I saw this posted on facebook the other day and it really flew all over me. Welfare is based on Christian values? Really? Being forced to provide for the needs of others is love? Stealing (yes, I used the word STEALING) from the so-called rich in order to give to the so-called poor is somehow considered charitable??? I’m not sure what values you’re referring to, Mr. Carter, but they’re certainly not Christian.
The church (and by “church” I mean “body of believers” not a church-building) has given the responsibility of caring for the poor over to the government. And the fact that the poor aren’t loved and are looked down on in our country (especially if they indulge in something that the rich feel is a “privilege”) should come as no surprise.
Love involves a choice, which we do not have in this matter. It also involves a relationship, which we certainly don’t have. Want to know why so many Americans – even Christian Americans – are angry and fed up any time they see a welfare recipient using an iPhone? It’s because we’ve abdicated the responsibility of caring for those in need to government programs based on numbers and statistics rather than love and compassion. There isn’t a person in the world who – acting in love – wouldn’t want to see people they love being blessed, even with “unnecessary” blessings… iPhones, nice clothes, trips to Disney Land! But that’s the problem… we aren’t given the choice and we aren’t acting in love.
Let me give you some examples…
Example 1: A dear friend of yours is having a baby and you know she doesn’t have the money for supplies (diapers, clothes, blankets, etc.) Your budget is stretched extremely thin, but little by little you start purchasing things for the baby, sometimes going without a little luxury or eating bread and beans for dinner a few nights more than you otherwise would. You don’t just buy supplies for the baby, you scrimp and save and purchase really nice things for the baby, because you love your friend and you’re really excited for her, and her new baby. Are you happy with the sacrifices that you made, in order to give your friend such beautiful gifts? More importantly, are you acting in love? Has your relationship with your friend been strengthened? Does she feel loved? Do you?
Example 2: The mayor of your town has just announced that he’s starting a mandatory “giving” program for all of the town citizens. Anyone who makes above a certain amount of income (no matter how many family members they have to support) is going to have to start giving a certain percentage of that income, and it’s going to be given to members of your town who make below the designated amount. Every month, collectors come to your door and demand your payment. As time goes on, you start to notice something funny. Because of this program, your family is eating bread and beans and you recently had to cancel your internet service, while the recipients of the money that has been taken from you are going out to nice restaurants and recently bought a large-screen TV. Are you happy with the sacrifices that have been forced upon you, so that people several miles from you, whom you’ve only met in passing, can have such nice things? Have you acted in love? Do you have a better relationship with this family? Do they feel loved? Do you?
Tax dollars are stolen from the so-called rich and given to the so-called poor, and Christians who once took care of their neighbors now rely on the government or other “charitable organizations” to do it for them. I see Christians giving to organizations all the time (tithing to their churches, sending money and donations overseas, etc.) but you know what I see very little of? I see very few Christians helping out a neighbor who just lost his job, or buying groceries for the single mother down the street.
And it’s not just the giving that has suffered… we have also forgotten how to receive. I know of people who accept government assistance but struggle with feelings of shame when receiving help from friends. I know of Christians who don’t have any problems taking out bank loans or using credit cards, but refuse to borrow money from the people who love them most (Jon and I, included.) We often have difficult time not feeling guilty when someone does step up to help us, either financially or physically, and I know we’re not the only ones. This is the crazy, backward society we’ve created for ourselves.
So I’m sorry, Mr. Carter, but using my tax dollars to help the poor is not a part of my family’s “Christian Values.” Freely giving to those around us who are in need, however, is. And we’ll do this even as our government steals from us in order to “help” those nameless, faceless people that the Church has given up their commission to love.
Mr. Carter got one thing right, though. We don’t want a country based on Christian values. We don’t want to be responsible for anything. We want to government to take responsibility for the poor, we want the government to take responsibility for our food, and we want the government to take responsibility for our healthcare. This is America.
I’ve given a lot of thought here to adding a disclaimer here saying that I’m not against government assistance, but the more I think of it, the more I realize that simply isn’t true. I am against government assistance – passionately so – but until Christians start stepping up to the plate and loving their neighbors… until we all get a little better at asking for and receiving help from the people around us… I don’t have a good wide-spread solution to the problem.
But I do have a solution for each of us, individually. We can stop acting as if it’s the government’s job to take care of the poor. We can stop giving to the churches we’re not even active members of (and those who are using the tithe to purchase new sound systems and better projection screens) and stop giving to charitable organizations whose recipients are nameless and faceless. Instead, we can give to the family whose child just got out of the hospital (they very likely won’t be able to afford their medical bills otherwise, thanks to obamacare.) We can give to the family whose husband just lost his job, or whose children rely on child support that just never comes. We can go without a few little luxuries and find someone who could be blessed by the very same luxuries we’re giving up. We can love the people around us and not rely on the government to support our neighbors. They’re doing a pretty bad job of it. We can do better.
Let Him Give, Not Grudgingly or of Necessity … “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare”…
Daily Bread … “There is a great temptation for a brother whose earnings are small, to put off the responsibility of assisting the needy and sick saints, or helping on the work of God, and to lay it upon the few rich brethren and sisters with whom he is associated in fellowship, and this rob his own soul!”