Four Sheets of Parchment vs. 2032 Pages of Government Control

The Constitution of the United States was written on four sheets of parchment. If you count the Preamble and all 27 Amendments (there were originally only ten), it comes out to 20 typed pages. If you don’t count the signatures and amendments, you’ll have a document of 11 typed pages. No single Amendment is a full page. Many are only a single sentence in length. The First Amendment covers a multitude of freedoms: religion, press, assembly, speech, and the right to petition the government. It does it with only 45 words. Those original four sheets, about 4500 words, were good enough to serve as a document to govern a nation.

Can you imagine a 2032-page healthcare care bill with similar interpretive powers for Congress and the Courts? Consider how much damage these two governmental branches have been able to do with just four sheets of parchment. What will they be capable of doing with 2032 pages of a healthcare bill that will enable them to govern every facet of our lives?

Do you remember how the Supreme Court came to legalize abortion in 1973? Seven of the nine justices claimed to have found in the “penumbra”—the “shadows” of the Constitution—the right to abortion. Here’s how Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion, argued for the shadowy “right”:

The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, however . . . the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution. In varying contexts, the Court or individual Justices have, indeed, found at least the roots of that right in the First Amendment . . . in the Fourth and Fifth Amendments . . . in the penumbras of the Bill of Rights . . . in the Ninth Amendment . . . or in the concept of liberty guaranteed by the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment . . . .These decisions make it clear that only personal rights that can be deemed “fundamental” or “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” . . . are included in this guarantee of personal privacy. They also make it clear that the right has some extension to activities relating to marriage . . . procreation . . . contraception . . . family relationships . . . and child rearing and education . . . .

Notice that first line: “The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy.” But it doesn’t matter. One can be found in its shadows, and like shadows, they can be interpreted in almost any way, like the game parents play with their children asking what they see in cloud formations. “I see a bear. . .  I see a dog . . . I see healthcare rationing . . . I see the right to abortion . . . I see a tax on millionaires and billionaires because the Supreme Court says it’s a right.”

But didn’t some Congressmen vote for the healthcare bill because abortion was stripped out? They did. Once the government is in control of something, it gets to define it. Bureaucrats, judges, special interest groups, and all around guilt-manipulators will shine their lights on the dark places of this bill and create the shadows they need to force their long-term agenda on all of us. This healthcare bill is not about health; it’s about control.

It’s a shame that many in the pro-life community don’t see this. They believe they won one for the unborn. They haven’t. They only made it easier for so-called moderates to vote for a bill that one day will support abortion on demand and too many new laws that will affect us in ways that we cannot now imagine. While abortion is a violation of the sixth commandment, this healthcare bill violates the second (turning the State into an idol), fifth (making the State our parent), eighth (supporting legislative theft), and tenth (making covetousness a national pastime) commandments. No one has described what we are in for better than Herb Schlossberg did in his book Idols for Destruction:

“Rulers have ever been tempted to play the role of father to their people. . . . The state that acts like a wise parent instead of a vindictive judge has been an attractive image to many people.  They include ecclesiastical authorities who have completely missed the point of the gospel warning to ‘call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven’ (Matt. 23:9).  The father is the symbol not only of authority but also of provision. ‘Our Father who art in heaven. . . . Give us this day our daily bread’ (Matt. 6:9, 11).  Looking to the state for sustenance is a cultic act [an act of worship]; we rightly learn to expect food from parents, and when we regard the state as the source of physical provision we render to it the obeisance of idolatry. The crowds who had fed on the multiplied loaves and fishes were ready to receive Christ as their ruler, not because of who he was but because of the provision. John Howard Yoder has rightly interpreted that scene: ‘The distribution of bread moved the crowd to acclaim Jesus as the new Moses, the provider, the Welfare King whom they had been waiting for.’

“The paternal state not only feeds its children, but nurtures, educates, comforts, and disciplines them, providing all they need for their security. This appears to be a mildly insulting way to treat adults, but it is really a great crime because it transforms the state from being a gift of God, given to protect us against violence, into an idol. It supplies us with all blessings, and we look to it for all our needs. Once we sink to that level, as [C.S.] Lewis says, there is no point in telling state officials to mind their own business. ‘Our whole lives are their business’ [God in the Dock, p. 134]. The paternalism of the state is that of the bad parent who wants his children dependent on him forever. That is an evil impulse. The good parent prepares his children for independence, trains them to make responsible decisions, knows that he harms them by not helping them to break loose. The paternal state thrives on dependency. When the dependents free themselves, it loses power. It is, therefore, parasitic on the very persons whom it turns into parasites. Thus, the state and its dependents march symbiotically to destruction.

“When the provision of paternal security replaces the provision of justice as the function of the state, the state stops providing justice. The ersatz [artificial and inferior substitute] parent ceases executing judgment against those who violate the law, and the nation begins losing benefits of justice. Those who are concerned about the chaos into which the criminal justice system has fallen should consider what the state’s function has become.  Because the state can only be a bad imitation of a father, as a dancing bear act is of a ballerina, the protection of this Leviathan of a father turns out to be a bear hug.”1

If this bill passes the Senate, abortion will be the least of our problems because the government will have a new definition of welfare to work with. Healthcare can and will be interpreted to mean what the judges say it means. We are under a Constitution, but as history has shown the Constitution is what the judges say it is.

  1. Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and its Confrontation with American Society (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983), 183–84. []
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