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Balancing various ideals when it comes to Christianity and economics

Posted by Chance on July 6, 2008

At times, it seems like liberalism coincides more closely with Christianity than say, conservatism, because of caring for the least of these, feeding the poor and hungry, don’t judge, etc… For a while, I myself was veering towards this idea, especially in my college years. However, when I saw how this ideal manifested itself in liberal politics, I got turned off of this. Basically, the idea that you wanted to help the poor automatically meant higher taxes and more government. If you even dared think that the top tax rate should be cut from 38% to 35%, then obviously you hated the poor. That, and my firm pro-life stance. I just couldn’t buy a philosophy that was all about helping the “least of these”, except when it came to abortion. It would be nice to adopt a philosophy that at least butted heads with the world’s values every once in a while. If I was to become a liberal, it would be more of the Catholic type, yes, big government, but they would support the Catholic doctrine even when it clashed with the world’s values.

The major obstacle for me embracing liberalism, Christian or any other, is that of the 10th commandment. “17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”” Now, when I talk to liberals, they say that they do not envy, they do not want to be rich, etc… and I believe them. But, the income redistribution system as a whole is envy, even if not everyone who supports the system is, in fact, coveting their neighbors stuff. The whole idea of progressivism/socialism is taking from the rich to give to the poor. Politicians appeal to the notion of class warfare, where he or she promises to tax the rich more and give more stuff to the poor. Folks, I cannot think of a more obvious instance of something that contradicts the 10th commandment.

So what does this mean? Have no welfare? Have no taxes? I realize the need for these programs. And I had the longest time trying to separate a system that has basic welfare vs. the system that we have now. I believe the the key to having an envy free society is a flat tax, a low income tax for everyone. By having a flax tax, there is no class warfare. There is no people voting to tax another group at no cost to themselves. By having a flat tax, we can still have democracy, where we choose how much to give, but we are all in it together. No more voting to raise our neighbors taxes and not our own.

I’m sure this idea sounds abhorrent to many, especially to those whose ideal government is much bigger than mine. But government spending needs some kind of check, and currently there is not much. There is no limit to how much government can spend when the majority choose what to do with the pockets of the minority.

So, when looking at Christianity and how it applies to economics and politics, I try to look at the entire Bible. Jesus advocated caring for the poor, but he never brought government into it (apparently Jesus’ silence only counts when it comes to abortion and (supposedly) homosexuality). Paul discussed methods to take care of the poor, and he told churches to focus on those who truly needed it. The 10th commandment said don’t try to take your neighbors’ stuff. Even with the Mosaic law and Israel, that society looked very little like what is advocated now among the Christian Left, with tax rates much lower than what we have today, among other things that I’d like to get into later. In other words, I don’t see a strong correlation between liberalism and what is taught in the Bible.

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