Sunday, April 4, 2010

Would Jesus Advocate Government Welfare?

Today is Easter - the most sacred of all Christian holidays; yet I have been sent messages claiming that Jesus would want us to institute government welfare because he said we should support the poor and care for our fellow man.  While I certainly don't disagree that one of Jesus' primary teachings was to love our neighbors, the suggestion that neighborly love, benevolence, or generosity should come via our government is neither Biblical nor wise.

Throughout the Bible we are told to give to our neighbor, but never to give to our government so that our government can take care of our responsibility to be generous.  Matthew 22:21, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."  In this passage Jesus clearly delineates between what is of this World and what is of God.  If taxes paid to the government belong to the government and not God, then how would paying taxes be a substitute for doing God's work?  Does anyone honestly pay their taxes in the belief that by so doing they fulfill God's intent for us to be generous and caring towards our neighbors?  Wouldn't it be handy to just pay taxes and have all your Christian responsibilities to your fellow man taken care of?  It's a nice thought (not really) but God knows the true intent of our heart: 1 Chronicles 28:9, "...for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts..."  

Although God warns us to respect our government, he never suggests that we are to fulfill his will for our lives through government.  The notion that God would want us to enact welfare programs through government is unfounded.  Moreover, compulsory giving, a.k.a. taxes, is not genuine giving.  Government benevolence is an oxymoron and rampant examples reveal how ineffective it is at meeting genuine needs.  Most importantly, though, is the fact that God does not ask us to offload our responsibilities for caring for one another upon someone else, much less the government.  It is our sole responsibility to directly help those in need and to, "Love your neighbor as yourself."   

7 comments:

  1. THANK YOU for posting this. I LOVE your blog!

    Common Cents
    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

    ps. Link Exchange??

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  2. "Many Christians, especially younger Christians, have bought into the notion of government-mandated 'social justice.' They believe that the forced redistribution of wealth somehow completes Christ’s teachings."

    The above quote is from Gary Bauer's "End of Day" report 4/7/10 which gives added perspective on your topic. www.ouramericanvalues.org/eod

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  3. Sorry to both of you for my belated response. I appreciate the links.

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  4. Problem is govt has to force peoples hand via taxes to pay for social programs like welfare because we wouldn't pay it otherwise. People aren't mad we have to pay taxes to govt who then supports these programs there mad the programs exist that's the prob we are greedy

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  5. Michael,

    The data shows a clear inverse relationship between taxes and charitable giving - so I reject your assertion that people don't want to give. The reality is that government taxation displaces charity

    Moreover, government social welfare programs don't work. Social Security, intended to end poverty in America, has failed to change the percentage of impoverished Americans. Medicare and Medicaid were to provide health coverage for all Americans, but if it worked then why did we need Obamacare?

    Finally, there is nothing benevolent about government welfare. Prior to the advent of these programs people took care of one another. The Great Depression was bad and FDR sold Americans a bill of goods that was supposed to help, but it ultimately did nothing and instead moved real charity out of the private sector and embedded it in the much more costly (and less effective $/assistance) public sector.

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  6. Sorry, guys. Public sector assistance does work. That's why social mobility is now higher in Scandinavia, Holland, and Canada than in what used to be the home of upward mobility, the United States. And remember, charity is not about improving your credit with God. It is about relieving the suffering of the world in imitation of Jesus. We can disagree on the most efficient means of doing so, but to claim that public assistance is un-Biblical is just a stretch too far. God cares more about the suffering of the poor than about your political correctness. Sorry about the very late response --came across this blog while searching for pictures of Jesus teaching for my Sunday School class.

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  7. Dear Anonymous,

    Define "work."

    Don't try to compare Scandinavia, Holland, and Canada to the United States and declare it equivalent. Scandinavian countries, notably Norway, are achieving greater upward mobility tanks to a loosening of the regulatory restraints on business. Canada has seen improvement precisely because it is moving away from liberal policies and politicians. The same is true of Holland. Take note of the trend of the economic freedom index in these countries in recent years - that is the root cause of improvements. You claim the long-standing social welfare programs in those countries are suddenly responsible for improvements, but completely ignore the more recent regulatory reforms actually responsible.

    Public sector assistance is an artifact of humanism: the belief that humans can engineer a better society because humankind is perfectable. The Bible makes clear benevolence is the responsibility of the individual and the church, not the government. I agree that charity cannot make you "right" with God, but how does a Government imitate Jesus? People imitate Jesus. How can people imitate Jesus when the "giving" they do via the government is compulsory under penalty of fines or imprisonment?

    The problem with simply "disagree[ing] on the most efficient means of doing so..." is the "inefficiencies" in government social programs has led to booked government debts of $17 Trillion and unfunded liabilities of $90 Trillion. All the while, the U.S. poverty rate has never declined below the 1964 level when Johnson kicked off his "Great Society" campaign. What does the Bible teach about taking a loan you know you cannot repay and fiscal responsibility? This more than an issue of mere efficiency, this is criminal and moral depravity.

    Mexico is an excellent example of the failure of social programs. Mexico's entire constitution was written as a progressive treatise, outlining the social responsibilities of the government. In spite of the fifth largest energy reserves in the World, Mexico has a 70% poverty level and an average income of $14,400/person. Their state owned oil monopoly, Pemex, has been used as a cash cow by the government for decades and funds 34% of the country's budget and social welfare programs. In 2012, 99.7% of Pemex's REVENUES were siphoned off by the gov't. Consequently, oil and gas production has declined dramatically due to lack of reinvestment and has compromised worker pensions and led to massive debts held by Pemex. Is this what Jesus intended? Mexico's economy could be thriving were it not for your brand of political correctness (I suggest you look up the definition because I don't think you quite understand it). The jobs, upward mobility, income equality, health, and living conditions of all Mexicans would benefit greatly. The impetus to risk life and limb to cross the border to the U.S. would be muted.

    Please do some research before claiming social welfare "works." There are deleterious economic impacts of such programs causing far more harm than good. Be careful of your theology...liberation theology is borne out of the African Marxist movement, and that is the brainchild of secularism and atheism, not God.

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