Better Health Poorer Christianity

The LCMS Concordia Plan Services has published Better Health for 29 years.  Based on James 4:4, I’d say any better health that they may promote is offset by the poorer Christianity they produce.

James 4:4 says, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Better Health trumpets, exultates, imitates the world’s message that bodily health is the best you can hope for on earth. Your goal is to see how long you can live healthily on this earth.  So much for Paul’s departing to be with Christ being far better.

Here’s some of the titles from the Summer 2013 issue: “Traits for Living Well,” “Forgo the Fast Food,”  “Be Sun Screen Smart This Summer,” “Head-Slapping Sense about Vegetable Juice,” “Aim for a Tether-Free Vacation (i.e. cut your electronic ties),” and “Happily and Healthily Ever After (Sorry, no eternal perspective here either; it’s about married people being healthier.).”

Now remember we are paying people to publish these medical mantras of modern society.  We’re paying someone to cut and paste (virtually all the articles are copied) from the likes of U.S. News and World Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Skin Cancer Foundation,, PRNewswire, WebMD, and Focus on the Family.

Actually, they are paying us too.  This issue says, “Don’t forget that active members of the Concordia Health Plan and enrolled spouses can each earn a bonus $25 for giving up fast food (or continuing to do without) for 3 consecutive weeks this summer (July 1 – Aug. 31).”  This reminds me of the 90s when the Roman Catholic Church offered indulgences for those who gave up smoking.  I know; I know; there is no spiritual benefit dangled before us, but isn’t it a small step between paying people to give up fast food to saying they must?  It’s kind of funny; the Catholic’s offered indulgences to give up vices, and Concordia Plan Services offers money to give up indulgences.

You shouldn’t misread me here.  I take Concordia Plan Services’ bribes.  I received over 200 dollars last year for things I was already doing weekly walking, vegetable servings, and something else that I can’t remember. I will take their 25 bucks for foregoing fast food which I have since my kids outgrew Happy Meals. I will take their money even as when I lived in cities where the police have offered money for guns.  In Detroit and New Orleans I took my grandfather’s .32 revolver that he bought for a couple of bucks from a vending machine (No lie; it could be done circa 1920.) and went to get 50 bucks toward the purchase of a gun I could use.  Unfortunately, both times they ran out of money within hours.  Hmmm, something tells me that such programs really are too good to be true, but the people running them just don’t know it.

Likewise, our friends at Concordia Health Plans.  They are going to tell you that, “Our studies show that paying people for these healthy steps reap much more in healthcare savings.” Go here to see the latest Rand study showing they don’t work, but for now I’m believing what Concordia Plans is telling us.  But I am telling you that it is the world that fixates people on first death issues.  The Church does not.  She knows the first death is unavoidable no matter how much sun screen you slap on, how much fast food you forego, and how married you are.  No, her focus is on the second death from which there is redemption, salvation, life in Jesus’ name.

But you know me, when given lemons I make lemonade.  If you really know me, you know that is not true at all. Except for maybe here.  I take the money Concordia Health Plan Services pays me for the “healthy” things I do and I spend it at the liquor store and the tobacconist.  And you know when I do that I do feel better about my health.



About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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