What the Broken Pustules Want

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Lurking just beneath the surface of every reform movement to change the world is the innate and depraved human lust to run the world. And since this is actually the fundamental thing about our sorry planet that needs to be reformed (and can only be reformed by the Holy Spirit), we find that the medicines we apply are simply perpetuating the infection. Wowsers, do-gooders and bleeding hearts do not see that the central problem in all their problem solving is that they are aspiring to Deity, and they are wanting to solve problems that no human being, or collection of human beings, can possibly hope to solve.

When they urge the passage of Obamacare because this person will now “have coverage,” they overlook the fact that nothing good can come from men wanting to be God. And men want to be God when they insist that every program address all the problems — if they are appalled at the idea that certain significant problems have no political solutions, then they are still in the grip of the serpent’s lie.

If we refuse the course of action they are urging, they will no doubt point to some (very real) problem that will now go unaddressed. But to refuse to go the way of a lunatic hubris does not constitute a warm approval of that particular problem. To fear the devil you don’t know does not constitute backslapping the devil you do know.

To bring it down to particulars, let us ask the question this way. Suppose Obamacare is repealed in the House, and this spooks enough senators that they go along with repeal as well. Since there are not enough votes to override a veto, let us suppose that Obama has a miraculous moment of humility and he signs the repeal. Now what? We are back to the kind of health care we had before. Were there no problems with that? No, there were huge problems. So let us suppose that every health care provider in the country starts reading up on Friedman, Hayek, and Sowell. A revival of free market solutions then sweeps the country. Would I be happy with that? You bet. Would some people still be getting screwed by their insurance companies? Again, you bet.

I don’t like that. I don’t approve of that. If I am exhorting my desk mate down at the insurance company, I tell him, “Don’t screw the customers, Bobby!” All I am saying is that global hubris in political affairs, the totalitarian impulse, is a sorcerer’s apprentice kind of thing. As I periodically tell people in counseling, there is no problem you might have that you can’t, by diligent effort, make far worse.

Now of course, the parable of the Good Samaritan, along with the tenor of Scripture everywhere, teaches us that our neighbor is the one in front of us, and that our obligation to love our neighbor must translate into concrete action. Our obligation to love involves people, not abstractions. Our obligation to love involves people, not statistical analysis from the World Bank. Our obligation to love involves people, which means that our obligations are near and clear.

When we undertake to solve problems that are not near and clear, we need to have, in the forefront of our minds, the fact that we are being tempted to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. We are being tempted, not to partake of forbidden fruit in our garden, which would be bad enough, but are rather being tempted to scale the heights of heaven to take fruit from the garden of God Himself. And if you have read the right kind of stories, if you know anything about the nature of the human heart, you know that this . . . how shall I put it? . . . never works out well.  

C.S. Lewis remarks somewhere that the desire to “control nature” is actually the desire to control other people, with nature as the instrument. This basic manipulative move occurs in countless circumstances. So when someone from the government shows up at my door, and he is here “to help me,” and asks what my biggest problem is, how can I communicate to him that my biggest problem is that I live in a fallen and broken world? And that the central thing that complicates this fallenness enormously is that the arrogant heart which broke it in the first place wants to be in charge of all the reconstruction? And won’t take no for an answer?

The broken pustules want to have a medical degree conferred upon them, and to be given complete liberty in taking over this patient’s sad case. That’s all they ask.



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