Socialism, Fairness, the American Republic, and the Bible (Never before released… seemed like a good time to discuss why socialism is never a good idea…
Socialism – well, doesn’t it sound fair and just: “the theory or system of social organization that advocates the ownership and control of industry, capital, and land by the community as a whole”? What’s the problem – shouldn’t we all share our resources and make sure that nobody ever has to do without? Why should some people be rich and others be poor – how fair is that? I thought sharing with others was central to a Christian world-view. After all, didn’t Jesus tell the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give it to the poor? Didn’t Jesus compare the chances of a rich man entering the kingdom to the chances of a camel going through the eye of a needle?
Sounds so right, doesn’t it? Communism’s even better: everybody sharing everything equally – to each according to his need, from each according to his ability? Ah, sweet Utopia! And by the way, didn’t the early church practice communism? It’s right there in Acts 4: 32-35: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was with them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (NIV) Could the pattern be any clearer?
Well, before we all sell what we own, give it to the poor and go on welfare (or whatever they call it today), let’s examine these things more closely. What’s wrong with socialism? Let me count the ways:
1) Socialism requires a strong central government. There has to be a high level of centralized power because of the monumental task of controlling everybody’s wealth and resources to make sure everything’s fair. This goes directly against the form of government created by the American Constitution: limited central government with power spread as widely as possible, not only within the federal government, but to the states. This system of checks and balances was developed for one simple reason – the doctrine of the depravity of man. The Founding Fathers wanted to make sure political power was not concentrated in one man or in a small group of individuals.
2) Socialism requires heavy taxation: This almost goes without saying. Where else would the government get the money to redistribute and pay for all the “free” services but from the people. But heavy taxation goes directly against what America is about, again. Taxation was at the heart of our dispute with England. Now, the cry was, “Taxation without representation is tyranny!” and we can assume we would still have representative government under socialism. But high taxes are a restriction on our freedom – after all, we’ll have less money to decide what we want to do with it. In Scripture, we are commanded to pay our taxes (Romans 13: 6, 7), and Jesus told us to ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars…” Jesus even paid a temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27), even though technically he didn’t have to – the Son doesn’t pay a tax to his Father – but He paid it to avoid offending them. The Bible, however, does condemn heavy taxation, as in Amos 5: 11 (Israel is condemned for heavy taxes on the poor), in Nehemiah 5:1-13(Nehemiah rebukes the rulers for imposing such high taxes that the people have to sell each other into slavery to pay), and in Nehemiah 9: 36, 37 (Heavy taxation is slavery). High taxes were even the central reason for the split between Israel and Judah. In order to pay for Solomon’s extravagance, high taxes were levied on the people, although most people were so wealthy that they were willing to pay it. But when his son Rehoboam threatened to raise taxes, the northern tribes split away from Judah. (1 Kings 12:1-17). In Deuteronomy, God warns future kings over Israel not to ‘increase” silver and gold to themselves. (Deuteronomy 17: 17).
3) The word is Freedom: Socialism necessarily restricts liberty. And America is about Freedom. That’s what this experiment in human governance, which IS THIS COUNTRY, is all about. Socialism requires the government to get into everybody’s life – we have to know who has “too much” and who has “too little”, don’t we? And there has to be a mechanism to take money from one person and give it to another. We also have to make sure some people don’t make too much – we can’t let anyone be successful, can we? That’s not fair! Liberty is too precious to be sacrificed at the altar of fairness, but it would have to be.
4) Socialism favors indolence (laziness) and disfavors hard work: The last thing many people in this nation need is for their laziness to be rewarded. But that exactly what Socialism does – why work harder – why work at all! – if it has no effect on how you live your life? And it discourages hard work – why work harder than other people if there’s nothing to be gained by it? This is exactly the problem the Plymouth Colony had when they first came to America and tried Socialism. It failed miserably because there was no reward for working harder or smarter. Once hard work was encouraged, the economy of the colony took off!
5) Sharing should be voluntary, not coerced: It’s a great thing for wealthy people, or people who have more, to be concerned for those who have less. In the book of Acts, the giving was all voluntary. It was also within the church – Christians supporting Christians. In fact, generous giving should be encouraged; socialism discourages it. Did you ever notice that liberals are usually stingy when it comes to giving money to charity? It’s conservative evangelicals who give generously, not liberal atheists.