When we finished Part 3 of this series, The Balance Between Good and Evil, I found myself unsatisfied with the result. I did not know how to proceed. I just knew that what I had written was incomplete. Part 1, Money and Politics, had addressed the lifeblood of politics. Part 2, An Absence of Charity, had demonstrated an alternative model. However, I had not tied the package together. In this post, we will make that effort.
The Burden of Consequences
To a large extent, comments drive this blog. I read them and wonder how to respond. Tony’s and Mo Johnson’s comments at this post, An Absence of Charity, left me wondering. Why could they not see the problems with government-run charity? Why did they refuse to equate government-run charity with stealing? The problem, I suspect is one of PHILOSOPHICAL CONFUSION OVER ENDS AND MEANS. Even though we addressed the morality of the issue in The Balance Between Good and Evil, we did not specifically discuss the relationship between the means and the consequences (that is, the means and the end).
Why Did Israel Want A King?
In 1 Samuel 8, the People demanded that Samuel appoint a king to rule over them. So Samuel prayed to the Lord. Then Samuel told the People what the Lord had told him. Still the People wanted a king. Why? Well, here is what they said.
1 Samuel 8:19-20 Good News Translation (GNT)
The people paid no attention to Samuel, but said, “No! We want a king, so that we will be like other nations, with our own king to rule us and to lead us out to war and to fight our battles.”
Didn’t the people of Israel know what a king does? Since other nations had kings, of course they did. And what does a king do? He makes everyone one do the “right thing”; he serves as the chief busybody. He punishes anyone who does not obey the will of the people. Thus, for the sake of making certain “other people” do the right thing, the People of Israel surrendered their freedom to an idol, the power they had invested in a king.
Tony and Mo Johnson, those commenters I mentioned earlier, insist that only government can guarantee that the poor and downtrodden will receive the compassion of charity, that private charity cannot work. Are they right? Is the possibility that private charity might produce better results a fantasy?
Of course, we are all familiar with the reaction of the poor and downtrodden to government charity. The poor and downtrodden are grateful to the compassionate bureaucrats that live only to serve. The poor and downtrodden love the taxpayers who are so generous with their dollars. Right?
Thanks to government-run health, education, and welfare programs, don’t we have daily visions of healthy, active, well-educated children raised almost exclusively in stable homes? Haven’t our elderly planned carefully to finance their own retirements? Don’t only a few unlucky souls depend upon government handouts in the latter years. Haven’t our nation’s generously funded social institutions contributed enormously to our nation’s military, economic, and cultural leadership? Isn’t America the world’s model of social decorum, the place where all learn at an early age what it means to be virtuous citizens highly involved in every aspect of their government?
Yes! As America’s welfare state positively demonstrates, positive virtues flow down from the Olympic peaks of Washington D.C. The politicians we elect know best what is good for each and every one our 300 million people, NOT!
So what is the fantasy? What does government-run charity produce? What has history demonstrated? What has election after election demonstrated? Government-run “charity” buys votes, our votes.
Guilt and Charity
Curiously, when those ignorant of Christianity say Christianity is a religion based upon guilt they are right. What Christianity does, however, is the opposite of what the ignorant think. Because of Christian teachings we do learn about sin. Thus, we understand why we have reason to be guilty. However, Christianity also teaches how we receive forgiveness for our sins. As Jesus explained just before his crucifixion, as His disciples we have peace.
John 16:31-33 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
Jesus replied to them, “Now you believe. The time is coming, and is already here, when all of you will be scattered. Each of you will go your own way and leave me all alone. Yet, I’m not all alone, because the Father is with me. I’ve told you this so that my peace will be with you. In the world you’ll have trouble. But cheer up! I have overcome the world.”
With His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus expiated our sins. With His sacrifice, His disciples learned of God’s love for each of them. We need only repent and have faith that His sacrifice will save us. And how do we know our faith is complete? Because we love Him, we obey His commands. We do good works in His name.
James 2:14-17 (English Standard Version)
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Thus, Christians have a powerful motivation to be charitable and little reason to be busybodies.
Here is where we sum up.
If our rights are God-given rights, then these are rights tyrants can only take away. Government can only protect rights provided by God. If our rights are government-given, then these are rights that our fellow men must be coerced to provide. If we can be coerced to serve another, then we are slaves to that person. We have no rights, and government has given us nothing. Instead, we steal each other’s rights.
Because wisdom is an elusive (See ELUSIVE WISDOM.) quality, each of us is only human, subject to error. So in spite of my faith, I must admit I will die before I am wholly certain Jesus is God. Nonetheless, whether God is Mohammedan, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist,…., or does not exist at all, I know for certain this. Whatever rights I receive from the hand of another man do not belong to me. Those rights belong to the one who holds the power to give me those rights.