Healthcare: Reframing the Question

About a month ago I took a look at The Gospel Coalition’s Blog: FAQ’s. Here they provide summaries about current events and answer frequently asked questions regarding these current events. Most of these blogs have to do with popular culture or politics. One article that really jumped out at me was their article regarding the Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare.

Summary/Key Points

At one point in the article, the author says that “Obamacare’s vast expansions of the multi-trillion-dollar Medicaid program are arguably much more significant than the mandate. Medicaid is jointly funded between the federal government and the states, and already consumes an ever-increasing share of state spending…. They (Republicans) complained to the Court that this was a threat to independent state self-government.” Later on in the article the author frames this issue in such a way as though it seems as though it will rob religious organizations like the Catholic hospitals and Christian universities of their religious freedom. Thus for this author the key theological issue at hand is the relationship between church and state.

The Theological Issues at Hand…

The theological issues at hand are regarding the role of the government and anthropology. Romans 13 says that “there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God…. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.” Without a doubt there are governments that are not serving the good of the people, they oppress and kill their citizens. But in this case, we have the government trying to defend one good of the people, namely their healthcare. The claim that this healthcare program intrudes upon the rights of individuals is a claim regarding what the “good” of the people is. The theological issue at hand is “what is the better good of a person?” Are individual rights more important or is the access to healthcare more important? The first position doesn’t have high regard for the physical side of humans and elevates the non-physical attributes of humans (the will). The second position can be regarded as reductionist, humans are merely physical beings thus their physical well being is what matters most. Because these two theological issues are at hand in this one political issues, disagreements are bound to happen.

Reframing the Question

I am not arguing for or against this particular health care proposal. All I am doing is pointing out that the fundamental issue at hand has been presented as a disagreement between what the relationship between church and state should be. I am saying that this is not the fundamental disgreement. The fundamental disagreement between both sides is about what the ultimate good for a human being is. Thus in conducting these discussions we need to be clear about what we are arguing about (or what we should be arguing about), namely what is the ultimate good for a human. This is the real question that needs to be answered in the discussion about healthcare.


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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