Our neighbor George recently commented on a video he had seen on a local church website. He said it encouraged Christians (and those whose take their faith seriously) to vote in the coming election. George was pleased to see this because he felt that some Christians are so heavenly bound they are no earthly good. He went on to add that some might disagree but he believes that the ministry of Jesus was not to get us into heaven but to get heaven into us (Matthew 6.10).
His comment caused me to take a critical look at several earthly issues through my faith. I don’t believe these issues are liberal or conservative, Republican or Democratic. They are just faith-related concerns.
Maybe our Supreme Court has always been political but it seems more so now than ever. Nominees often proudly say they never spoke to a president about issues when they were selected. Yet they know exactly why they were appointed and what they were expected to do.
Our first faith-issue concern: Health care for women: Our new justice was handpicked by the President to help over-turn “Rowe vs. Wade” or at lease systematically weaken it until it no longer exists. This raises the issue “what about women’s reproductive health,” or “does a woman have a right over her own body?” A couple may have sexual relations because they desire to produce a child but more often they have this relationship because we were created by God to enjoy one another. The first thing in their minds was not to bring a child into the world.
Having “safe sex” or having good “birth control” should be a right. Yet there are those who religiously but mistakenly believe “birth control” of any kind is against the will of God. Others want to take family planning out of the woman’s health insurance on religious or so call moral grounds. With guidelines more Americans are agreeing with Human Watch’s comment: “Equitable access to safe abortion services is first and foremost a human right. Where abortion is safe and legal, no one is forced to have one. Where abortion is illegal and unsafe, women are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term or suffer serious health consequences and even death.”
As people of faith we are called to stand up for good women’s health which includes a right to plan to have children or not have children. Too often an unplanned child is brought into the world and then the same people who denied protection also want to deny any financial help to raise the child through social programs.
Our second faith-issue concern: Health Care is a right not a privilege. My faith also leads me to believe that good health insurance should be accessible for all Americans.
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Along with many others, I find the words of Jesus a command — “I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me.” (Matthew 25.31-46) Good health is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It is simply a “caring” American issue. For four years the administration has been trying to weaken and then destroy the “affordable health care act” including insurance for those who have “preexisting conditions” only to offer nothing in return but empty promises.
We have been told again and again by health experts that we shouldn’t wait until our health begins to fail but have regular check-ups, access to fair-priced medications and when surgery or hospitalization is necessary have affordable insurance to pay for it. Many Americans do not take care of themselves health wise because they simply can’t afford it. The coronavirus has reminded us that it is hurting and killing more black & brown people because many do not have the funds for good food, good health insurance and good housing. There isn’t one health program that would fit all of our people but our national leaders have the ability if they want to devise some form of private/public insurance for our people. Good health should be more than a political battle.
Our third faith issue concern: Is Socialism Evil? Was it evil for the government as an act of social concern to provide checks to help people who had lost their jobs to purchase food and medicine? What about checks to help with rent or mortgage payments or for small businesses to keep them from failing and putting more people out of work? What about Social Security that millions depend on or Medicare or Medicaid? Without Medicare providing funds for flue shots to keep people safe how many would have gone without because of limited finances.
There is one line in the letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians that leaps out to me is “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it, if one member is honored all rejoice together with it.” (I Cor. 12.26) People of faith are called to look out for one another. We are not just like “Lone Rangers” – we are social individuals. The virus has reminded us that we might be in this storm together but we are not all in the same boat.
For some “capitalism” is wonderful and “socialism” is terrible. Others would reverse the description. “Capitalism” is good for “the haves” but not so good for the “have nots.” The financial gap between the “rich” and the “poor” has grown wider in recent years. Socialism and capitalism should not be at war with each other. Rather they should be sisters and brothers in the same family each one reaching out to the other to make sure that all of our people are cared for.
Let the dialogue continue. We only ask that you vote and think on these things.
The Rev. Dr. Wm. Louis “Lou” Piel is pastor of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Finksburg and can be reached at email@example.com.