Monday, March 22, 2010

Thoughts About "Welfare"

Many Christians are buying into the doctrine of “pioneer American rugged individualism” hook line and sinker. I support individual responsibility; I challenge the “individualism” being touted.

John Donne spoke a truth when writing “No man is an island. . .” We are each part of a body--family, church, community all of which go into making our culture. Hillary Clinton was pilloried from pillar to post over her line that it takes a village to raise a child, but it remains true to life. Jesus summarized the Law and the Gospel as loving God supremely and loving your neighbor as yourself. That puts the cross (the act of at-one-ment) at the core of community - as opposed to individualism.

Some “Bible believing” people fail to see the truth of the Old Testament. A strong case can be made for those a whole set of texts that show that the Bible mandated charity and didn't leave it up entirely to individuals to make the decision. There is a legitimate role of government (Christian or otherwise) involved in providing safety networks for the disenfranchised, the disabled, the impoverished, et al.

Examine the Old Testament Law of gleaning--mandated, a command from God. Farmers were to leave a portion of crops unharvested for the poor. True, we don't just transport laws from ancient Israel into our world, but one thing can't be denied: God mandated charity for the poor as a law that was more than voluntary. It was law--God-mandated, governmentally-instituted, and, probably, privately-enacted. There are other Scriptures but space limits discussion.

What did Jesus say? "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor . . . sent me to proclaim release to the captives. . .regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor” (Jubilee, cf Leviticus 25:8-18).Check out also Deuteronomy 14:28-29. Law means it was against the law not to participate--individually-given but evidently distributed by the villages:

The apostle Paul told Christians to pay taxes to Rome (Godless, rapacious, idolatrous Rome). Let Rome collect taxes; let Rome distribute the money as Rome sees fit. That's what he seems to indicate in Romans 13:5-7:
Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience.
13:6 For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants devoted to governing.
13:7 Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

What did Paul mean in 2 Corinthians 8:13-15? Does this not suggest mandatory and voluntary charity for others will eventually come full circle - a kind of "social security" in his day? “Equality" may be a radical idea, but is it only for "Christians with Christians"? Perhaps. However, isn't it making our culture more Christian to expand this principle into our culture?

8:13”: For I do not say this so there would be relief for others and suffering for you, but as a matter of equality.
8:14 At the present time, your abundance will meet their need, so that one day their abundance may also meet your need, and thus there may be equality,
8:15 as it is written: "The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little."

There is a Christian way that supercedes socialism and libertarianism as well as Republican vs. Democrat. Recognizing the worth of the individual while maintaining social equality and social responsibility are more than politics, they are ethical principles of personal morality.

Wayne at Warner’s World

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