In the spirit of another upcoming election, here are some very thought-provoking questions and answers.
Jesus and Charity
Question: What are your thoughts on Jesus and charity?
Answer: Jesus did tell us to help the poor, that’s true. The question is, where would Jesus draw the line? Would he expect us to help every poor or homeless person in our neighborhood? Town? County? Country? (In the case of borders, even other countries?) Would Jesus expect us to give until we become as poor and dependent as those we’re trying to help? Where would he draw the line? (Bear in mind how much the average working American already contributes to helping the poor through taxes.)
Obviously, that’s for each person to decide for themselves. Many people have families, mortgages, car loans, college loans, and many other responsibilities to account for before they can even begin to think about giving to charity. With the ever increasing cost of living, especially in raising a child, most people don’t have much left over (in fact, if you’re in debt, you technically don’t have any left over). My feeling is, don’t feel bad if you can’t give much to charity. If a good opportunity presents itself and feels important to you, and you have it in the budget to help, then give what feels right out of the kindness of your heart.
Personally, I enjoy helping out on little things that I know make a difference. Supporting fundraisers for school activities or other organizations like Girl Scouts or the Salvation Army are ways that I feel a little goes a long way.
I’ll also add this: there’s a difference between being selfish and being responsible. The word responsibility means being able to respond. Give when you can, but be sure that you are able to respond to your own personal needs first. There’s nothing selfish about that.
Would Jesus Be a Socialist?
Question: How would Jesus navigate a capitalistic democracy?
Answer: Great question! Perhaps Jesus would opt out and live more along the lines of the Amish, who practice simple, voluntary communal living, not government sponsored communism/socialism. As far as capitalistic democracy is concerned, it has helped western countries become the most prosperous nations in the history of mankind, helping to raise the standard of living for the common man (and the poor, as well) to fantastic heights. (My personal reason for liking capitalism, at least the way it used to be practiced, is that you only paid for what you wanted—and if you didn’t want it, you didn’t have to pay for it. That goes along pretty well with my strong beliefs in freedom.) I believe capitalism would continue to prosper if not for “special interests” shaping laws and regulations in their favor, but that’s a complex topic; best to stick to the topic at hand.
Would Jesus be a socialist? I don’t believe that Jesus would be. Voluntary wealth redistribution (charity) is fine. But would Jesus consider it love to take (steal) money (property) from one individual and give it to another (wealth redistribution), with the threat of violence or imprisonment if they refuse? That’s not love, that’s theft. Thou shalt not steal and Thou shalt not covet are two of the Ten Commandments, so I think that’s pretty indicative of where Jesus would stand on socialism.
On top of that, I do not believe that socialism is a “completely selfless ideology,” as some people believe. Voluntary communal living could be, but not government sponsored communism/socialism. I’m sorry to say this, but I see most socialists as being very covetous, with little to no respect for other people’s property (money), and who wish to steal the fruits of someone else’s labor. I see them as control freaks who believe that they (they being voting socialists or socialist governments) have the right to redistribute other people’s money as they see fit. That’s not freedom. That’s not the way of love.
Yes, I believe that Jesus would have been considered very liberal in terms of love in personal relationships (both with our fellow man and with God), but I’m not convinced that it would translate the same politically or economically. Sure, I believe Jesus would expect us to love anyone who has different beliefs or sexual preferences, but many other issues are harder to discern. Being that God gave us all free will, I believe that Jesus would also have been a champion of freedom. With freedom comes responsibility—what we choose to do with that freedom is up to us as individuals.
In America, we already have a fair amount of wealth redistribution. Both wealthy and middle class Americans are doing their part to help the poor or those who are in need. There are many government-sponsored opportunities for anyone living around or below the poverty line to take advantage of, but as tough love would say, there comes a time when people in need must do everything in their power to help themselves as well. Like I said above, with freedom comes responsibility. (I’m all for helping those who are truly unable to work or have other legitimate disabilities, for the record.)
I’ll ask again, for good measure: would Jesus consider it love to take (steal) money (property) from one individual and give it to another (wealth redistribution/socialism), with the threat of violence or imprisonment if they refuse? That’s not love, that’s theft. Always has been, always will be.
We should never diminish the idea of consent in our interactions with our fellow man, either individually or as a society or nation. If a person doesn’t give their consent to take their money or property, then it can only be considered theft, based strictly on the definitions of the terms.
Remember, many wealthy people work very hard for their money, and despite what is sometimes portrayed in the media, statistics show that the very wealthy pay a large majority of the taxes in this country (don’t just take my word for it, look it up!). No one is entitled to someone else’s money, just because they have a lot of it. It would be great if certain rich families or business owners chose to do more by their own free will out of love for a greater good, but it is only love if they give, not if it is stolen or confiscated through taxes or political movements.
We must always respect the freedom each person has to give or withhold as they see fit.
Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong, but that’s The Truth as I See It.