What a fascinating time!  We’re debating, on a national level, morality.  Granted, it’s the morality of access to health-care, but at its heart this is a debate about things moral, and ultimately about things spiritual.

The great irony is that American popular culture loves to make the claim, when it is convenient, that we cannot ‘legislate morality.’  Of course, that’s a nonsense statement.  We legislate morality all the time.  We believe it is wrong to drive while intoxicated, because it might cause harm to someone, and that someone has intrinsic worth, and harming them is wrong.  Morality legislated.

We legislate morality when we say it is unlawful to marry a minor, who does not have the capacity to understand the situation, or when we say it is illegal to sell illicit drugs because they might cause harm to those who buy and use them. We legislate morality when we limit free speech that might be libelous.  We legislate morality when we say it is wrong to steal, or to take another persons wife or husband.

And so, it is no surprise that we have arrived at the moral discussion which may lead us to ‘legislate’ morality in terms of providing health-care as a right.  But before we move forward, we ought to consider that morality requires a foundation in something transcendent.  I’ll get back to that.

It is widely held that health-care, because everyone needs it, should be available to all at a discounted rate, or for free, so that those who can pay don’t need to pay too much, and those who can’t pay needn’t pay at all.

While it sounds very beautiful to say so, and while the name of Jesus is oft-cited in support, since he cared for the poor and healed the sick, it might be a tad more complex than all that.

The reason being, Jesus concern for the poor and sick was rooted in his role as the Son of God.  So, he healed them to reach them; he reached them to save their souls and transform their lives; to dispense with their old way of being and bring in a new one.  He was gathering citizens for a distant country, the land beyond death, and changing lives in the process.  The imagery of baptism was perfect; to die to the old and rise to the new, both now and in the future.

If we believe Jesus is calling us to love, to charity, to give to all without expectation of reward, that is well.  If we all live that way, the world will be better.  But we don’t.  Or we won’t.  What the world wants, what reformers want, is for us to behave like Jesus in our duty to the poor, but without any of that pesky religion to muddy the collective social or economic water.

We are told, by some, that Jesus was a socialist.  Though the Gospels do not support the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was a socialist in his politics (which were really the politics of heaven, not earth), I’m fascinated by the popular belief that he was; because those who believe it may be onto something.  Perhaps, if we all live like socialists, we’ll have a paradise on earth; but with one caveat.  If we will make people socialists because Jesus acted like one, then the only sustainable way for us to reform our economy, our health-care, our world is for all socialists to be like Jesus.

That means, we physicians, and politicians, and insurers and attorneys and all the vast, complex panoply of professions will have to start giving a lot more of what we produce.  And we must do it on the assumption that, whether we receive monetary compensation or not, we will receive a heavenly reward for doing his will and loving God’s children so well.

Of course, it also means that the poor need no longer worry about rising in society; rising is irrelevant, except as we rise to heaven.  The poor, the meek, they will receive their blessing.  But maybe not here, maybe not now.  Jesus was quick to point out, ‘the poor you will always have with you.’  No socialist utopia to stop it in this life!

If we will be Jesus modeled ‘socialists,’ we may have to be itinerate.  We will spend our energies both on loving man and on studying about and loving God.  We will know the scriptures in all their wonder and complexity.  We will hope for the return of Jesus, who said he was coming back to fix all of the problems of this life with utter finality (and with judgment…a thing annoying to most socialists, who clearly misunderstand Jesus’ brand of socialism).  We will expect, in our love of others, to die horrible deaths; as Jesus and most of his disciples did.

We will go to school and work, then give away our efforts because he called us to do it.  Of course, many followers of Jesus do this now.  But if we want to live ‘morally,’ in our businesses, our health-care system, or anything else, and if we want to impose a morality on the nation, we must remember where it comes from and that it cannot exist as a secular ideology separate from a divine imperative!  Our morality, if it will work for all, must rest on a bedrock of absolute truth; and that truth must be eternal and inviolable, not subject to the changes of fashion or political expediency.

So, if we legislate morality, we must legislate faith in order for it to survive.  But since we are good post-moderns, good enlightenment-driven scientists, good Marxist leaning citizens of the world, we cannot accept any transcendent, spiritual, Godly, faith-directed guidance, and we certainly cannot have any of it legislated upon us.

And so, we must accept with a sigh the fact that socialism, or even nationally mandated free health-care, cannot function without the underpinnings of absolute love for God, for truth and for our fellow man.

Collectivism, for all it’s purported morality, can only fail, in economies generally or health-care specifically. Because you may make me be a socialist, but I cannot and will not make you be a Christian.  And without that, the entire plan will fall to chaos, new inequities and simply more tyranny of a different type.

And as in the history of the church, there will still be martyrs.  Who they will be remains to be determined.

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