WITH A BIG ELECTION around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about people who need help.
I’ve also been comparing notes with my Christian friends about how best to help those needy folks. People such as:
- The sick who can’t afford healthcare or health insurance
- Young adults who can’t afford college
- Homeless and hungry people, many of whom are mentally ill, and nearly all of whom want a home of their own.
Some of my Christian friends argue—loudly—that charity begins at home, and that we should each do our part to help the needy around us.
But these friends of mine say they don’t want the government setting up programs to help these needy people.
One of my Christian friends said programs like that amount to using the government to steal people’s property and redistribute it to others.
He said poverty is most effectively addressed when individuals are asked to take care of their own families, friends, and neighbors—not demanding that a guy in Ohio pay for a guy’s healthcare in Oregon.
Maybe we should ask the needy how that’s working out for them.
A few questions come to mind.
Is it using the government to steal when we tax people to:
- Build and maintain interstate highways that some people don’t use at all?
- Build and maintain schools when some folks don’t have kids?
- Field a worldwide military that fights in wars that many taxpayers don’t approve of?
A set of follow-up questions might be that if these taxes are OK, then are we admitting that:
- Roads are more important than sick people
- A college education is a luxury
- Killing enemies abroad is more important than feeding and housing citizens at home.
The arguments I hear in opposition to setting up nationwide systems to help the helpless seem to boil down to money and a lack of confidence in the representatives we elect.
Yet from the friends I have abroad, I know that many other nations provide excellent and free healthcare, a free college education, along with food and housing for people who can’t work. Which, many argue, is why the US of A has dropped way down the international list when it comes to healthcare, education, and quality of life.
Why can’t we amp up the compassion?
And why aren’t Christians doing a more compelling job of leading the charge instead of lobbying against it? We’ve got the commission:
“Love the Lord your God….Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31, New Living Translation).
From the Bible’s point of view, what’s the argument against a majority of the people in a nation deciding on its own to help its helpless people?
I’m not looking for the money point of view. I hear that a lot. But I’m not hearing much of an argument from a biblical point of view. And I’d like very much to hear that.
I’m really quite curious about it.