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Social Responsibility and Socialism; Part 2

June 29, 2017

In our last post, we examined some aspects of socialism to determine if Christianity teaches that socialism is the way we are to fulfill our social responsibilities. We examined four aspects of socialism that conflict with Biblical principles. They were: (1) the emphasis on the community as primarily responsible to take care of people as opposed to the Biblical view that the family is to be primary; (2) the emphasis on forcing people to do what others think they should to through legal coercion, instead of loving reason. Socialism focuses on outward compulsion instead of producing an inward desire to do something willingly; (3) the difficulty to not see the desire to legislative wealth redistribution as legalizing covetousness (i.e. it is unfair that some have things that others do not, see Ex. 20:17); (4) the tendency to treat the rich as a single unit as if all rich people are the same, or obtained their wealth the same way (i.e. through corrupt means). To these four unbiblical aspects of socialism, we will add two more.

To pick up at the last , we will examine whether or not legislation regarding the rich or the poor as indiscriminate groups is consistent with biblical justice. Biblically speaking, hard work is to be rewarded (Acts 5:4, 1 Tim. 6:17). Think of Abraham. Abraham was a man of incredible industry and hard work, and he obtained many material possessions as a result. The same can be said of David, or of Israel as a nation. This was not considered evil, nor were these people to have their wealth taken from them because of some human idea that having many materials is intrinsically unfair. What is to be punished legally, is if a rich person obtains their wealth through fraud, dishonesty, or oppression (Prov. 11:1, Lev. 19:36, Dt. 25:13). Biblically, the legislation was reserved for those particular rich people that were acting wickedly, not for rich people just for being rich. Being rich was not to be punished, simply because somehow the concept of rich was considered unjust or unfair (remember, equal percentages of tithes were required from all people). In addition, the poor were not to be treated in sweeping fashion, but instead, each person was to be treated according to their individual situations. Some people are poor due to idleness. In these cases, the people are not to simply be given food. They are to be taught how to work before they are given the aid they need (2 Thess. 3:10). Of course, some cases of poverty having nothing to do with idleness. In these latter cases, the poor are to be helped, but in a way that includes the Biblical ethic of work, and should begin with the family (1 Tim. 5:3-4, 16). For example, the poor still had to go into the fields and work to gather their provision. Helping the poor included the necessity of work (Lev. 19:9-10, Lev. 23:22).

Therefore, socialist welfare policies are unbiblical on three grounds. First, the policies treat all rich people as a unit, and all poor people as a unit, and in many cases end up penalizing people who have worked hard and have a biblical right to enjoy their property (Acts 5:4, 1 Tim. 6:17), and reward some idle poor who are not to be helped in their idleness (2 Thess. 3:10). Therefore, biblical principles of justice and equity are violated. Second, policies to help the poor, do not include the necessity of work as they are to do according to Scripture. Third, socialism thrives off of keeping people dependent on the system, instead of producing financial independence (1 Thess. 4:12). We see many principles of biblical equity and justice violated due to blanket programs that do not treat people on a case by case basis. This is unbiblical.

The second additional unbiblical aspect of socialism for this brief discussion, regards the right to private property. In the law, it was clear that a person’s land belonged to them and their family, and not to the state (Lev. 25:10-17, cf. Acts 5:4). Think about how the seventh commandment requires the principle of private property. The land belonged to the family, not the government.

Notice the contrast between the way Ahab and David, as Kings, dealt with other people’s property. Ahab was a wicked king, and ended up seizing Naboth’s land simply because he thought he had a right to as the king (1 Kg. 21, esp. vs. 7). David was a righteous king. Instead of seizing Araunah’s land, simply because he was the king and had a false view that he could do so, he insisted on paying Araunah for his land, on which the Temple would be built. Think about that. Even though the Temple was to be used by the entire nation, the king did not have the right to seize land at will for such use. The king had to pay the owner of the land, Araunah, and could be rightly denied the land if Araunah did not want to give it up. For David to seize the land like Ahab, would have been theft by the governor (Ex 20:15, Dt. 19:14). Compare this with Peter’s claim that Ananias had a right to do what he pleased with his land (Acts 5:4).

In case you think this irrelevant, since we “own” property in America, think about what would happen if you stopped paying property taxes. If you did stop paying those taxes, you would find out who really owns the land. In fact, the idea of property taxes is based on the concept that the government owns the land and not the family. This is unbiblical. Scripturally, private property is protected, the land belonged solely to the families, and the king had no right to his citizen’s land.

The main point is, here are two more ways in which socialism violates biblical principles. As Christians, we do have social responsibilities as 1 Timothy 5 and 6 show us. However, socialism is unbiblical on many grounds (we have now examined six of them). We cannot argue for unbiblical means to accomplish our social responsibilities.
Let us pray that we all use Scripture as our authority for all realms of thought. May God prevent us from adopting worldly philosophies that violate his principles. May we fulfill our social responsibilities God’s way.

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