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Friday, October 26, 2012

God and Gimme

     A few times too many, I've been told that Christian charity requires support for government redistribution plans like welfare and public housing and Obamacare. This is a gross distortion of scripture. Sure, the Bible contains many admonitions to believers to care for the poor, but it never, ever tells us that government programs are the delivery system. Voting for big government to do the job of caring for the poor means outsourcing the duty that God lays on us as His people and violating a few commandments rather baldly.
     Start with "You shall have no other gods before Me," as in Deuteronomy 20:3. The Lord has just reminded His people that He is the one Who brought them out of slavery in Egypt. He fed them. He gave them water. He even made sure their clothes never wore out during their time in the wilderness. He was their rescuer, their provider, their sustainer. Those are solid credentials for being their one God, and He won't be happy if they replace Him. Now, if we claim to be followers of that same God in His Son Jesus Christ, shouldn't we look to Him first for food, clothing, shelter and freedom? Making government the source of all sustenance replaces God. He doesn't like it. He is a jealous God.
    "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven," says Jesus in Matthew 23:9. I used to think this meant that Catholics were wrong to call their priests "father," but a look at history (and current events) showed me something different. I remember reading that in Communist China, schoolchildren were taught to begin their day with thanks to Chairman Mao for their school, their breakfast, every valuable thing. Perhaps you've seen reports of North Korean children expressing the same gratitude to Kim Jong Il. Remember Germans calling "Heil, Hitler" in place of "hello" and "good-bye." No more "gruss Gott" (roughly, "greet God") as a greeting. More recently, we were treated to video of various American schoolchildren singing praises to Barack Hussein Obama, mmm, mmm, mmm. Now that's calling someone on earth your father, seeing a human being, or a human institution, as the source of your well-being.
     Farther along in the Ten Commandments, we find "You shall not covet" and "You shall not steal." These two sins  are the basis of the welfare state. The leftist demagogue encourages "the poor" to ignore any of their own behavior which might have left them in poverty, such as scorning school, serial fornication, illegitimacy, drugs, alcohol, or crime, and to think only that some other people have more than they do. (Disregard also the self-discipline and work ethic of that group.) They get angry. They demand their "fair share." That's the coveting part. Next, they vote for the politicians who promise to use the power of the state to take what the "rich" have earned and hand it over to them in the form of food credit cards, housing, medical care and sometimes plain old cash. That's the stealing part.
     So what is my responsibility? I take my cue from Leviticus 19: 9,10. "When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God." I think this tells me not to spend every penny, but to keep something to devote to charity. Widows and orphans may need something directly from my hand, but the gleaners were the "working poor," emphasis on "working." Landowners were to leave something for the poor, but the poor were to get into the fields and pick it up. (See Ruth and Naomi.)
      In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul recounts how he and his team declined to freeload off the townspeople, but worked for their food. Then he hit them with verse 10: "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." That's the element that seems to be missing completely from our "entitlement" system. Be responsible for yourself. Work to support yourself and your family. Make enough to help others.
     Mr. Obama is fond of saying he wants everyone to have a "fair share." Well, my share of Bill Gates's money is zero. My share of Mitt Romney's money is zero. And Obama's share of my money is zero. Listen, if you're hungry, I'll make you a sandwich. If you can rake leaves, I'll pay you for it. But don't send the IRS to ransack my pantry or my wallet and call me names when I object. I'll choose my own charities, individual or organized, and I'll answer to God. I'm pretty sure giving to the Salvation Army is better stewardship than promoting big government bureaucracy.