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Church, Culture, God, Government, Life

Jesus the statist?

statism

So it’s become relatively fashionable for, what I’m sure are well meaning, liberals to make the claim that Jesus would be for higher taxes to help the poor, or that they are for higher taxes to the poor due to their faith. I will admit, the first time I heard it the idea does have the appearance of truth. Jesus was for helping the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and all that kind of thing. You can see how it has the veneer of truth. But I think that this misunderstanding comes from a general misunderstanding of what Jesus came for in the first place.
Most people, Christian or not, know that the Christian message says Jesus came to pay the penalty for sin. Jesus took our punishment so that we can have His life. This is very true but it’s incomplete. The second part of what His sacrifice did is make it possible for us, through His Spirit to be transformed in our lives and character (2 Cor 3:18, Rom 12:2, Gal 2:20, 1 John 3:2-3, Matt 5:16 I could list more, but you get the point). Having the government do the helping doesn’t fit this for three reasons.
First, if it’s the government helping, it doesn’t glorify God, it glorifies the state. Particularly in our society where there is a separation between church and state, the state does not seek to glorify God. So when Jesus says, “Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” it can’t be applied to our state.
Secondly, it is not charity on your part to have the government force others to help the poor. This is an important point. You can’t be generous by giving away other people’s money. That’s what raising taxes is. Especially when people rant that the wealthy need to pay “their fair share.” That’s not generosity that’s entitlement. Even when wealthier people say things like that, it’s disingenuous. Anyone can give more money on their taxes. There’s a place on the tax forms to do that. If they’re not doing that, they aren’t really for themselves paying more, not really anyway. They want others to pay more.
Thirdly, part of the reason we are told to help other people is because it changes you. If you give your money to the government and let it go at that, it does nothing to improve you. You might feel a bit more self-satisfied that you are doing your part but that’s not the transformation you’re supposed to have. When you actually help people, I mean look them in the eye as you give them food or a blanket, you can’t help but be changed by the experience. The empathy, the desire to help grows; it makes you more like Christ. You don’t get that if the act of helping people turns into just paying your taxes or even just paying tithe at church. You don’t grow as a person. That’s why government helping is not what Jesus was talking about. Of course the flip side to that is, if you’re doing the actual hands on helping purely for growth, purely for yourself, you won’t really experience it. You have to take the seed of kindness inside you and use that. I’ve seen people who do work at soup kitchens, but because it’s a chore to them, just doing what’s “required” they don’t grow. They are still look down on those they are working to help. But that’s because they’re only out to help themselves.
So that’s why Jesus’ words on charity aren’t applicable to taxation and government spending.

 

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Discussion

12 thoughts on “Jesus the statist?

  1. I’ll give you an “A” for mastering the art of long, pointless rants. Where are the facts about the correlation of class inequality and poverty? Jesus was against greed, manipulating the poor, and disparity. The social and economic divisions have never been greater in this country, and you spend an entire rant arguing that the only way we can have God’s favor and change of heart is through direct contact with the poor, and screw the way we vote, and screw who we tax. Remember, God also commanded us to be good stewards of our land, and the best way to honor this is through informing ourselves and voting for the lawmakers who best represent ALL of the people. A true Democratic Government mirrors the very core of Christ’s message. It is not “fashionable” and it is not “liberal”. It is fair.

    Posted by Kathleen | March 27, 2014, 10:11 am
    • Hi Kathleen,

      The thing is, Jesus mission wasn’t concerned with class disparities. It was concerned with your salvation. That was His primary goal. With that as His goal, how your giving of time and money changes you is of primary importance (not to you, but to Him). Jesus gave you (and me) a personal admonition to help. He did not tell you to take money from others to give to the poor. I also never said that the only way was through direct contact. If I thought that I wouldn’t give to charity or my church. All of the things you said that Jesus wants us to do (be good stewards, feed the hungry, etc.) are true. But he wants YOU to do it. He doesn’t want you to tell others to do it. You can suggest others do it but when you force others you aren’t following Jesus (he also said thou shalt not steal too 🙂 ).

      Posted by Far Out Madman | March 27, 2014, 10:23 am
      • That’s how I thought you would respond. Giving the coat off of your back seems very symbolic towards class equality–the “Haves” giving to the “Have Nots”. Jesus had several reasons and goals. Giving to the poor was not about salvation. Salvation is not earned through works. He spoke more about our responsibility and attitudes towards each other. He lived in a country that was foreign to democracy, and people did not have the opportunity to help each other through taxes. Are you implying that the cure for poverty should be from personal donations from the disappearing middle class and the impoverished themselves? Rich people were not exactly at the top of JC’s List Of Things To Do & People To See for a reason. His words would have been wasted on the rich, as they were headed toward the eye of the needle. That certainly doesn’t imply that they should be exempt from paying their fair share in taxes. This is not theft. They, however, steal from the poor every day, by FORCING us to supplement their oil industry and pouring money into special interests that dig deeper motes between our socio-economic classes.

        Posted by Kathleen | March 27, 2014, 10:57 am
      • You’re right, salvation (justification) is not earned. Sanctification is a process we go through by allowing Jesus to use us. That is about works. By allowing Him to work through us we become more like Him and as such become sanctified (set apart). Being rich isn’t a sin, however being rich causes you to feel as though you’ve got everything under control. That you’re better somehow. That’s why Jesus said it’s difficult for the rich to be saved. In fact, in forcing a rich person to give will work counter to what Jesus wants for that person. He wants the person to choose to give (of time and money). You have to remove Jesus from our politics (right or left) to see what He really means. Don’t misunderstand me. Rs and Ds have problems, corruption, etc. Jesus is neither an R or a D. Taking from one to give to another is not compassion. I do believe you want to be compassionate but this is not it. Part of the point (and I don’t always get this either) is to realize there are no worse sins. All sin is wrong. All sin separates us from God. Looking down on the rich because they don’t give like you want them to is no better than looking down on a poor person for not helping themselves. Once you think you’re better than someone you’ve missed the mark. I have difficulty with that in some areas. Pedophiles, while the earthly consequences are worse for what they do, their sin is no greater in the separation it causes than lust or envy or theft. I have difficulty with that. But that’s because I don’t fully understand how bad sin really is (I think).

        Posted by Far Out Madman | March 27, 2014, 11:11 am
      • You’re just not seeing the full picture. You are advocating that the rich should not be forced to help support this country, even though they obtained their riches as US citizens, using taxpayer dollars and government programs to earn those riches (or sit around the pool, waiting for dividend checks, what have you) and some by exploiting the poor by sending jobs overseas, forcing us to subsidize their businesses, etc. Christ would have condemned them for this. You are missing the mark and supporting those who have no interest in the 99%. Perhaps you, yourself, are rich, and perhaps that is why I can sympathize with Jesus– my words are wasted on you. My work is done here, “It is finished”, and “That which is perfect is come”. Goodbye & God Bless!

        Posted by Kathleen | March 27, 2014, 11:32 am
      • See now you’re arguing a different point. The point was can we apply Jesus words (and meaning) of helping people to using force to take money from people to do good things. I do agree with the progressive tax scale. That wasn’t the point. The point wasn’t even about having a govt safety net. I’ve said we should. However you seem to have difficulty seeing past political ideologies. Thanks for the condescension though. It makes me wonder why you seek out the speck in your brother’s eye and ignore the log in your own.

        Posted by Far Out Madman | March 27, 2014, 11:45 am
      • You said liberals were wrong to make the claim that Jesus would be for higher taxes to help the poor. You said “Jesus’ words on charity aren’t applicable to taxation and government spending”. I disputed both of these. You like to criticize and claim we can’t grow by just paying our taxes and tithing. I think you are dead wrong on this. You have no solutions, facts or education on how a democratic government really works. Class inequality leads to poverty. Do you agree with this? Would Jesus support this inequality? “Force”, as you put it, is taking money from the poor to subsidize the rich. Now you’re FOR social safety nets? Who’s going to pay for that if we don’t “force” the rich to pay their fair share? Oh, right, I get it, “seeds of kindness”, uh huh, that’ll work.

        Posted by Kathleen | March 27, 2014, 1:13 pm
      • Hi Kathleen,

        First, I assume you’re a Christian so let’s not be overly antagonistic towards each other. I tried to make a little joke at the end of my last comment about specks and logs but perhaps it didn’t come off that way and if so I apologize. Again, let’s realize that even when we don’t agree we can still be civil. You said you think I am dead wrong on not growing by just by paying taxes and paying tithe. Why? Didn’t Jesus say “Go” not “Stay home and pay others to go” or did I miss something? You say I don’t know how a democratic government works, but this is based on what exactly? Is it the fact that I don’t think Jesus telling us individually to help others necessarily applies to you being able to tell Bill Gates (or any other rich person) to give their money to the poor? BTW, you do understand we live in a republic not a democracy correct? It’s an important distinction. Among the things about Bush that irritated me is that he kept insisting that democracy was the kind of government we should spread around the world. This is not true. Democratic Republics are far superior. You said “Class inequality leads to poverty,” but honestly that statement makes no sense. For there to be class inequality (rich and poor class) poverty has to already exist. So in essence you’re saying poverty leads to poverty. When you ask if Jesus would support income inequality you have to ask yourself what is Jesus primary concern? Salvation. Jesus Himself said that there will always be poor. It is a fact of this world. That’s not an excuse to not help the needy but it is indication He didn’t come to make sure everyone had 3 square meals a day. Force (when it comes to taxation) is not concerned with the direction of the flow of money but that it is the government taking from one to give to another. My question to you is if you believe that money, through taxation, is taken from the poor and given to the rich, how is that 47% of wage earners in the US pay no federal income tax? What percentage is the riches fair share? I’ve never said I was against a social safety net. I said I was against government dependence by those who would rather be dependent than try to support themselves (those people do exist). I never said I’m against taxes. The problem is you’re not debating or arguing with me, your arguing with the caricature of me you’ve created in your mind. You think things like, “he’s a conservative so he wants to starve children and kick puppies,” or “he doesn’t believe in any taxes at all,” or “he’s a racist,” or “he hates gays” or any other varied stereotype you’ve learned from MSNBC (that’s a bit of a liberal stereotype, I don’t know if you watch MSNBC). I wasn’t even really talking about the merits of socialism vs. capitalism. I was just saying you can’t really use Jesus as a reason for socialism. That’s all. I do think socialism is bad, but that wasn’t even what I was talking about here.

        Posted by Far Out Madman | March 27, 2014, 2:20 pm
      • The fact that you put me in that stereotypical bubble at the end of your last response paints a clear picture of you. Ad Hominem has just entered the building…that aside…

        I’ll make this easier for you to understand. Here is that source from Wikipedia. “International Monetary Fund published work which indicated that income equality increased the duration of countries’ economic growth spells more than free trade, low government corruption, foreign investment, or low foreign debt.” Economic growth=lower poverty rates. When the richest make the rules and as they widen the gap, the middle class and poor suffer, economic growth slows, unemployment skyrockets and more people need assistance. Studies also show that less than 3 percent of those drawing public assistance of any kind are fraudulent. This sounds like a pretty damned good system. Name one program that is foolproof.

        Yes, I am aware of our government’s structure, the Democrat vs. Republic terms, very important but I am hoping the less educated readers will read this otherwise bland and lengthy rant and follow the underlying rationale. Let’s put aside the nit-picking trivial shit, shall we?

        Your rant is about how you believe Jesus would not be in favor of higher taxes. Does this mean you are against taxes that feed the poor? You claim you are for a social safety net, but on the other hand, you just stated above that you believe government help creates dependency? FACT: You can only get TANF for 5 years. Your point is moot, since there are limits and very few are able to fool the system. Do you believe we are subsidizing big corporations? Do you agree that real “theft” is taxing the middle class to subsidize Big Oil and Big Corporations? How can you say you are for taxation, but equate it with “theft”? Your quote: “You can suggest others do it but when you force others you aren’t following Jesus”(he also said thou shalt not steal too 🙂 )”?

        As far as your 47% talking point goes:
        Fact: 28.3 percent pay payroll taxes, which cover Social Security and Medicare.
        Fact:10.3 percent pay no federal income tax because they are retired or elderly, and Social Security payments are not taxed
        Fact:Just 6.9 percent of people who are non-elderly don’t pay income tax. That is a far cry from 47 percent
        Would you like the facts on the mooching wealthy? I have those numbers too, but they’re not pretty.

        I’m not going to end this with an ad hominem attack, even though you clearly fit the bill as a far-right cliche, so I will withhold judgement, but not really…

        Posted by Kathleen | March 27, 2014, 6:04 pm
      • I’m going to approach this differently. Rather than have a discussion, or exchange of ideas with you, since that’s clearly not what you’re interested in, I’ll just go through what you wrote line by line.

        “The fact that you put me in that stereotypical bubble at the end of your last response paints a clear picture of you. Ad Hominem has just entered the building…that aside…”

        Ok, that wasn’t an ad hominem attack, that was a joke. The fact that I pointed out I was using a stereotype to paint you should have made that clear. Thanks for trying to have as unfriendly a discussion as possible. I will refrain from humor as much as possible moving forward.

        “I’ll make this easier for you to understand.”

        Well thank you as much of what you’ve said in the past made little to no sense or was just plain incorrect.

        “Here is that source from Wikipedia.”

        First of all, Wikipedia is hardly a reliable source. Its reliability waxes and wanes but lets assume the article you’re talking about is correct. Secondly, you did not provide the source. How hard is it to include a hyperlink? Sure I can go on line and look it up, but generally when someone says, “here’s a source” they provide the actual source.

        “When the richest make the rules and as they widen the gap, the middle class and poor suffer, economic growth slows, unemployment skyrockets and more people need assistance.”

        Since the war on poverty started in the ‘60s the rate of poverty has not gone down. It hasn’t gone up, but it hasn’t gone down (obviously there has been some variation but when looking at the trend it’s pretty flat for those in the 18-64 group). You can see that here: http://www.thewire.com/national/2011/09/poverty-hitting-youngs-hardest/42431/ So if the middle class is shrinking as you say, but poverty is relatively flat, where are the people in the middle class going?

        “Studies also show that less than 3 percent of those drawing public assistance of any kind are fraudulent.”

        What studies? What do they consider fraudulent? Is it only lying on forms? Do they consider a person who can work, but doesn’t want to as fraud (my guess is no but I can’t say as you’ve provided no studies for me to look into).

        “Yes, I am aware of our government’s structure, the Democrat vs. Republic terms, very important but I am hoping the less educated readers will read this otherwise bland and lengthy rant and follow the underlying rationale. Let’s put aside the nit-picking trivial shit, shall we?”

        The difference between a democracy and a republic is not “trivial.” A democracy is, at its core, mob rule. One vote per person, most votes win. A republic has systems and laws to protect the rights of people regardless of what people vote for. That is not a trivial difference. Without that difference black people in the South might not be able to vote still. How about instead of talking down to those beneath you (or at least those you perceive that way) we talk to adults like adults. I think someone who didn’t know the difference might be glad they did after it’s explained.

        “Your rant is about how you believe Jesus would not be in favor of higher taxes.”

        Not really. It’s about how the taking of the words of Jesus and twisting them to fit a socialist political philosophy is disingenuous (not to mention poor exegesis).

        “Does this mean you are against taxes that feed the poor?”

        Haven’t we covered that before?

        “You claim you are for a social safety net, but on the other hand, you just stated above that you believe government help creates dependency?”

        I am and it can. The safety net needs to help people up when they fall. It should not be a way of life and in many respects people want to treat it that way. When the safety net started FDR paid people to do meaningless jobs. Group A would dig a hole, Group B would fill that hole, because people didn’t want to take government assistance. Now people feel entitled to government money.

        “FACT: You can only get TANF for 5 years.”

        5 years seems long to me, but temporary is good. However you don’t actually believe that everyone who is on welfare has been on it for less than 5 years do you?

        “Your point is moot, since there are limits and very few are able to fool the system.”

        How so? People remain on welfare all their lives in this country. TANF is one of how many programs?

        “Do you believe we are subsidizing big corporations?”

        Corporations don’t pay taxes. Taxes are a cost of doing business. When costs go up so do prices. That’s just the way of things. True they may hit a tipping point where they can’t charge more, but then they will find a way to make the costs go down, generally through automation or outsourcing; both of which aren’t in our country’s best interest.

        “Do you agree that real “theft” is taxing the middle class to subsidize Big Oil and Big Corporations?”

        Do you man subsidizing by giving the corporations money or by not taking money from them?

        “How can you say you are for taxation, but equate it with “theft”?”

        I’ll admit that may seem heavy handed. Let me explain a bit more (since you didn’t understand the tongue in cheek manner that was intended). Taxation is theft when person A votes to have the government tax person B and give it to person A. You clearly see the conflict there don’t you? Why wouldn’t person A vote for that? Politicians give person B’s money to person A for votes. It is not theft for person A to vote to not give their money to person B. It’s their money. It is also disingenuous to call person A voting to take person B’s money and give it to person C charity or generous. It is not. It’s charitable or generous to give your own money, not other peoples.

        “As far as your 47% talking point goes… a far cry from 47 percent”

        Well actually I misspoke. I said 47% of wage earners. What I meant was 47% of households. I also said Federal Income Tax, not all tax. You’re mixing apples with oranges. If you’d like a link I can provide you with one but facts are facts. 47% of households pay no Federal income taxes. So the next time you try to correct my facts, try to do so by talking about the same thing I’m talking about.

        “I’m not going to end this with an ad hominem attack, even though you clearly fit the bill as a far-right cliche,”

        No ad hominem there for sure.

        “so I will withhold judgement, but not really…”

        Again, how about you deal with the log in your eye before you go looking for a speck in mine (that time I wasn’t saying that playfully). It’s awfully hard to see your need of a savior when your so self satisfied.

        Posted by Far Out Madman | March 27, 2014, 9:26 pm
      • You continue to throw out accusations and criticisms without merit or solutions. You won’t believe the source I DID give, why give any more? You are entitled to your opinions, Sir, but not to your fabricated “facts”. Rush would be so proud of you! You continue to contradict yourself, (between you and me, I think you’ve managed to confuse even yourself!) so I’ll give you MY interpretation of the Jesus I have come to know, whose name you are corrupting with every rant.

        MY Jesus was a TRUE socialist AND a liberal thinker. Here’s proof: (My source, BTW, is the Bible, did you want me to provide a hyperlink?)

        1) “Then saith he unto them, ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.’” Matthew 22:21 Right-wingers bitch about taxes that pay for a social safety net, equalizing it to “slavery”. They accuse the poor of laziness. They shut down the government when things don’t go their way, creating further confusion and hardships. Jesus preached about paying taxes even when we don’t all agree how they should be used. LIBERALS support this and are sympathetic to the poor. We do not accuse them. Jesus didn’t either.

        2)The so-called “Christian Right” is always forcing their religious beliefs into our legal system, despite the fact that many of our Constitutional authors were atheists. These fundies want to fund their churches and schools with taxpayers’ dollars. Jesus lived in a huge empire amongst many religions and ethnicities. Rome’s laws were against his people’s beliefs. He believed that Church and State should be separate. The so called “Christians” simply ignore the fact that Jesus does not value the wealthy one percent. “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24 LIBERALS support this! Righties want to control the government with their religious beliefs.

        3) Jesus hated capitalism. The only time Jesus loses his temper is when he finds the temple full of vendors.

        4) Jesus was FOR healthcare, something YOUR party is trying to destroy. “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” He didn’t charge a co-pay for this, either. This would have been SOCIALIZED medicine! He never said this would make the poor lazy or cause dependency on the government.

        You wanna talk further about social issues? I didn’t think so. That would be an embarrassment. Keep voting for the party of “NO”, those who strive to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, support corporations that don’t pay taxes, send money overseas, blame the poor and accuse them of laziness and dependency by choice, deny healthcare, deny voting rights, etc. and we’ll see who ends up on the right hand of God. Shame on you if you actually ARE a Christian, as the Bible has clearly predicted, that “even the very elect will be deceived” Matt 24:24 You are a lazy thinker. You choose to ignore facts. I will pray that maybe, someday, you will find the obvious narrow path to peace and life. Good Bye,Sir.

        Posted by Kathleen | March 27, 2014, 11:01 pm
      • In an attempt to both make the discussion more productive, and perhaps less antagonistic I’m going to only comment on the parts of your reply that deal specifically with the topic of the post. That is, not the benefits of socialism vs. capitalism but specifically if Jesus words are meant to apply to us specifically or if they can be applied to us making others help the needy.

        But before I do respond, let me deal with your accusations directed toward me.

        “You continue to throw out accusations and criticisms without merit or solutions.”

        It would help me respond to this if you could point out which criticisms you take issue with. Not sure what the solutions part of that statement is about but then again, you didn’t tell me what I was accusing you of, or criticizing you for. With that information it might be easier to understand. But then that’s the danger of late night replies. Perhaps it was obvious to you, but not to me.

        “You won’t believe the source I DID give, why give any more?”

        You didn’t give me a source. You told me Wikipedia says… something. No links (like I provided), no way to verify the information you supplied. That’s the purpose of a source.

        “Rush would be so proud of you! “

        Don’t listen to Rush. Don’t know if I would agree with him or not. I suspect I would on some things and not on others. Nice bit of stereotyping though.

        “Jesus preached about paying taxes even when we don’t all agree how they should be used.”

        When did I ever say we shouldn’t pay our taxes? When did I say there shouldn’t be any taxes? It’s funny because in the past you’ve said I don’t understand the way our government works but here again you’re showing the same disregard for it that you accused me of. I should just be quite and pay my taxes because Jesus said to pay taxes. The question isn’t if taxes are necessary but if Jesus words about charity can be applied to taking money from a stranger to give to another stranger (or taking money from a stranger to give to yourself).

        “The only time Jesus loses his temper is when he finds the temple full of vendors.”

        That was due to the disrespect they showed the temple, not because they were buying and selling. What you’re doing is practicing eisegesis, Where you let your preconceived notions tell you how to interpret scripture. In context capitalism clearly wasn’t what Jesus was mad about, He was mad that they were doing it there.

        “Jesus was FOR healthcare, something YOUR party is trying to destroy. “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” He didn’t charge a co-pay for this, either. This would have been SOCIALIZED medicine! He never said this would make the poor lazy or cause dependency on the government.”

        I don’t even know where to start with this. Miracles are not socialized health care. He was healing through the power of God, not the state. If you’re going to use this as a model for a healthcare system you need to reject medicine and work only through faith healers (I don’t recommend that). Also notice that He WENT and healed people. He didn’t tell Rome to heal people.

        Finally I’d like to say that any further comments from you that have the negative tone you’ve infused all of your previous comments will be deleted. Not because of content, because really you have none that can’t be easily answered but because you are casting Christians in a poor light. The old hymn does not say “they will know we are Christians by our distain for those who disagree with us,” but “ they will know we are Christians by our love.”

        Posted by Far Out Madman | March 28, 2014, 9:22 am

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