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David Hegg: Where does health care really start?

Posted: April 6, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 6, 2014 2:00 a.m.

I imagine we’re all caught up in the great paradox that is the current dialogue on health care. It seems to be everywhere, on every broadcast and Internet news show, with pundits and anchors analyzing every number and statement that becomes available.

The Affordable Care Act has become the stuff of national conversation no matter which side you’re on.

But from the beginning I’ve been concerned that an essential question is yet to be asked and answered. Here it is: Just what is “health?” Who gets to decide what “healthy” is, and even more important, what makes a “healthy” life?

One of the challenges in any area of health care is defining what health is.

For many it has everything to do with how you look. Are you slim and trim, and able to wear skinny jeans? Do you look good in jogging shorts? And how about when the sun is out and surf’s up? Are you swimsuit healthy?

Those with a bit more sense insist that as long as your numbers are good, you must be healthy ,,, regardless of how you look in spandex. Blood pressure okay? Cholesterol okay? Blood sugar where it should be? Congrats, you’re healthy!

But, sadly, there are scores of folks with good bodies and good numbers who are just plain miserable. They look good, but the choices they’ve made have left them with no one to love and, consequently, they’ve become addicted to the hypocrisy of trying to look happy.

They’re ready to fake it until they make it. But the finest physique and latest fashion don’t an emotionally healthy life make.

So what is health? There is no argument that it includes the right physical functions of our bodies, along with the ability to do the things life asks of us.

But those who think health is only a matter of physical processes just don’t understand the realities of life.

Health might be thought of as a three-legged stool. Each leg is necessary while insufficient alone.

The first leg is the medical health of the body. The second leg is the emotional well-being of the person. The third leg is the one that so often determines the health of the first two.

It is the moral core of the person. The ancients called it the soul.

The soul is that immaterial part of us where consciousness and moral decision-making reside. It is this leg of the human stool that Thomas Nagel argues persuasively demonstrates the absurdity of a purely materialistic theory of origins and evolutionary progress.

Purely physical processes can never produce the immaterial consciousness we all enjoy. And it is this part of the human organism that most needs to be healthy.

It is the soul that determines who we really are and the choices we make. It is the soul that archives our values, character, virtue, and ethical paradigm.

In the arena of the soul we sift information, opportunities, and risk, and then determine the course we will pursue. This is important simply because we all know that physical and emotional health are, to a large extent, the result of good or not-so-good choices.

If you choose to put dangerous substances into your body, you will adversely affect your physical health. And if you fail to learn self-control and how to love someone sacrificially, you will damage your emotional health.

So what about affordable health care? Here’s the deal: The most important component in a healthy life can be improved without any insurance policy or professional help.

Exercise your soul. Think deeply about the great questions of life. Who are you? Why are you here? Where are you going? What kind of person do you most want to be?

I believe the answers to all these start with a recognition that our lives matter and are heading somewhere because Almighty God created us as his image bearers, to bring him glory in all things, and to live out his truth and love in all directions.

That’s what keeps my soul healthy, my outlook joyful, and my life filled with real purpose. And turns out, if you like God, you can keep him ... forever!

David Hegg is a senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs Sundays in The Signal.


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