Welfare Is Theft, Not Charity
John Kasich once said that when he got to the pearly gates Peter probably wouldn’t ask if he made government smaller. Instead, he thinks Peter would ask if he performed the noble deed of expanding the government, by increasing the welfare state and its dependents.
This understanding of Jesus’ teaching is absurd. Governments with too much power and control over their citizens have killed tens of millions of people just in the last century. It’s not unreasonable to assume Peter, and Jesus, might believe it a noble cause to reduce the power and influence of government.
Also, I think it’s pretty clear that Peter will not be interested in how many welfare programs John Kasich supported. The bible contains zero evidence that Jesus would support an involuntary, government run, inefficient “charity.”
Paul Said, If You’re Not Willing to Work, You Don’t Get To Eat
The apostle Paul speaks of grace over, and over, and over in his writings to Philemon, the Ephesians, the Corinthians, the Thessalonians, etc. But even Paul said not to allow leeches to feed off your charitable deeds. He preached that giving to the lazy, at the expense of the community at large, was irrational and possibly sinful.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, Paul explains the example he set by refusing to “eat anyone’s bread without paying for it,” and he “with toil and labor…worked night and day, that [he] might not be a burden to any of [the Thessalonians].” He went on to make an even more serious claim. He wrote, “for even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
“This command” directly conflicts with handing out money or goods via a government program that cannot accurately account for ones work ethic, or lack thereof. It shows that it is not immoral to allow people to starve if they won’t make an effort to feed themselves. In fact, Paul even says of those not willing to do their part in the community, “do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed.”
Yes. Those taking monetary, nutritional, housing, etc. donations should feel “ashamed,” if they’re not doing what they can to help themselves and, or, their community.
It Seems Jesus May Have Agreed that Welfare Is Theft, Not Charity
Jesus never demanded that His followers give in the face of earthly consequences, nor to gain earthly rewards. He said to only give out of love, knowing their deeds would be seen by the Almighty. This theme was repeated in some of the apostles’ letters, as well. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he wrote, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Welfare is fed by taxes. If someone doesn’t wish to participate in welfare, they would have to stop paying a certain percentage of their taxes. So, what happens if someone doesn’t pay a portion of their taxes? Government officials will use guns, and the threat of severe violence, to put that man in prison. That sounds a lot less like Jesus’ definition of charity, and a little more like theft.
Jesus doesn’t ask us to advocate for, nor does he say we will be rewarded for, a system in which the masses vote to steal from those they deem to have plenty and give it to those they see as needy. The only giving of which Jesus commanded was the giving of our own money and belongings. More specifically, He commanded that we give what we have been convicted to give through our conscience and the Holy Spirit, not what is believed by others to be our “fair share.”
I think it’s fair to say, Jesus would find taxing a segment of the population in order to give to the needy to be theft. Well-meaning theft? Maybe. But more likely, it’s theft done in order to avoid having to deal with the poor and downtrodden ourselves.
Government Welfare Tempts People Into Idleness and Dependency
Jesus took tempting others, by creating an environment in which they are like to fall to a sin, very seriously. In Luke 17:1-2, Jesus says, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”
Encouraging the growth of the welfare state, is like leaving a stack of Corona’s on the dining table of a newly recovering alcoholic, and then leaving him alone for the weekend. It’s likely not going to end with him conquering his addiction. Temptation towards idleness is similar.
Everyone, some more than others, are tempted to be idle. Government welfare actively increases this temptation, especially for those who struggle with idleness. It creates an environment ripe with government dependence, without any personal accountability to one’s friends, neighbors, or brothers in Christ. A welfare recipient that is idle knows the checks will keep coming, regardless of whether or not they are lazy. They know the system can be easily played.
With that in mind, it’s clear that government welfare system is not a healthy way to go about charity. It is not an efficient method by which to help the poor, while still maintaining accountability and avoiding dependency.
As Christians, we are called to be generous and giving. Jesus was quoted throughout the gospels saying Christians are to help feed the poor (Matthew 25:34-46, Luke 12:33-34, Matthew 5:42). This is translated by many liberal Christians as a reason to support the theft that is the welfare state. They attempt to make the teachings of Christ fit their socialist or progressive ideology. Many conservatives fall into this trap, as well. They too believe, like John Kasich, they’re doing a charitable Christian deed by helping a select group of downtrodden individuals via government coercion.
In reality, Christ commanded charity and government welfare are polar opposites.
Christ centered charity is about helping those in need, but not encouraging leeches to take advantage of the community at large. It’s about being generous with your own money, but not involuntarily taking someone else’s. It’s about being sure your brothers and sisters have their needs met, while not encouraging them to become idle or lazy.
Government welfare is inherently inefficient, ineffective, and easily corruptible. It is the ultimate example of a system susceptible to leeches, making no attempt to positively contribute to the community. Advocating for the government to collect welfare, under the threat of imprisonment, is most accurately described as self-righteous theft, not charity.