Commentary: Do not deny care to our neighbor
The vote by the House of Representatives did not demonstrate Jesus’ call to love thy neighbor. Instead, writes the Rev. Traci Blackmon, elected officials abandoned their responsibility to serve all the people, to care for all the people, to protect all the people.
‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’
Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ Matthew 25:44-45
As Christians, the foundational commandments of our faith are the love of God and the love of neighbor. So much so is this the case that when one of the Pharisees asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied with these two commandments, understanding that if one loves God one will honor spiritual laws and if one loves one’s neighbor one will honor civil laws that govern how we treat one another.
As a matter of fact, that second commandment goes so far as to say we must love our neighbor as ourselves. In other words love of neighbor, at a minimum, means caring as much about others as we care about ourselves. While I am not one who believes the government should ever be in the business of legislating morality, our current administration, at least in word, has demonstrated their disagreement. They have consistently claimed to travel a moral high road without evidence of the same.
Yesterday, the House voted to dismantle the infrastructure of the Affordable Care Act, undermining patient safeguards, opening the floodgates for higher out of pocket expenses, and jeopardizing healthcare coverage for millions of Americans.
Yesterday’s partisan vote in the House did not demonstrate love of neighbor. Yesterday the people elected to serve our country abandoned their responsibility to serve all the people, to care for all the people, to protect all the people. The vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a plan that, if passed by the Senate, is estimated to once again leave approximately 24 million people uninsured. Many more will be challenged by restrictive policies that allow denial of coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. This is an immoral act. It is an act that we, as people of faith, must resist.
Therefore, our response today must be to act with moral courage. Our response must be to sound the alarm. Our response must be to rewrite sermons and Bible studies to address the challenges that face us and move us to action. Our response must be to call our Senators and demand an end to harmful legislation and partisan politics.
We do not live bifurcated lives. The intent of our hearts cannot be separated from the deeds of our hands. Our willingness to deny care to our neighbor cannot be separated from our willingness to deny GOD. I urge you. Put feet and hands to your prayers. Call your Senators today and every day and tell them the well-being of the poor, the elderly, and the sick must not be a political pawn in their dangerous game of partisan politics and this bill must be defeated for the sake of us all. Remembering, whatever we do to the least among us, we also do to Him.
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, one of three national officers of the United Church of Christ, is acting executive minister, Justice and Witness Ministries.
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