Thursday, August 27, 2009

Health Care

I heard a story once about a time when the city line was just beyond the church along El Cajon Blvd. The story was about how the San Diego city fire trucks stopped out in front of the church a block short of a raging fire. The firemen got out of their trucks, and watched the building burn to the ground. They didn’t put out the fire because it was just over the city line, and at the time the rules were different, fire and police departments took care of their own, and were barred from helping others.
Today, we would be up in arms, as people eventually were back then, if a fire engine just stopped and watched a fire burn, or a police officer just stopped and watched a crime happen, because it was, “not my jurisdiction.” In fact, the collaboration and organization is to the extent that everyone everywhere only needs to call a single number to get help in any emergency. 911 is a number that every elementary school student it taught. A single, simple, central system is in place that is guaranteed to bring help.
It seems crazy to me that getting medical attention and care isn’t the same. The fire department comes out every year to inspect our church and make sure that we don’t have any potential problems and to keep our facility healthy and safe. Yet several of our own church members can’t get a health check-up, because they can’t afford health insurance. Half of our staff could pay their entire yearly salary and still not be able to afford health insurance.
I did some calculations and was shocked at what I found. If my family was not covered by the health insurance plan available through Jennifer’s work, the health insurance plan the United Methodist Church provides would cost the church an additional amount equal to our Youth Director’s full year salary plus our entire children’s ministry budget combined. That’s in addition to the amount we are currently paying for getting the insurance through Jennifer’s work. This amounts to more than double the amount of money for exactly the same coverage
We may have very different ideas about how to solve the problem, but solve the problem we must. Our current system is immoral, and un-Christian. The Bible is very clear about our requirement to take care of our neighbors, and the poor, and the widows. While we may quote a verse here and there to try and support our current situation, there are over 300 verses about God’s concern for the poor and justice. How can we profess to “Love our neighbors” and at the same time support a system that provides us with care and our neighbors with nothing but bankruptcy, chronic untreated conditions, and a sense of deep despair and hopelessness.
The rules are simple: Do no harm, Do good, Stay in love with God; but living them out takes courage, risk, and a deep sense of God’s presence. Please join me in keeping the debate over health care reform in your daily prayers. Keep in prayer also the people of our own congregation and throughout the country who are at risk and most vulnerable.

God Bless,
Pastor John


  1. John - Appreciate your point of view and agree with your perspective that it is our moral duty to take care of those less fortunate. However, I have no interest in asking our government to be responsible for taking any more of my tax dollars and wasting it. I don't have an answer, but I'm pretty sure big government is not part of the answer.

    Also, a side of this dialogue that is NEVER addressed is the individual's responsibility to take care of themselves. Many (but I admit not all)of our citizens are "sick" because they are obese, smoke, don't exercise, etc. These are all self-induced problems. Why should I pay for daibetic care for an idividual that has eaten themselves into this situation or cancer treatment for an individual that has smoked 2 packs/day for 25 years? Let's address the sins of gluttony and laziness that is the root of many of our health issues. If you don't agree with my assessment on the health of the average American, walk around Disney Land or Yosemite and take a look at how many people are sickenly overweight and can't even manage a simple 1/4 mile hike - it is disgusting! If we could get people to take care of themselves then I'm sure this would reduce healthcare costs significantly! People seem to think it is my responsiblity to dig themselves out of their self-induced messes (and this is not jsut a problem with healthcare!)

    Enjoy your Labor Day Holiday!

  2. Jesus didn't single anyone out and say that person is not included. Then as now, there were persons who did not take care of themselves and became a burden on society. Its an all or nothing proposition. That's just the way it is. It would seem to me if we provided health care to all those very people that have been described as disgusting could use the most help. Enabling them to get control of their lives and their destuctive habits makes the world a better place and drives down health care costs. Why is it so hard to realize that those gluttonous smoking beings are now the "least of these." And we all know what Jesus said about that. We can't deny health care to anyone. I don't like it either but to deny anyone is to deny myself.

  3. Jesus did three things in life... he preached, he taught and he healed. It is not enough to talk about Jesus. We are called to live the life Jesus modeled. We are called to care for the least, the last, the lonely, the sick, the suffering, the prisoner, the prostitute, and the tax collector... as well as, the fat, stupid and arrogant... to name a few. Health care is a Christian value... it is what Jesus wants us to do with and for one another. Go exercise with a friend... Speak out for health care!