The Human Body
The Responsibility of the Individual or the State?
by the Rev. Carl McIntire
President of the International Council of Christian Churches
"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.... So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."
-Psalm 139:14 and Romans 14:12.
The general theme we are going to discuss this morning is "Socialized Medicine." The Bible has something to say about it. As Christians we believe that the Bible is our only infallible rule of faith and practice. God has revealed to us in this Book what He would have us believe and what He would have us do. Both the commandments and the principles which are to guide our conduct are there. Our activity in all things, in the totality of life, and all our relationships with men must be directed by what we believe God would have us do.
The historic Christian faith has the answer to our problems. It gives us the one and only solution which God would have us follow. This applies to the totality of life. It is the responsibility of the church and its pulpit to declare God's Word - His law, His commandments, His offer of salvation and eternal life. Men must be told the good news that Jesus Christ is God's Son, that He came to die for their sins, and that, if men will repent and believe on Him, they will have everlasting life.
Under the preaching of that message and in obedience to the great truths revealed in the Bible our forefathers gave us this land in which we live, "the land of the free and the home of the brave." It is a free country, with a free economy. And today it is the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth. The liberty which we have inherited and which has made possible our growth is founded upon certain great and mighty truths concerning the living God and concerning the individual as created by God. Man has a relationship to God!
At no time in the history of our country has liberty been in greater jeopardy than at the present moment.
We fought two world wars to preserve liberty on the earth, yet there is less liberty today than there was before. We participated in those wars also to protect our own liberty, and we are having less liberty in our own country than we have ever had before. Strange, isn't it ? But there is a reason for it. The present threat to our national life, so far as our internal affairs are concerned, is not communism; it is socialism, socialism! Socialism in various forms and shades is now being offered to the American people in most subtle ways. One of the most deceptive and alluring to the public is the present drive for socialized medicine.
Let me say frankly, in the light of the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ, socialism is not Christianity. It never was; it never has been; it never will be Christianity. Those who today are offering to us socialism, in the name of Christianity or in the name of Christian principles, are absolutely in error so far as the plain teachings of the Bible are concerned. The Bible's concept of society is that of free men. The Bible places the entire emphasis upon the individual. It is the individual who is at fault. It is the individual whose heart is stained with sin. It is the individual who lies and steals and kills and commits adultery. It is the individual who must love his neighbor. It is the individual whose heart manifests hatred and envy and jealousy, and is responsible for the destructive forces which we see in our social life. If these things are to be remedied, the individual must be dealt with - directly and specifically. It is the Christian faith which offers to us the glorious message that the individual must be and can be changed. The individual must be "born again." Christ said, "Ye must be born again." When the individual is changed, he becomes a new citizen, a new creature in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he is salt, the salt of the earth. Salt preserves and keeps. It is essential to society.
In the last few years the concept has more and more been accepted that the State should take over the responsibility and care for its citizens. A "cradle to the grave" program is being pressed upon the State. We are told in so many ways and places that with such a program society will be improved and we shall have a better order. Nothing could be more deceitful and destructive than that concept.
I have asked a question, The human body-the responsibility of the individual or the State? I answer by stating that the human body is the responsibility of the individual and not of the State! In discussing this answer I shall set before you two propositions from the Word of God.
I. THE HUMAN BODY BELONGS TO THE CREATOR
The human body has been given by God to the individual to dwell in, and there are certain claims which God Himself has made upon that body. Those claims are very clearly set forth in the Scriptures.
God made the body. He designed it, produced it, and watches over it. The Psalmist says, "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Who did this marvelous making? The Psalmist declares that God did it, "And that my soul knoweth right well." The Psalmist is thoroughly persuaded in his own soul that the body in which he dwells and the faculties which he possesses have come to him from God.
Then he adds, "My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." He is speaking here of the time between the conception and the birth of a baby. In the hours before the babe is born into this world, the Psalmist says, God knows all about it and its formation in the lowest parts of the earth, "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." God Almighty watched over our bodies from the very first moment that they began to be fashioned, when it was yet unknown and when it was not yet clear as to the form and substance, as to whether it would be male or female. This deals with questions beyond man and his knowledge.
Psalm 139:17 says, "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, 0 God! how great is the sum of them!" The Psalmist then thinks of what God has given him - the human eye, the hands, the tongue, the brain, the heart, the feet. When he thought of them and began to study them, all he could do was to say, "How marvelous are thy thoughts, 0 God." Man is God's greatest creation! He is fearfully made.
A. CLAIMS ON THE INDIVIDUAL
I am dealing with the subject of socialized medicine, not from the standpoint of figures and statistics and comparisons, but I want to take you back to the very heart of the question -the claim of God upon the individual and the responsibility which that individual has to his Creator. Not only does God claim our bodies by virtue of creation, but in the case of those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ He claims them by virtue of redemption. There are many, many references in the Scriptures that speak of this. In Romans 12:1 we read, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
In I Corinthians 6:15 are the words, "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot?" The Apostle Paul is speaking here about fornication and the abuse of the body.
Notice verses 19 and 20 of this same chapter. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." What does that mean? It means that we are directly responsible to God for the care and use of our bodies. The Holy Spirit dwells in them. Shall we therefore delegate that care to the State? Shall the State assume any measure of responsibility whatsoever for our bodies, when God has so clearly said to the Lord's people in His Word that the body is His? We are dealing here with truths God's people must recognize.
Now let me go a step further with you in the passage in I Corinthians. Notice verse 20. Paul says, "Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." He refers to the fact that man is made up of a spirit and a body. There are two substances-soul and body. Both are God's! Hear that! They are not and never can be the State's. For the State to lay hold on them is to steal from God. We would not think for one minute of taking our spirit and turning it over to the care of the State. No, a million times no. That is the last thing in the world we would think about doing. It would destroy all the freedom of the mind and the soul. But the Apostle joins the spirit and the body together-as they are. In your spirit you are to glorify God, and in your body you are to glorify God. It is your responsibility and yours alone, for which you shall give an account in that great day of judgment. You cannot separate body and spirit. If we are to socialize medicine for the body, why not socialize the Gospel for the spirit? If the State takes one, why not the other? When the State steps in to take care of the body, it also moves on to the care of the spirit. One is closer to the other than anybody realizes. Russia does both!
There is one place in the Bible, I Timothy 4:8, where Paul says, "For bodily exercise profiteth little."
Then he goes on to speak about the exercise of the spirit. The more important thing is the spirit. But he does say bodily exercise profiteth some. We axe responsible for the development of our body and its protection. No one else is responsible. When you feel pain inside of your body, you are responsible to begin to find out what is the trouble. Because of your responsibility for your own body you are going to follow certain very definite rules of health, for if you do not you will suffer. You are the one who has to pay the price - in your body, your happiness, your comfort.
You can take this thought and develop it in many ways, but I have gone far enough with it for you to see that God Almighty holds you responsible for the welfare of what He has given you. That is His order of things. We do not dare to turn from Him to the State!
B. CLAIMS ON THE STATE
I must say, on the other hand, that God Almighty has made certain claims on the State. You ask, Where does the State come into the picture? The State does not come into it at all, so far as the nurture of your body is concerned. The State does have certain responsibilities which are Godgiven. They are recorded for us in Romans 14. The purpose of the State is to preserve order and law and not to "bear the sword in vain" ; that is, to protect the life and the liberties of the people. The function of the State is very, very limited in the concept that God has given us in this Book. The highest glory of the State is to preserve the freedom of the people, not to take it from them, not to put burdens upon them which will oppress them.
It is just at this very point that socialism attacks. I want to place our finger on the very heart of the socialistic ideology. Socialism comes in and says that the State has a responsibility for all the welfare of the people. That welfare is manifested in various ways, but we are talking particularly this morning about socialized medicine. The State comes along with the idea that, in order to improve the health of everybody, we will introduce a "national health service." I am going to speak of this more in particular in a minute. It is a national program whereby people are to be compelled under the police power of the State to do certain things, so far as their bodies are concerned. The State steps into a place where God has never placed it. The State comes in between God and the individual in the matter of the individual's body. Don't let anybody tell you that when this happens the State is not also on the way to taking over in the matter of the spirit. You cannot separate them! The State then takes from the individual certain responsibilities that God has placed upon him. The State helps make a more irresponsible citizen. Anything that removes man from God makes man irresponsible and immoral. When the State takes these responsibilities from the individual, the individual must look to the State and not to God. This then is the essential anti-Christian nature of socialism, and that is why the Christian church should be vigorously opposed to it, right down to its foundation.
We have always said, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." God, who formed the body, the Lord who gave it life, the Lord who made the heavens and the earth, the birds and the flowers, the Lord is the One to whom we must turn. Thank God, He is the Shepherd and the Great Physician. God forbid that we shall ever have to say, "The State is my shepherd; I shall not want. The State is the great physician." Yet, that is exactly the concept that we are moving into now.
The American people face a decision, and they ought to know exactly what that decision -involves. 1 do not believe that any free people ever entered the gate of a collectivistic state where the price was written across the top. Only a fool would do that. It has never been done that way. The American people have a decision to make as to whether we are going to remain free, go back to freedom, or whether we are going to go on into a controlled, collectivistic state of a socialistic nature. The way we are to be led into that state is inch by inch, step by step, fraction by fraction, until this liberty is taken and that right is gone, and we find ourselves locked up inside of a collectivistic vise, just as the miserable English are today in the British Isles. That is the decision we must make. It ought to be plain; it ought to be clear what is involved in it - how it involves you, how it involves the doctor, how it involves your children, and how it involves the future welfare of the country in which we live. The time and place to fight it is at the little "inches" here and there!
The time has come when, as a minister of the Gospel, I must call attention to this attack upon God and our freedom and to the fundamental basis of the claims of Almighty God. When the State comes in between the doctor and the patient, between God and the individual, we shall lose the blessing and the favor of God. God is going to turn us over to our own delusions and we are going to be involved in all kinds of confusion and trouble. Socialized medicine, all socialism, must be fought in the name of God, just as I have stated the case here.
II. SIN IN THE HEART OF MAN
I have dealt with this question first from the standpoint of the claims of God-His claims on the individual, His claims on the State. Now I want to deal with it from the standpoint of sin in the heart of man. Man is wicked. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9.) Any collectivistic society simply means that sin in the heart of the individual is aggravated and the effects of it are thrown over the whole group, instead of the individual bearing the burden and the responsibility for himself.
A. THE EFFECT OF SIN UPON THE INDIVIDUAL
First, this applies to the individual; and second, let us apply it to the State. Why is it that many of our people are interested in such an idea as socialized medicine? Why does it appeal to anybody? Do you know the answer to that question? The heart of man is so wicked that he is constantly trying to evade his responsibilities to himself and to God. From the very first moment in the Garden of Eden, when Adam blamed his wife and tried to place the responsibility upon her, the human race has been shifting responsibility, shifting responsibility, and again shifting responsibility. When the appeal is made to take funds of the Government, collected from all the people, and give "free" medicine, men think that here is a chance to get something for nothing and they will not have to worry about their medical expenses any longer! You can go out and sin all you want to; you can indulge in all the fornications you desire; you can dissipate; you can drink; you can abuse your body; and it will not cost you a penny! You can just go down to the clinic of the Government and they will give you medicine to neutralize it all. The heart of man is constantly shifting responsibility. The heart of man wants something for nothing, and when a deal is made which makes it seem that he is getting something without paying for it, he will grasp it -unless, and it is an important exception - he fears ears God and loves free dom from the State's corrupt power.
Let us go just a step further. This idea of socialized medicine which is beginning to gain ground in the United States has been tried in Germany and Russia; England now has it. In England the people who really need help are home sick in bed. They seldom receive help. This was a complaint I beard in England this summer. You go to the hospital or the clinic established by the Government, and when you get there, there is such a crowd of people who are feigning illness to get off their jobs and to collect their unemployment insurance and their sick benefits that the people who are really in desperate need of medical help do not get it! Men are wicked, deceitful, lazy.
Just as soon as the individual shifts to the State the responsibility for the attention of a doctor, he 'does something to himself, to his self-respect.
Do you mean to say that you do not care enough about your body, about what God has given to you in your body, to be responsible for it? When you shift the responsibility for the medical care of your body to your Government, and accept that ideology, you have broken down a, mighty barrier of freedom. It is so much easier then to go on to the next step where the Government comes in to feed and clothe you, and you become a slave of the State. The heart of man is so wicked that it is blind. The heart of man is so deceitful that it cannot see its own best interest, as God has shown it to us in the Bible.
Do you know why we are having this kind of trouble right now in our country? There is only one reason. The people of our country are not hearing the kind of preaching that I am giving you this morning -preaching from the Word of God. The Bible's concept of the sin of man's heart and the corruption of that sin and what it means to a man is not being emphasized.
This wickedness in man's heart involves the politicians, too, and the doctors. They are men! When a state is made up of wicked men who put the responsibility for their medical care in the hands of the State, there is a concentration of power, a concentration of authority over the doctors and over the individual which is absolutely foreign to our republican form of government and the concept upon which our nation was built.
What happens? Well, in the first place, the State begins to deceive. Deception is there. We have already seen it manifested! Do you know what they call this proposed socialized medicine program that they have down in Washington? Do they call it socialized medicine? Oh, no. They would not dare do that. They call it national health service or insurance plan. There is nothing wrong with insurance. If you haven't any, you had better get some. There is nothing wrong with health. If you haven't good health, you had better look after your health. The plan sounds very well. The joker is in the word "national," and the compulsory nature of the whole program. That is where the "trick" comes. It is a deceptive title. Then, do you know what happens?
The political party says, We will place socialized medicine in our platform as "bait" for the people. There are some who want this sort of thing, and we will give them medical care for nothing. We will take, some money from the rich and give it to the poor. We will appeal to the labor union class; they want it. It is a way to increase their salaries, so their leaders explain, without having to bargain collectively for the raise. So the politicians put it in as bait for votes. The other political party comes along, and says, Well, the other party has it in its platform, so we had better put it in, too. If we don't, they will get some votes we won't get. Do you know that both of the national political parties in this country put the plan in their national platform at this last election? I think I have described for you the reason for it, and I don't think that many of the politicians honestly believed in it! It is bait for the suckers!
This is a part of the deception involved. The deception which has now begun will continue and become more aggravated as the time goes by. If there is one thing a minister of the Gospel, standing in the pulpit of the Lord Jesus Christ, needs to denounce and to warn his people of, it is deception.
B. THE EFFECT OF SIN UPON THE STATE
When the State sets up machinery to control, plan, and order all this, it sets up an agency which is under political control. This involves the corruption of present-day politics. The way the agency of socialized medicine is to be dealt with, if it is dealt with at all by the people, is in the ballot and by those who are elected. This places the matter of medicine and the welfare of the bodies of the people right in the hands of the politicians, for them to play with, to use in all the various ways that politics uses national and state powers. This places the doctors themselves in a system where they are responsible, not to you, not to your favor or your disfavor, but to the favor or the disfavor of the politicians who are at the top, who hold in their hands their promotion, the level upon which they work, the amount of salary they will receive. When you set up a system like that, you have completely demoralized any doctor and you have put him in a position where he must curry the favor of the politicians above him. You have not only put him in a position where he must curry the favor of those over him, but you have put him in a position where, if he does not vote "right" at a political election where these issues are involved, he is apt to be demoted or removed or sent off out yonder somewhere where he does not want to go.
I am talking to you this morning about a terrible monster which threatens to arise over the American people and wrap its tentacles about our doctors, about the people, and come right down to the bedroom in which you lie sick and helpless. Do we want this in the land of the free? Do you want a Republican or a Democratic doctor to help you ? If the Republicans are in power, you had better get the Republican doctor. If the Democrats are in power, you had better get the Democratic doctor. Doctors will even change parties with each election! You cannot imagine the corruption and confusion all this will breed. You will not be able to get the doctor you want; the plan won't work that way. You will go where the Government tells you to go and have only the doctors the Government lets you have. That is where your liberty is involved.
The way socialized medicine is set up in Russia* and England, and the way it works in Germany of course, it comes rather slowly and begins rather innocently - it takes away human freedom. One of the greatest privileges you have, whether you know it or not, is to change doctors. My, it is wonderful to be able to go to another doctor if you think it necessary! You can do that about a preacher, too. If you don't like this preacher, if you don't care for the way he preaches, you may go somewhere else. But, when Government medicine lays a hold on the people, you are assigned to a certain area, and you go there. It will be made unprofitable for you to go anywhere else.
The first thing you know, when you go to the doctor, instead of his asking you how you are; how is the family, bow is Grandpa, how is Mary, how is Jane, and did she get over the measles all right, you will go with a, tag number; you will be run through the line, an assembly line; your card will he gotten out and stamped. The doctor in charge will stick you in the arm with a cure-all, will stamp your card again, and out you go. That is not overstretching or overdrawing the picture one bit. That precious personal relationship between the doctor and his patient will be stolen from you. The red tape, the organization, and the build-up of a political system will kill the "family physician." Then do you know what will happen? If you do get well, you have to thank the State. The State saved your life - the Democratic Party healed you! It did it for nothing -or at least so they will tell you, but they did it -at the price of your freedom.
But let us go one step further with this wicked system. All this has to do with the Biblical principle of the relationship of the individual to God. When you want help, you have to pray to the administration for it, to the agency. My, oh, my, the rush to get into political power will be tremendous, and when a man is in political power he will have the finest hospital bed and service, with all the agents and nurses at his beck and, call. And the rest of us? Where will we come in? Well, believe me, I will never get anything after this sermon! I would be afraid to have a State doctor operate on me! I really would! I don't know what he might do to me. He would explain to my wife that there was a development he didn't anticipate! And I would be dead, or I would die in a short time. Do you want that kind of thing in America? God forbid. Don't let anybody tell you that such things would not happen. Man has sin and murder in his heart. Hatred is fanned by corruption and tyranny.
There has been only one time in my life when I was very seriously ill. I will never forget it. I had pneumonia when I was a boy out in Oklahoma. I did not take a bath on Saturday night as I was supposed to do. So I got up early and took it Sunday morning before I went to Sunday school. I had to walk a mile and a half every Sunday to Sunday school. After taking my bath my hair was wet and as I was on my way to Sunday school there came one of these sudden "northers." I was chilled and I had to walk home in the cold. I came down with pneumonia. Mother called in dear Dr. Haywood. He attended our church, and always sat up on the right side -I will never forget him.
Well, they began to work on me. That was in the days when they put mustard plasters on you -and antiphlogistine. They had me plastered in the front and plastered in the back. There was supposed to be a nineday crisis. Do you remember those old days? Well, I had the nine-day crisis, and when that crisis came, I was delirious. They did not think they were going to save me. I will never forget how that dear doctor came again and again and told me they were doing everything they could and that I would be all right.
In the meantime, he called Mother and said, "Call in the neighbors and pray for this boy." Think of a doctor telling a mother to pray about her sick son'! They prayed, and when the crisis came, something happened in my lungs and I began to get well. When I got on my feet, I went to see the doctor, and I said, "Doctor, thank you for what you have done for me." He said, "Carl, I didn't do it. The Great Physician did it. Thank Him." We paid the bill; nothing would have been too much to pay. We did not pay the State!
That doctor has gone to be with the Lord now. He was our family physician. He took care of me that time; he took care of my brother when he was sick. He came to church every Sunday. Many times I have seen one of the ushers in the church conic down the aisle and tap Dr. Haywood on the shoulder, and the doctor would get up and go out. Everybody knew where they could get Dr. Haywood on Sunday. He was a Christian. No one would call his office on Sunday morning. He was always at church. He had a testimony to His Lord and Saviour.
One of the most precious privileges God has given our country has been such doctors, such teachers, such preachers, in our free order. Do you want the time to come when you will go to a State hospital and in the bedroom there will be a little plaque on the wall stating, This is being paid for by the State of New Jersey under the revised constitution? Do you want that kind of thing? Or do you want it to be in the free, benevolent way in which it has been in the days past? Beloved, that is the decision we must make.
Now let me say a word to the doctors about this issue. Their freedom is at stake;, but their freedom is our freedom. It is not their battle alone; it is a free people's struggle. In England, ninety-two per cent of the doctors are against their socialized medicine. But they cannot help it. I don't know what the ratio is in this country, but many of the doctors in this country are afraid; they are scared. I can't blame them.
When I sent out word that I was going to bring this message this morning, I received letters and telephone calls from many doctors, and many sent me material on socialized medicine.
But I am dealing with this matter from the spiritual angle, from the Word of God, from the concept of the eternal God. God is on the side of freedom! That is how it must be dealt with if our land is to be saved. If this thing is going to be defeated in our country, it is going to be defeated by Christian men and women who love liberty and who love their God, and who want to keep the possession of their bodies and have the privilege of calling the doctor of their own choice. And if they don't like one doctor, they want the privilege of calling another.
This is what I want to say now to the doctors. Do you know one reason why we are being asked to have this socialized medicine program? It is because, they say, there are some neglected areas in the country where the level of society is low. They do not tell us that we have the best health of any nation on the face of the earth. Of course there are problems and needy places, but let us meet them as free men, and not as agents and employees of the State.
I want to speak a kind word directly to the doctors. Some are here this morning. Did you ever stop to think that this might be a judgment of God coming down upon you and your profession because of the godlessness that is in it? Have you ever stopped to think that God Almighty Himself may be speaking to you, and that too many of you have taken a professional attitude instead of the humane attitude? May it not be that some of you are getting too much interested in making money and doing this and that for yourself, and that the old concept of the family doctor and of service has failed?
How do you get the love of men and the love of service in your heart? You cannot love the sick until you love Christ. You -cannot be a humanitarian in its full meaning until you know the grace of God. You cannot deal with the human body, whether with salve or a knife, until you look at that body as the handiwork of the Creator and yourself as the assistant of the Almighty in dealing with human misery and suffering. If we could get the doctors of this country to cry to God and to listen to the glorious message of Jesus Christ, that He came to die for our sins, that God raised Him from the dead, that He is alive, God would hear their prayer and save them. What a privilege it is to be a doctor, to minister to the bodies of men! And what a privilege it is to be a minister, like myself, and to minister to the souls of men! We go to the hospitals and stand by the sickbeds and hear some patient say, "The doctor was just here and he told me this." Then we pray together. There is a hand-in-glove relationship between the ministry and the physicians. That is something America needs to have again.
The remedy for the threat of socialized medicine is not just some proposed plan of the physicians. The remedy, so far as the doctors are concerned, is the determination of the doctors to take the great principles as they see them in medicine and follow them out in their participation in and support of the historic Christian faith which gave us all our freedom.
What are you going to do about this? Listen to the pastor and agree, or are you going to let your sentiment and your position be felt in those places where it will count for freedom? Socialized medicine, Lenin said, is but the keystone of the arch into the socialist state. The appeal to the needy and their health - the emotional, sentimental appeal - is used to confuse the mighty issues as they concern our freedom and the freedom of our country.
May God help us.