Most of the political left in this country is secularist, and sometimes militantly so. But there is a remnant of religious lefties, and a Detroit News reader who goes by the pseudonym “RepubTeach” has been preaching the Social Gospel of late.
Recently I mentioned a Democratic Party politician who decried entitlement reform as “un-Christian.” I then repeated the comments of a reader on another site: “I’m still trying to find the passage where Jesus tells his followers to take as much as they can from others, so that they can have more to give to the poor.”
As part of my short comments, “RepubTeach” (unofficial motto: “critics of social democracy are selfish bastards”) mentioned what is commonly known as the biblical story of the rich young man. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told a man who asked him some questions to “sell your possessions and give to the poor” and to “come, follow me.”
RepubTeach, for his part, wants use this passage to bludgeon politically conservative Christians into supporting “the lawful benevolence of the American Social Covenant.” I know that the Bible has lots of covenants in it, but I must have missed that one. Perhaps I’m mixing up my holy books.
I’m sure Jesus challenged the young man, but what did his exchange with him have to do with Social Security, Medicare, tax rates, or the “American Social Covenant”? Not much, if anything.
Why do I say this? The Michigan View is a forum for talking about politics rather than practicing biblical exegesis, so I’ll point out the obvious: Jesus was talking to a man who was concerned about his relationship with the Almighty. He wasn’t offering offering political advice on the wisdom or viability of a law or bureaucracy 2,000 years into the future.
Consider the alternative: One’s salvation depends on the response to questions about the nitty-gritty details of government program X.
And if the U.S. government ever makes the spiritual condition of its citizens a public concern …. Well, if you think we have a polarized political scene, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Ever hear of a place called the Balkans?
The case against the current entitlement system is both moral and pragmatic. Here’s a very quick preview: Continuing to to satisfy our current desires for consumption by having government spend and then send the tab to our grandchildren is hardly a moral policy. And since it’s not sustainable, it’s not smart, either.
I will agree with RepubTeach in one respect: No self-identified Christian should take Ayn Rand too seriously. There’s one obvious reason (she preached atheism). In addition, shefailed to distinguish between political and personal obligations–the same mistake made by many Christians today, left and right.