September 14, 2011

Should we "Let him die?"

I tuned in late to the Monday night CNN Republican Presidential debate, but I was in time to watch what would be considered the most “shocking” moment of the evening. The Huffington Post describes the event this way:
A bit of a startling moment happened near the end of Monday night's CNN debate when a hypothetical question was posed to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
"What do you tell a guy who is sick, goes into a coma and doesn't have health insurance? Who pays for his coverage? Are you saying society should just let him die?" Wolf Blitzer asked.
"Yeah!" several members of the crowd yelled out.
Paul interjected to offer an explanation for how this was, more-or-less, the root choice of a free society. He added that communities and non-government institutions can fill the void that the public sector is currently playing.
I think two rebukes are in order. 

First, liberal media outlets like Huffington Post have selectively edited the question Wolf Blitzer asked Rep. Paul. They make it look like Blitzer is asking about some poor soul who can’t afford health insurance and who is now in danger of dying because of his economic circumstances. But this is what Blitzer asked BEFORE the quote above (you can watch the full video HERE):
“A healthy young, 30-year-old man has a good job, makes a good living but decides, ‘You know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month on health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it.’ But something terrible happens, all the sudden he needs it. What’s going to happen if he goes into a coma? Who pays for that?”
“What he should do is whatever he wants to do,” Paul replied. “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare to take care of everybody…”
“Are you saying society should just let him die?” Blitzer asked.
Now the context of the question is more apparent, and different, than what emerges from the previous quote. I understand (though don’t agree with) why the crowd impulsively cheered the idea that the man should be allowed to die. It seems unfair that someone like me who always paid for health insurance when I needed it (even when doing so wasn’t easy on my finances) should have to cover the foolish and risky actions of someone who CAN afford health insurance, but simply CHOOSES to not buy it.
But I believe that this conservative retreat into “fairness” should be rebuked just as much as the liberal doctoring of the whole event at the debate. Yes, some people do stupid things and it would be easy to let them hang themselves with their own stupidity. But if God is real and created ALL people in His image, then we have an obligation to care for our fellow man. I mean, maybe the victim helped by the Good Samaritan deserved to be left on the road after his decision to walk a route by himself known to be infested with robbers. But the moral of the parable is that God's love is oriented towards helping those who don't deserve it the most, people like you and me who either stupidly reject His free offer of grace or sin and willingly give that grace up (that's even worse than someone who refuses to buy health insurance they can easily afford).
I think the scripture that should guide our actions in helping those who are sick and choose to not help themselves is found in Romans 5:6-8:
For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
Love demands that we help even the most foolish or ungrateful. Of course, I am speaking about what individuals are commanded to do to when it comes to caring for one another. The role of government in these matters is a much trickier question (though related one) and I will save that for a future post.

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