You may have read some of these shocking statistics:
- Between 2000 and 2006, wages in the United States increased by 3.8%, but health care premiums increased by 87%.1
- If the U.S. healthcare system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy in the entire world.2
- In 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.3
- It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.4
The website for the Social Security Administration tells us this:
- In 2013, almost 58 million Americans will receive $816 billion in Social Security benefits.5
- Nine out of ten individuals age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits.6
- Social Security provided at least half the income for 64 percent of the aged beneficiaries in 2011.7
Many of us struggle to comprehend the sheer magnitude of the state’s role as primary caregiver. I know I do. The civil government’s role starts when someone is in the womb and extends beyond their death. The state finances pregnancy, delivery into the world, education through adulthood, elderly care, allocation of inheritance and a host of areas in between. Think about it. It is quite literally “pre-cradle to post-grave”.
The current expansion represented by Obamacare is constantly in our face. Will it work? No. Why? Because God ultimately decapitalizes over time any activity not authorized by his Word. Yes, Obamacare has been an embarrassment for the current administration but should this be a surprise to us? Should the flustered start to this pinnacle act of central planning and caregiving on the part of the federal government surprise us? It should not. I would argue that the legitimacy of the federal government is currently being undermined in multiple arenas. But why? Why over time would Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare and other such programs not succeed? Because in this area the state is currently working outside its role and jurisdiction as outlined in Scripture.
Is health insurance a bad thing? Of course not. It is a brilliant service that has arisen in fairly recent history out of the free market. What is wrong is when the state asserts its authority beyond what is prescribed in scripture. So what is the role of the state? Protection and restraint through the punishment of crime. “For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:4b ESV) What defines crime? Scripture. What should be the source of our law? Scripture.
Enforcing contracts, punishment for stealing and murder – sure. But taking on the role of the family, the church and ultimately Christ himself should not be optional according to God’s Word. Our God is a jealous God and will not tolerate a rival messiah.
Ok, it all sounds great but a bit overwhelming you say. So what are we to do? Well for starters, let’s acknowledge that we have a Sovereign. He has set man to represent him in history. He does this through individuals and covenant institutions. We as the church have over time substituted a messianic state for Christ. As the old saying goes, “be careful what you ask for”. We are now burdened with a behemoth state that reaches into every sector of our existence.
What else can we do? We can stop complaining. We are where we are because we as God’s people have rejected Christ as our primary caregiver through the institutions of the church and family. We have set up a rival God. There was nothing taken from us. We are not the victims. We forfeited our responsibility. The only remedy is to reassert our family responsibility in caring for our parents and our responsibility as the church in helping families and private ministries in caring for the poor. We can start calling for and participating in private charities that reject the civil government’s role in this area.
In the area of healthcare, some may want to participate in alternative choices. My family and I recently made the switch to Samaritan Ministries. Within just a few months of making the change, my son was in the hospital for a lacerated hand which was then followed by a $22,000 appendectomy. Shortly after that, my wife had a pregnancy resulting in a miscarriage and another pile of medical bills ensued. Needless to say, our departure from conventional health insurance was confronted with an early test. But we have joined with like-minded Christian families that are committed to sharing the cost of these burdens.
In short, just do something. At the very least we can study Scripture to better understand how it encompasses all of life. We should work to better understand the roles and jurisdictions of God’s ordained covenant institutions. Covenant obedience matters. We are finding out that a departure from scripture in the area of healthcare and charity at best results in national bankruptcy. At worst it is will be one more point of disobedience that undermines all of Western Civilization. It is time we let scripture speak to every area of life. Healthcare reform – Ok. Just of a different kind. One that is fueled by fully reformed worship and an application of covenant to all of life.