We have had it up to here with the conservative Christian argument that "It's not the government's job to help the needy."
Yes it is. It's everyone's job, individuals, churches, businesses, and governments. Christ's commands are universal. We lefties get that. Conservatives don't. We know every instruction in the Bible about the poor is directed at every individual AND every human institution, including governments. Conservatives refuse to accept this.
Conservative Christians try to justify cutting off government assistance to the poor with this argument all the time and they're just wrong.
So here's what we're going to do. We're going to establish a repository of scripture that contradicts their claim.
Keep in mind, general scriptures about helping the poor don't work with conservatives. Unless they are faced with indisputable evidence they will always divert back to this memorized response: "That doesn't say anything about governments. It's speaking to individuals!" Their hearts have succumb to Objectivsm, which is the true "gospel" of The "Christian" Right.
Here's what we have so far:
"At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do." -- Deuteronomy 14:28-29
"You shall not pervert justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow's garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord you God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back and get it. It shall be for the fatherless and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again, It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this." -- Deuteronomy 24:17-24
“Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed [poor], that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” -- Daniel 4:27
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.” -- Malachi 3:5 ESV
“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.” -- Isaiah 10:1-2
“They have grown fat and sleek. They know no limits in deeds of wickedness; they do not judge with justice the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. Shall I not punish them for these things?” -- Jeremiah 5:28-29
This is what the Lord says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: 2 ‘Hear the word of the Lord to you, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. 3 This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’” --
Jeremiah 22: 1-6
“‘Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and the needy; then it was well. Is that not what it means to know Me?’ declares the Lord.” -- Jeremiah 22:15-16
“A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.” -- Proverbs 28:3
“The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people: It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses.” -- Isaiah 3:13-14
“The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.” -- Psalm 9:17-18
“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” -- Ezekiel 16:49
1 Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. 2 May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. 3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. 4 May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor. … 11 May all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him. 12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. 13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. 14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 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. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “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. 35 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, 36 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.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “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.’
41 “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. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 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.’
44 “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?’
45 “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.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
We've been on the front lines of the struggle to take back the definition of our faith from what we classify as a cult since 2009. Right-wing ideology mixed with the Christian faith is misguided and toxic. Whether its adherents realize it or not, they are practicing Objectivism. Their ideology is no different from the 'law of the jungle,' where the strongest and smartest get their needs met, and the poorest, the weakest, and the sickest get what they deserve, which is nothing. On top of that they target and abuse groups that were already oppressed to begin with.
They have all kinds of rationalizations to avoid cognitive dissonance. One of the favorite is, "It's not the government's job to take care of these people. That's the job of the church." The Bible doesn't support this notion in any way. In fact scripture is full of instances where God became very angry when leaders, nations, and citizens ignored their responsibility.
"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy." Ezekiel 16:49
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About TCL Blog
We’re not about Dogma here. We’re just Christians who think the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong.
Charles Toy is the founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit. Guest bloggers featured often.