Christian Charity and the Welfare State
- Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Pardon the bluntness, but Paul’s strongly worded admonition is pertinent here: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing…” (II Cor.6:15, 17).
Our founding fathers had it right. They understood that government power poses potentially the greatest threat to human rights. Washington likened government to fire—useful when carefully confined and controlled, but fearsomely destructive when it surges out of control. Jefferson said that Americans should diligently use the chains of the Constitution to prevent government from “mischief” (a euphemism for harm and havoc). Our founders would counsel us not to expect government to do good, but rather to keep it small and limited, lest its power be perverted to evil ends, the primary one being infringements on our God-given rights.
The secular socialists embrace the pernicious philosophy of egalitarianism. They want to use government to make people more equal. In doing so, they are warring against nature and nature’s God, since He has given each of us different abilities (remember the parable of the talents). The Bible, by contrast, establishes the sacred principle of equality before the law—“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15; see also 2 Samuel 14:14; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Proverbs 24:23; Romans 2:11; Colossians 3:25; James 2:9). Secularists and statists believe in unequal treatment before the law—a system of discrimination and privileges that plunders the property of some to give it to others so that everyone may be equal in what they own. We have a clear choice to make. Either we follow God’s guidance and uphold the rule of law, or we reject Him and enthrone a system of privileges which breeds conflict rather than cooperation and peace.
The good news (in addition to the Good News of the gospel) for American Christians is that there are no laws preventing us, either as individuals, churches, or voluntary organizations, from engaging in charitable activities and helping the poor. Each one of us is free to do Christian works without hindrance or persecution from the temporal political powers (although we could do so much more if the state were not appropriating and consuming so much of our wealth). Let us go forth and discharge our Christian duties to help the poor. Let us also commit ourselves to the lofty and worthy goal of preserving our republic and defending its inspired Constitution, without which we would be neither as free nor as prosperous as we are. Let us pull back from the precipice over which Rome and other self-bankrupting democracies have plunged.
We have a choice: Put our trust in God’s wisdom or man’s wisdom; honor and protect man’s God-given rights or augment the power of government which jeopardizes those rights; submit to the divine will or exercise human will; serve the creator of all or the prince of this world; to live as free men and women or as wards and minions of the state.
The choice for humans always boils down to the basic choice set forth in the book of Deuteronomy:
See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply… I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days (Deut. 30:15,16,19,20).
Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.
Publication date: April 19, 2011
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