Healthcare Reform: Does the Church have a role?

Healthcare Reform: Does the Church have a role?

By Barb Green


The answer to the above is a resounding “Yes”! The Church must be concerned about healthcare because Jesus was. He healed and commanded us to do the same. Healing is as much a part of the Gospel message today as it was in the first century. Jesus hasn’t changed.  Dr. Scott Morris suggests three ways the Church can transform health care.


Regain the body

First, regain the body. Our bodies are a gift from God. God formed Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life. We cannot separate the body from the spirit.In America we believe that no matter what we do to our bodies, doctors can use technology to fix them when they break. Unfortunately, the technology is not always that good and the doctor is not always that smart. God gave us our bodies for a reason, and we have an obligation to care for them.

Daily life is full of choices that soon become habits. The Church has an opportunity to come alongside individuals in changing habits and decision patterns. Imagine what might happen if churches began to ask, “Is this program—this tradition, this snack, this meal—helping people live healthy lives as God intends, or is it a stumbling block to their efforts?  We must reclaim the health of the body as a priority of life as God intends, rather than the life our culture delivers.


Rethink prevention

The second way to transform health care is to rethink prevention. Advocate for prevention in your congregation, in the neighborhoods around you, in your denomination. Participate in prevention activities. Invest in parish nurses. Budget for ministries that keep people well in all dimensions of their lives.

Get involved in community movements that can improve the socio-economic indicators of poverty at the local level. Neither Washington nor your state capital can do this. It takes people who care about your congregation, community and city.


Reclaim death

Thirdly, the Church must reclaim death. We, as the people of God, have not spoken up about how we understand the end of life. We have allowed a relentless application of technology to prolong life at all costs. Too many people spend the last two weeks of life in intensive care with tubes stuck down their throats, separated from people who love them. This is immoral.

Death is not the enemy. Christians should be the first ones to embrace this truth. Death is part of the very human existence that God’s own Son shared with us. Jesus experienced death and conquered death in the resurrection. Death does not have the last word. How to die well is a conversation most of us avoid having on an individual level, much less a national level.

Legislation that doesn’t ask the right questions will not take us to the right answers. We must ask hard questions even when the answers are not black and white. We must be leaders of continued dialogue in end-of-life issues and lead a public discussion about our addiction to technology and where it takes us.


Can the Church solve the healthcare crisis in America in its entirety? No. Not this year. Not by itself. But the Church can answer the call to be faithful to its own mission of caring for the bodies God has given us and reaching out to the poor with the healing compassion of Jesus. If the Church did this, one congregation at a time, the impact on national health might surprise us all.

The cost of discipleship is never cheap. Neither is the cost of healthcare in America. But when the Church focuses on issues of health, it shines light on the path to the Kingdom of God.

(Taken from “Beyond Reform: Three Ways to Transform Health Care without Dividing the Church” by Scott Morris; Church Health Reader, Fall 2012)

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