If so, then I'd like to see conservative politicians add health reform to their agenda.
I'm not an expert in this field and I don't really know the solution. But I do know there is a problem.