Friday, March 4, 2011

On Biblical Conservatism: It's Not the Government's Job to Care for the Poor!

I've been wanting to write on this particular issue for quite some time, but the news recently in Wisconsin, our President's disregard for the Constitution, and a huge Presidential Election on the horizon has taken up most of my time.  So while there is FINALLY  a moment to bring up this fundamental issue of Biblical Conservatism:

In 2010, Republicans were swept into office in the House of Representatives, in Governors mansions across the fruited plain, and into state legislatures by a wave of voters who want the government to spend less and live within their means. Predictably, Liberals everywhere, lead by the Democratic Party, are doing their best to convince America that the Republican fiscal policies (cutting almost 1% of the Federal budget) are draconian, that they are going to force people to starve, to make Grandma eat dog food, etc. 

Beyond the demagoguery, many real, legitimate discussions have propped up between people like myself and other patriotic Americans on the Left regarding what specifically is okay to cut out of the budget, and what must be left as a legitimate role of government to provide a safety net for those who need it.  One such friend recently asked me my thoughts on the controversial "What would Jesus cut?" ads which Liberal groups have begun running.  My answer was simple:  It is not the government who Jesus wants taking care of the poor!

Before I delve into this situation, I think it is pertinent that I take this opportunity to deal with a major fallacy that far too many liberals seem to have about conservatives.  Conservatives care tremendously about the poor.  We are not a crowd of Ebeneezer Scrooges who want the poor to hurry up and die to decrease the surplus population.  Rather, we want to see the poor helped through their difficulties in a way that a) takes care of their needs but also b) provides them with the ability not to be comfortable in poverty but rather to be able to pull themselves OUT of poverty!

The problem conservatives have with the current government entitlement spending is not limited only to a lack of funds, which, for the record, is a legitimate concern, but rather with the method of that spending.   Setting aside the fact that the safety net has become a hammock, there is gross inefficiencies within that government spending. Federal entitlements spend approximately $.35 on every $1 on actual care for the needy, with about $.65 on every $1 going to bureaucracy.  Compare this to private charities.  National groups like the Salvation Army and the Rescue Mission spend approximately $.85 on every $1 on actual care for the needy.  Groups lead by other Christian denominations spend as much as $.95 on every $1 on actual care for the needy.  The difference is staggering in the quality of care that private charities can give over the government.

But there is a far deeper issue which goes into the Word of God itself, into the Holy Bible.  Would somebody please show me the "give your money to the government and have them care for the poor" verses?  What's that?  They aren't there?  The truth is the Bible requires Christians to take care of the poor, not the government! Jesus Christ did tell us to give a tithe (for those of you from Palm Beach County, FL that's 10%) to the church which spiritually feeds us and to also give alms (Palm Beach Countiers, that's "offerings" or "free gifts") to the poor. That is the job of the Church of Jesus Christ!  We give freely to care for those who are in need.

There are practical advantages to this as well.  Remember the data I quoted above (private charities giving around $.85 - .95 on the $1 to the poor while government gives only $.35 on the $1)?  Do you know WHY that is the case?  Simple.  Government is spending money taken from taxpayers out of compulsion.  They have to put up barriers to try to prevent fraud.  (They're doing a horrible job of it, too.)  Christian charities are spending money given freely out of love for God and out of thankfulness for what He has given us.  We are making a financial investment into the Kingdom of God when we give tithes and offerings.  We then trust in Jesus Christ to ensure that the money is spent to help those in need. These organizations also use volunteers to a large extent, which lowers the overhead.

So when someone asks Christian Conservatives "What would Jesus cut?" you're actually asking the wrong question.  The real question I believe Jesus is asking is:  Why is government doing this at all?  Where are my followers?  Why aren't they all doing their job?  To the Christians out there, I pray that you are in a tithe covenant with God and giving to a church which is using part of those tithes for benevolence. We have been commanded by the Word of God to do so:

For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers, you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them.

"Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. But you said, "In what way shall we return?"  Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say," In what way have we robbed You?  In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. 

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. And try Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, or shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field. - Malachi 3:6-12 (1)

We as Christians have a responsibility.  God has stated unequivocally that HE DOES NOT CHANGE.  What he required from us before, he requires from us now.  It is contingent upon us to take care of those in need, not the Government!

Now, you Liberal politicians, you're not getting a pass. You're the ones who have made the problem far worse by turning a safety net into a hammock, and for the purpose of getting yourself elected!  Let's be honest with ourselves: If the Democrat party wanted to help people long term they wouldn't be trying to make them comfortable in poverty.  Helping to bring people OUT of poverty ought to be the goal while ensuring they are able to survive until that poverty passes. The moment you make poverty comfortable and easy, people are less likely to leave it. 

Let me give you an example: EBT (Electronic Benefit Transaction) Cards replacing the traditional food stamps.  The primary reason of this is to remove the stigma of using food stamps.  Sounds nice, right?  Only if the only concern in your head is individual comfort in the moment!  Societally speaking, there SHOULD be some level of stigma in buying your food with food stamps...with other people's money, in reality. There should be pride-based incentive to NOT be using those food stamps as soon as possible.  Nor does it end there.

How about the fact that, here in New York State, the food stamps program ADVERTISES on top rated radio stations.  Ignoring the fact that the state is actually scratching a check for radio spots that start in the neighborhood of $70-250 per prime time spot. (2)  We have the government of the state of New York INFORMING PEOPLE that, even though they may believe they don't need food stamps because they are making ends meet, they might qualify anyway! 

Think about it. People who have budgets in place where they are paying all their bills and purchasing their own food are now being told they should apply for food stamps, ostensibly putting people who do not need it on the public dole so they can spend the money they were spending on food on non-necessities.  Ain't that wonderful?  Then we have more people feeling like the wonderful Democratic party is taking care of them, who will continue to vote themselves benefits rather than pay their own way. It's entitlements for votes.

Yet this problem is not the greatest issue I have with the Democrat party in the entitlement world.  The biggest problem I have is that these programs have begun to replace God with Government.  Think about it.  For centuries, people relied on the Church for their needs and relied on God. Now the Democrat Party is telling people, "You don't need God.  You don't need the Church. You can rely on us."  Where, in the past, people were turning toward the Church in times of financial need and receiving not only provision for their physical needs but also the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they are now turning to the Government for free money.  These people are being lead to a false idol to care for them, Government.

My friends, people's souls are on the line. People who are not having the opportunity in their times of need to have their needs met by God and to receive the Gospel and the opportunity to accept Jesus as their Savior.  A large portion of the problem we are in today is the fact that to far too many people, Government is their god.  Meanwhile the rest of us are paying through the nose in taxes so the Democrats can continue to buy votes with entitlements and replace God with Government.

What would Jesus cut?  Most of it.  I believe Jesus would tell us that He wants His Church to be taking care of the poor, not us paying the government to do it so the Government can replace Him.  To the Church, the message is do your job.  Tithe.  Give offerings.  YOU give them something to eat instead of the government.  Government should cut all but the safety net.  To the Democrat Party, stop usurping Christ, and let the Church be the church! 

 Note: All Scriptures taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
   Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

(1) Malachi 3:6-12 (New King James Version) - Emphasis Added

(2) I work for a large national radio conglomerate . I speak a place of knowledge.  Due to my company's social media policy, I cannot speak beyond I ask you trust me!

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