We, as Christians, can view most issues one of two ways: From the perspective of the flesh, or from a spiritual viewpoint. The fleshly view is the natural view — the way any natural person might look at an issue. The spiritual is the God’s eye view. Let’s take a common issue and try to see it from both perspectives.
I have chosen an issue that’s close to my heart: The fear of the loss of autonomy. As the Imperial Presidency of Barach Obama steamrolls its way through American life, I see our personal freedoms being strangled in a growing maze of bureaucracy and regulation. Our President has decided to ignore Congress and wield the power of the pen in a possible blizzard of executive orders. You and I can no longer feel secure in the protections offered by the Constitution with its Bill of Rights. The Christian religion is being incrementally painted into an ever smaller corner.
With the signing into law of Obamacare, the government has gained control of a massive portion of the American economy – not to mention frightening Big Brother powers through a now politicized IRS. I see so many of our freedoms slipping away, and the other supposedly co-equal branches of government seem helpless, or unwilling, to do anything about it. Washington is a morass of lawyers, lobbyists and career politicians who seem to be collectively incapable of pulling out of the quicksand of business as usual. As talk show host Dennis Prager often says: “The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” As government power grows and encroaches on more areas of life, our autonomy and freedom are diminished. Government is not God but it’s beginning to act like it is.
The Personal Level
They say that when you get old, you become invisible. There’s truth to that. At the same time, you gradually lose your personal autonomy. Others, including the government, begin to take over aspects of your life. You become intimately familiar with waiting rooms and doctor’s offices. Depending on what your symptoms are, you may become locked in to “drug cocktails,” all of which have at least some degree of toxicity. “Treatment” for the diseases of aging becomes a game of Russian roulette with your life. Doctors compete with government for the title “God.”
If you choose to place your health care into the hands of “natural” health care practitioners, you are not covered by insurance and you are accused of trusting in “quacks.” Many so called quacks have been hounded out of business by powerful government agencies. We do not have true health freedom in this country. Again; a diminishing of autonomy.
As we age, our bodies and their capacities grow weaker. Many of us contract deadly, wasting diseases like diabetes, cancers, heart disease, kidney and bladder infections, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, ALS, crippling arthritis, and others. All of these diseases, to some degree, rob us of autonomy. When we contract one, or several of them, we become increasingly dependent on the help of others.
This help may come with a price. For example, in 2012, the average cost of a private nursing home room was $248/day or more than $90,500/year. At the low end, a room shared with another person can go for as little as $1500/month – That’s $3000 per couple. At this level, quality of life can be questionable.
Most American households have relatively little savings at retirement. USA.com reports the highest level of retirement savings as $34,755 in Washington. DC (2008-2010). The lowest level is in West Virginia at $15,345. All other states are somewhere in between. Suffice it to say most Americans are not well prepared for the financially demanding rigors of retirement life. The replacement of a single tooth can cost a senior $5000 or more!
Prior to retirement, nearly half of the country lives paycheck to paycheck – according to Time magazine (1/30/2014).Such people are described as “liquid asset poor.” The article went on to say “…44% of Americans are living with less than $5,887 in savings for a family of four.” Virtually any financial emergency can be a wipeout and a threat to tenuous autonomy.
Depending on a fiscally irresponsible and rapacious governments or opportunistic money lenders is not the way to achieve autonomy. As we age, virtually “everything” conspires against our physical and fiscal independence. We may have to fight to maintain it. We may have to use all the prayerful ingenuity we can muster to preserve even a vestige of autonomy.
On the other hand, we should graciously accept help when it is generously offered and pray that God will bless those who have blessed us.