The Health Care Ruling and the God of Salvation
Yesterday the Supreme Court announced its ruling on the controversial health care reform law passed in 2010, which held most of the law constitutional. Despite broad support for some of the individual provisions in the Proustian legislation, public opinion has been more strongly opposed to than in favor of the law as a whole. The ruling sets the stage for a particularly contentious conclusion to the election season. How might Christians, whose opinions on the law are no less diverse than the rest of the country's, respond to the ruling?
Regardless of what we think about the law or the court's decision, those who follow the God of the Bible are united in the belief that the world began as a good creation that overflowed from the love of the Trinity; that sickness and death marred and corrupted that good creation as a result of sin; that God came to earth in the person of Jesus to pay the penalty for sin, restore humankind's relationship with him and each other, and usher in the restoration of the world; that one day Jesus will return and we will all be bodily resurrected to enjoy eternity with the triune God in a new heaven and new earth in which the curse is no more.
That is the unifying conviction of the church throughout history and the world. And it is important to remember in a moment when national affairs can loom so large. The men and women leading our country, powerful as they may seem in the moment, are not our saviors. They, too, are both part of God's good creation yet subject to the corruption of sin—and that extends to every work of their minds and hands. We should not put undue hope in them and what they aim to accomplish, yet neither should we despair too greatly at the advance of strategies we may disagree with. God is still in control, and his ultimate plans for creation are unchanged by the events of yesterday morning.
Further, Christians should not look to our health care system, whatever it may become, as the permanent cure for sickness and death or an exemption from our obligation to care for widows and orphans, for the sick and needy. Jesus alone has overcome the grave, and it is in his victory that our hope should ultimately rest, not medical, technological or systemic advances, though God may certainly work for good through those changes.
Whatever our future health care system may be able to do for those who previously had no care, it does not permit us to abdicate our responsibility to care for the needy and vulnerable in our midst. Over and over throughout the Bible, God calls his people to this work. Although the church has sometimes emphasized care of the soul over that of the body, Isaiah 58 describes worship and obedience as intimately intertwined with material compassion: