Saturday, May 10, 2014

Is it a Christian's Duty to Help Expand Government Charity?

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Jimmy Carter is probably quite honest in his opinion (left), although he seems frighteningly deficient in his understanding of the American system of government and the Scriptures' advice on the subject.  Scripture does say, "Render unto Caesar, the things that are Caesar's and even did a miracle to help Peter pay his taxes. The moneylenders were the crony capitalists of Jesus' day and He did not approve of their activities at all. Jesus said if the government asks you to carry a burden one mile carry it two. Jesus was talking about a government ruled by kings and emperors. He was not talking about a government of the people, by the people and for the people. If He were He would have very likely had some things to say about our responsibility not to let our government drag people out of their beds and make them carry heavy loads for the Army.

Because our American government derives its power and its mission from the people, we are charged with responsibility for what it does. That is why we vote - to guide our leaders and to tell them what we want them to do.  And in that process, yes, we may have to pay our taxes to support things we do not like, but that enough of our citizens voted to do anyway. Thanks, however, to our constitution, we are not required to shut up and give tacit approval to those things the government does that we think are wrong or even misguided by our silence. It is our responsibility in a democratic republic to provide guidance to our government's representatives as to how we want to run things.

If we see that government doesn't do a thing very well, it ought to be our responsibility to require that our government representatives step aside and stop interfering with those who do perform those tasks well. After all, it is our government. Our congress, senate, judiciary and administration were not seen by our founders as infinite law generating machines. At some point, if you keep adding laws and systems to a government, eventually it collapses of its own weight. I do believe that, unless we can get a few congresses that abolish more laws than they make, we are not far from that collapse now.

Jesus never said we could buy freedom from guilt or our responsibility to the poor at a discount by making our neighbors pay "their share". Charity by taxation is a way for wealthy people to not have to pay as much to fulfill our Christian duty to the poor. That's one powerful reason for some wealthy people to favor charity through government taxation. It costs them less and they don't have to feel guilty because they can tell themselves, "It's the government's responsibility, not mine."

Charity to the poor, the widows and orphans has always been a duty Christians are expected to perform regardless of what "everybody else" does. We are not relieved of that duty simply because the government demands we pay a high tax rate so it can give help to the poor. We can't shuffle off our responsibilities that way. It is not allowed. We are commanded to give real help to the poor, to set them on their feet and help them become strong and independent - to set them free. The type of help the government gives is not help at all, but a subtle enslavement of those it purports to help. It serves the interests of the wealthy and powerful because it creates a large dependent class who will reliably vote for those who pay them their pittance. That is all.

Christian charity as God would have it, sets free the poor, the disabled, the sick and the poor of spirit. True charity will always set people free, not just make them reliable political supporters.

© 20114 by Tom King

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