Rarely do I ever step into the political arena. I’d rather step in a pile of fresh dog poo and track in on carpet, to be honest. But I’m going to tread around the edges of it for a minute, except I don’t see it as much a political thing as a religious thing. However, due to the genesis of this idea, it could, I suppose, also be political.
You see, there are some serious federal budget cuts being proposed. Domestic things that have a lot of people riled up. I get that, as I’m not happy about it either. Of course, the stuff he’s proposed (“Proposed” being the key word here) would have to pass through Congress to become reality. It would seem that our Esteemed President is unaccustomed to having to get approval on his decisions. I eagerly await the Twit-fest that is sure to happen when his desires are denied. I picture something along the lines of that girl I met at Agnes Scott College who was fuming about getting the wrong color of Porche 911 for her high school graduation gift. (Yes. That actually happened. I was, at the time, driving a 1970 Toyota Corolla, and proud to have it. I was also stunned speechless briefly, until I started mocking her, which is probably why I wasn’t invited to the Thing at the Thing and had to go to the astronomy building instead) Anyway, I await with great interest over the budget hearings.
But that is not the point here. What I am meaning to discuss (is it a discussion if it’s one-sided? Maybe something will happen in the comments) is the idea of charity and personal responsibility. (let me also lead with the notion that I am talking to myself as well as the rest of everyone else because I am also guilty.) Ok, I’ve made it clear before that I’m fond of referring to the Bible about matters of behavior and belief. It works for me. Having a solid guidebook for my life is handy and priceless and a huge relief because it means I’m not floundering around wondering who what and why all the time.
In this country we have come to rely on the government to cover the bases where people’s needs are concerned. Mostly I’m ok with that. I don’t have issues with stuff like providing health care and making sure people are fed and have a roof over their heads. I recognize that these things can lead to abuse of the system and dependency on it, but I am not opposed to the abuse if it means children, disabled, and old folks have what they need to live. Anyway, apparently our Esteemed Leader (I almost called him El Presidente but I think his position on the Hispanic Situation is clear and he might call me out on Twitter) is wanting to cut funding to all sorts of domestic programs. I’m not sure what I’m thinking about that…but that isn’t my point (believe it or not) Here’s the point:
Let’s say the cuts happen. Or they don’t. Either way the mandate of our (supposedly) Christian Nation (I’m calling it what the people who are so opposed to Non-Christians sullying out borders like to call it) is to take care of the poor and foreigners. See here:
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. 19:17
He who gives to the poor will never want, But he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. 28:27
Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. 21:13
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. 11:25
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. 31:8-9 (I take this to mean things like WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN! Get out there and DO SOMETHING!)
Also, Jesus Christ Himself had a LOT to say about taking care of poor and needy folks:
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. Luke 12:33
Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. Matthew 5:42
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (See, here, He didn’t make this stuff up out of the blue…it’s in the Old Testament too. He was consistent like that. Read the next one.)
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ Deuteronomy 15:7-11 (emphasis mine)
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18 (Hey! Isn’t that The Golden Rule? Sort of?)
This is is tiny bit of what God says is our mandate (as a Christian Nation, according to those who forgot to read the first amendment that says something like ” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;) (actually that’s exactly that it says) toward the poor and needy. So, if we, as a Christian Nation, are not going to use governmental channels to care for the poor and needy then it is (and here’s my point, FINALLY) the RESPONSIBILITY for individuals and private organizations to pick up the ball for caring for people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m on a soapbox, yes, but am by no means a shining example of personal charity. Reading this stuff is embarrassing and convicting. I feel like a real wiener.
And you think “well, I don’t have much to spare.” Ok I get that. Jesus had something to say about that as well. “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Luke 3:11 and And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God,but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” luke 21:1-4.
I’m also pretty sure it’s nobody but God’s business what and how you give, so I’m not asking you to shout it out HEY LOOK WHAT I’M DOING AREN’T I WONDERFUL
Take care not to do your good works before men, to be seen by them; or you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. When then you give money to the poor, do not make a noise about it, as the false-hearted men do in the Synagogues and in the streets, so that they may have glory from men. Truly, I say to you, They have their reward. But when you give money, let not your left hand see what your right hand does: So that your giving may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will give you your reward. Matthew 6:1-4
(Here’s what Matthew Henry has to say about THAT: “Our Lord next warned against hypocrisy and outward show in religious duties. What we do, must be done from an inward principle, that we may be approved of God, not that we may be praised of men. In these verses we are cautioned against hypocrisy in giving alms. Take heed of it. It is a subtle sin; and vain-glory creeps into what we do, before we are aware. But the duty is not the less necessary and excellent for being abused by hypocrites to serve their pride. The doom Christ passes, at first may seem a promise, but it is their reward; not the reward God promises to those who do good, but the reward hypocrites promise themselves, and a poor reward it is; they did it to be seen of men, and they are seen of men. When we take least notice of our good deeds ourselves, God takes most notice of them. He will reward thee; not as a master who gives his servant what he earns, and no more, but as a Father who gives abundantly to his son that serves him.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.)
My point it, if our Federal Government in all it’s apparent Wizdom sees fit to quit with the stuff that feeds, shelters, and cares for the folk in this country who need it, then the people of this country are obligated, mandated, and required by the God Whom they claim to worship to take care of those people. regardless of who they are. I haven’t seen anywhere in all the stuff I’ve found in that Bible (which the people of this Christian Nation claim as the Word of God and inerrant) that the people being helped have to fulfill a set of requirements (beyond NEED) before being eligible for the help. No hoops, no “sign here first and after you attend 6 services and go through 6 weeks of counseling”, no “prove you aren’t (whatever).” It’s more along the lines of “Oh my, you look like you need help. May I help you?”. Are we meant to help only those people who look like us, or who don’t smell funny, or who are certain to be sure to show us the appreciation we so deserve for sacrificing (whatever) in order to help them? I know I like appreciation as much as the next one, but that’s not why we are supposed to do it. (Refer back to Matthew 6:1-4)
When huge numbers are thrown out there, it is overwhelming and seems insurmountable. But break it down by community, and it’s not so hard. Add the numbers up by organization, and the ability is there. Remember the story of Stone Soup? There’s a starving community, and a stranger comes in and starts a pot of hot water with a rock in it, in the town square. Then he says something along the lines of “Hm, this needs a carrot.” and someone shows up with a couple. Then “All it needs is a turnip/potato/some herbs/a marrow bone” and gradually each household contributes it’s tiny portion until there’s a huge pot of delicious stew, enough for everyone. Relying on the government to manage the stew and require contributions would mean people thinking “oh no, not my carrot/marrow bone.” But knowing the stew is actually going to feed people, instead of disappearing into a Governmental Void, tends, I think, to encourage the giving. Also assuming the help will come out of the Governmental Void, and relying on (whoever they are) instead of considering it a personal mandate, means saying “oh, someone else will take care of it, I don’t need to” and nothing real gets done because the Governmental Void is a proverbial black hole.
Am I making any sense here? In a nutshell, our country has the resources and ability to care for everyone in it, without sitting on our hands expecting The Gummint to do it for us.
So sayeth Rootie.