Love Thy Neighbor: Health care protects God-given life


By Esteban Garcia

Our country right now is a one of the most polarized points in recent history, and the battles brewing in Washington, D.C., over so many distinct issues are the product of those conflicting worldviews.

Among the most contentious is health care. Since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) under President Obama, the structure of the system meant to care for the lives and well-being of all of us has been a point of deep disagreement and political back-and-forth. Just a few weeks ago, many of us watched with bated breath as the Senate voted just 51-49 to defeat a bill that would have partly repealed the ACA, stripping insurance from tens of millions of people.

Though as citizens, we may find ourselves caught up in the political and policy-centric debates and discussions around this issue, it our role as Christians, as students of Jesus and believers in Christ, that must remain front and center always.

Health care is a giant and complex issue. But in our faith we find guidance, not only for personal matters but for the most pressing issues of our age. Though Scriptures may not address health insurance, the role of pre-existing conditions, or government health care exchanges explicitly, our God-given abilities to reason can help us apply their teachings to modern times.

I believe – and we are reminded in 2 Timothy – that God dwells in all of us. Each individual carries God’s light within. It’s because of this that serving others is one way of serving God. And what better way to serve others than to help ensure that their health is the best it can possibly be? We as Christians hold that life, a God-given gift, is sacred. So, would that call to champion life not extend to life in all its stages?

Caring for the health of others is Christian love in action. In Thessalonians, we are called to “encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Though we may work hard to build one another up spiritually, it’s hard to focus on spiritual matters when bodies ache and sickness takes hold. Thus, in order to encourage others to explore their own gifts and their own ways of serving God – “building each other up” – we must first address their most basic physical needs. And access to basic health care, for when bodies need healing and comfort, ensures that we do.

Though the specifics of policy regulating health care in this country leave room for discussion, I believe firmly that crafting a system in which all people, regardless of employment status, income, socioeconomic status, marital status, or geographic location – all distinctions not given to us at birth by our Creator – have access to the health care necessary for a dignified life is a true fulfilment of our calling to being agents of God’s eternal love for each of us.

Esteban Garcia is the media relations specialist at Bread for the World.

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