The Role Government and Christianity In helping Others
This isn’t meant to be some sort of infallible essay. It is meant to be my personal reflection on the world I see around me.
Many people from every spectrum of politics constantly ponder and debate about the role of government in politics. Now I suppose what each of us might believe that role entails depends on our worldviews. Most of us can agree their are many problems our society faces: Homelessness, corporations who get special tax breaks and subsidies that small businesses don’t, a foreign policy that arguably encourages many people to hate America, income inequality in which people struggle to live, people who are treated differently by our justice system, .ect. (No, I’m not a Liberal.)
Well, how do we address them? What do we do? As a libertarian, I question the ability of the government to address these problems on a widespread level without suffering from the same problem it always has in history; the government and its power being bought by the richest and most influential in society. For instance when the government gives “handouts” there are always strings attached – usually ones that involve voting for the person giving you the handouts. Regardless whether handouts are a bad idea, good idea, ect there is a very direct reason to keep that person in power as well as to make sure they can take from others for whatever reasons the public deems acceptable. Currently the rich are a favorite target, but what makes it okay to take from them and give to others? Assuming someone worked their *beep* off, became rich, and didnt get every special tax break and subsidy under the sun that their competitor didnt get, why is it okay to take from them? Should wealth be a reason to take from? If we did it for reasons of race, ethinicity, ect it wouldn’t be appropriate, but why is it all of a sudden okay to take from them because we think they have too much?
Alot of the rich in our country have become rich because they have been able to buy power and legislation which directly benefits them and hurts their competitors. And its not just them. Its almost every profession and class trying to get what they can for themselves at the expense of others who are deemed to be “acceptable targets” for whatever the reasons. Look at lawyers. There are so many laws now and those laws are so complex that lawyers are now needed for almost every case. They get rich, and the poor and minorities who cant afford them get screwed. Justice becomes a normal thing for the rich. The poor are left to fend for themselves.
Beware: Indictment and reflection of Christian Church and its failings:
Now, I actually agree with liberals that the rich should share their wealth with others, specifically the less fortunate and the poor of our society. Why? Because Biblically the rich are supposed to take care of the poor. The homeless. The widows. The orphans. I see this as the responsibility of Christians, the Church and the overall Christian community. However, if I value the idea of liberty and freedom, should I just impose my beliefs on the rest of society through legislation even with the best intentions in mind? As liberals would say, we are not a theocracy.
The church here in America has become decadent. We care about money and political power. We’ve forgotten about the homeless in our towns, the poor striving to get by, and the single mother who we are willing to mandate that she shouldnt have an abortion, but are unwilling help her raise the child when she has it through. We have become willing to maybe throw out a handout here or there, but we refuse to make the time to teach people how to fish instead of giving them a fish.
We’ve refused to bother to help teach people how to raise crops for themselves (hydroponics, aquaponics, local organic farming) so they can eat healthy and not be subjected to the horrid cheap food of today. We’ve refused to take part in helping the single mother raise her kid if she chooses not to raise them as a Christian, depsite what the Bible says about helping the poor. (Note it doesn’t say, help these people if they become Christians or are willing to go to Church, it commands us to help them regardless, because they are who the Kingdom of God is for and the love of God and his commands for us apply to the destitute of society) We dont have time to take in that kid afterschool, help teach him a trade, impart what knowledge of skills we have to him.
From a social standpoint its become worse. As much as I personally consider abortion to be a form of murder, many of conservative christian friends are willing to forsake the idea of liberty and insist that the government has power over your body, whether its to choose to have an abortion or do drugs. While I understand the reasons, I dread the additional power we give to the government for the best of intentions. (Isn’t it possible to discourage abortion without government intervention into the matter? Especially on a communal level?)
We’ve gotten caught up in some “culture” war in which we’ve completely abandoned the idea that the Kingdom is for the “scum” of society. Its for the muslims, the “homosexuals”, the domestic abusers, the rapists, the murders. (I’m not equating homosexuality with that, just saying that we treat homosexuals like the scum of the earth and we forget that the Kingdom is for them as well) Yes we want people to turn from sin, but first they need to know that they are significant, important, and loved because they are made in God’s image.
I’ve seen my fellow Christians say HORRIBLE things about “liberals”, the president, people who disagree with them. I think to myself, “How could you say that?” This is someone made in God’s image. They may be a sinner, but the Love of God specifically applies to them no matter what “sins” they commit or what we think of them. As Christians we’ve become obsessed with material possessions and money. One key failing that we are reeling from is that we’ve abandoned the concepts of freedom and liberty which are concepts I would argue come from the core of Christianity, especially considering we believe that man is fallen and sinful. How exactly can we trust ourselves to not abuse authority especially in the light of history? (Assuming legislation is someones morality enforced on the general public.)
I firmly believe I and many others in the Christian community have to go back to the drawing board. And this is where I believe the government on a small level can play a role. (My libertarian bias is going to show.) Too many parts of our society are convinced that they know whats best for everyone else. California thinks Texas should adopt its educational curriculum and vice versa. We want to insist that we can “legislate” problems away. That however has never worked and never will.
I have enough faith in people to believe that they know how to address the problems that affect them directly. Some of these can be on a national scale (I blame the government.) but many problems can be tackled at the local level by a community, and not through legislation necessarily. In fact legislation should be our last resort, rather than our first.
Many conservatives have dissed the president for being a “community” organizer, but since when did that become a bad thing? It is the communities that solve problems. A community with whatever kind of safety nets they’ve set up know when abuse is happening, know when their neighbor needs help, and their representatives can be spoken to without a campaign donation in the streets, at town meetings, ect.
From a Christian standpoint, our call to help our communities is very important. If all our wealth that we have, every penny is given to us by God, should we not be helping not only our own poor, but the desolate, the homeless, the widows, ect who God has commanded us to? People however have become in love with their money. I guess I am emphasizing a change of heart as being the key to helping communities.
School shootings, suicides, bullying, ect happens because we are not invested enough in helping others and actually caring about them, not just giving them something from the food pantry and pretending we’ve done our penance for the month. If someone in our community has been treated so poorly that they need a specific label to call themselves (Trans, Queer, ect.) to feel comfortable and like they matter, what does that say about us in general? Especially Christians? Everyone is made in the image of God, and regardless of whether they are “sinners” or not, they MATTER. They are important and they are significant in the eyes of God and should be in ours as well.
To often our response to lets say a “homosexual” is, “Hey repent vile sinner, turn from your sin, and stay away from us and our kids!” WHAT? Yes, to repent you must turn from sin, but you matter no less in the eyes of God. To those who I don’t necessarily see eye to eye with, have differing opinions on sin, or even acknowledge it as a concept, my first response should be, “You my friend are loved. You matter. Your life is important and your wellbeing. If you need a place to stay my home is yours. IF you need a job, I will do what I can to give you one. If you need food, I will feed you.” Mathew 25 is very specific as to what Christs commands as our duty to those around us, especially our own fellow Christians. (The urban poor Christians of Chicago?)
However we’ve let “politics” jade us, makes us say horrible things about people dying, who need medical help, shelter, a job, a reason to live. It saddens me to the point of making me want to cry. What can I do? I won’t bother with the government, as I don’t have cash to make campaign contributions. Instead I will go directly to those in need. I will encourage my fellow Christians to embrace our roles to help our communities, both in the resources we have as well as our time. If we can strengthen our communities, and I mean truly strengthen them, the amount of laws and government we need will be minimal and the potential abuses from strong government for good intentions will be reduced.
Alot of my fellow Christians especially liberal ones, are fed up with alot of the problems they see. They have been ignored often by their fellow Christians. They see injustice, whether it be from the police, lack of education, ect. This is where I advocate for a solution that emphasizes the community, specifically the Christian community to rise up and help those who are desperately in need. Their problems should be our problems. They are part of the Church and should be treated as such.
This is why I dont like prohibiting felons from owning firearms to protect themselves and their families, especially with how our justice system is an the amount of minorities that are felons. I truly believe the goverment doesnt care about minorities, only their votes. This may seem facetious and wreak of hubris, but I care about “minorities” and the poor because God says they are important and made in his image and he commands me to help them, not because I will get anything from it or that it will somehow directly benefit me.
No the concept of true Biblical love transcends that, “Scratch my back and I will scratch yours” that has permeated our culture. Yes, we should attempt to make money, to excel in our jobs, to make music which people may end up throwing millions of dollars toward us for and all for His glory. We should however remember that all of our money is given to us by him and what he expect us to do with what he has given to us.
I will be the first to admit that I feel extremely hypocritical after saying all this. I’m selfish. I’m lazy. I want my time and I want it now. I would rather play video games and hang with my friends then really invest the time to help the poor around me. However, I recognize my failings and will strive through the grace of God to utilize his time to the best of my abilities to fulfill his commandments. Heaven may be a ways off, but the ability to create a “Shire” here, a little peace of earthly home for us and everyone around us should never be forgotten.
My friends and fellow human beings made in the image of God, you are loved.