Does the Bible command social safety nets for the poor?
This is a re-post of my own comment on another of my blog posts (okay, I'm vain)
Does God command us to be socialists?
This is something I have long pondered, because I am a Christian, and I wondered how any Christian could oppose socialism and safety nets for the poor. (Because, after all, in Acts we read that the church that was guided by God's Holy Spirit had all things in common, and everyone gave from what he had to whomever was in need. Sound familiar?)
Then I realized that God instructs us to give to the poor. Not to contribute to a secular administrator of benevolence to give to the poor for us. Not to take something from everyone to give to the poor. But in every case that God commends, it is a freewill offering. Quite aside from the fact that taxes for social welfare yield a very small percentage to anyone who truly needs it, the bigger problem is this: who authorized you to take from others to give to the poor (via taxes)? It was not God. When you look at the wealth of a billionaire and think to yourself "What a lot of good could be done with that money!" You are not thinking spiritually, but carnally. You are not being generous, but covetous. Who can be generous with the possessions of another?
To try to achieve with a secular country what God did through the Holy Spirit in the first century church is not just folly, it is blasphemously conceited. But to do it again in His church today...?