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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Would Jesus use "what about me" rhetoric?

I found this short article on called "My Personal National Healthcare Plan" by Todd Steinberg. It's good, but missing a helpful component: reaching out to those who find the "what about me" rhetoric used by conservatives and libertarians none compelling.

What many conservatives and libertarians, myself included, are not doing well is explaining why it's okay to think about "me" when were discussing coercion by the State. The phrase "coercion by the State" refers to the fact that that the State (government) is required to enforce all laws, and may use force (police, imprisonment, fines etc.) to carry out laws.

As Christians or compassionate people, I agree that we are not suppose to merely think about "me" and "my health care" and "my money," but consider the poor and less fortunate--like Jesus commands us to do. However, Jesus did not force--neither personally nor through the Roman Empire--anyone to be charitable. He did not advocate forcing people to love and care for other people.

The most devastating aspect of the gospel is you can't make yourself genuinely believe the gospel, authentically love God or thoroughly want to reflect his character. In like manner, people can't make others genuine believe or authentically love God or want to reflect his character.

Similarly, only genuine display of compassion for the poor by its nature is voluntary. If it's not voluntary, it's not compassion.

Jesus would not use rhetoric like Steinberg uses in his essay emphasizing "me first" but that doesn't mean he would support use of the State to coerce or force people not be selfish.

But this then begs the question: is doing something for a oneself wrong? Who says when an action is "selfish" and when it's not? By who's standard do we decide?