GOVERNMENT-RUN CHARITY?

When we consider the subject of charity, we should begin by considering the origin of the word charity.  

charity

1137, “benevolence for the poor,” from O.Fr. charite, from L. caritas (acc. caritatem) “costliness, esteem, affection” (in Vulgate often used as translation of Gk. agape “love” — especially Christian love of fellow man — perhaps to avoid the sexual suggestion of L. amor), from carus “dear, valued,” from PIE *karo-, from base *ka- “to like, desire” (see whore). Vulgate also sometimes translated agape by L. dilectio, n. of action from diligere “to esteem highly, to love.”  

“Wyclif and the Rhemish version regularly rendered the Vulgate dilectio by ‘love,’ caritas by ‘charity.’ But the 16th c. Eng. versions from Tindale to 1611, while rendering agape sometimes ‘love,’ sometimes ‘charity,’ did not follow the dilectio and caritas of the Vulgate, but used ‘love’ more often (about 86 times), confining ‘charity’ to 26 passages in the Pauline and certain of the Catholic Epistles (not in I John), and the Apocalypse …. In the Revised Version 1881, ‘love’ has been substituted in all these instances, so that it now stands as the uniform rendering of agape.” [OED]   

As the Online Etymology Dictionary indicates, charity requires love for one’s fellow man. In practice, the success of charity depends upon love. Unless those who control the money we spend on charity care for the weak, the poor, the orphaned, the old, and the sick; they will not spend that money for the benefit of the poor. Inevitably they will seek to use that money for their own benefit. 

What kind of love does charity require? Consider again what we learned from the Online Etymology Dictionary. The word charity owes its origins to Christianity. Jesus taught that God is love, agape love. He commanded His disciples to love each other as He had loved them.

John 15:9-13 (Today’s New International Version)

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Imagine laying down one’s life for his friends. Fortunately, very few will have the opportunity to take a bullet for another. So how can we demonstrate Christian love for each other? To illustrate, Jesus told this parable.

Matthew 25:31-46 (Today’s New International Version)

The Sheep and the Goats

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Does government-run charity have the virtues of the sheep or the goats? Is government-run charity about love for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, and the imprisoned; or is it about the prosperity of the people who run government-run charity programs?  

Should we expect those who govern us to love us as Jesus loved us? What would be the basis for that belief? Can anyone point to any time in history when those who governed loved the people they governed more than they loved themselves? Perhaps, but how long did this period last?

To love as God loves is a religious act. Agape love is religious act.  Thus, charity is a religious act.

To love as Jesus loved begins with faith in Jesus. When we have faith in Jesus, we obey His commands, and we do good deeds that demonstrate our faith (see James 2:14-26). To entrust charity to government is to make an idol of government. To give charity over to government is to insist that government bureaucracies can love us. Yet just as a wooden, stone, or bejeweled metal idol can accomplish nothing, neither can anything useful be done by an idolized government.

As it is, there is nothing in our Constitution that empowers the Federal Government to provide charity or to run welfare programs of any kind. Federal Government charity only corrupts our Constitution. Even if government-run charity could work, what is the point of corrupting our Constitution? The answer, unfortunately, is the pride of power.

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