Sunday, July 24, 2016

Socialism, Capitalism and Scripture

George Washington praying

There is a battle for the direction these United States is to travel in the coming four years. Which direction will we choose? Some believe the left and socialism is better, because they give so much to so many. Some believe the right and capitalism is better because they step aside and encourage people to work for their income. Many have allegiance with one party or the other because of long-standing traditions or what one party of the other used to stand for. Putting all that aside, let's look at what they stand for today and see if we find a clear choice for Christians.

First, some unbiased definitions from Miriam Webster

  • Capitalism Simple Definition of capitalism -  a way of organizing an economy so that the things that are used to make and transport products (such as land, oil, factories, ships, etc.) are owned by individual people and companies rather than by the government.
Full Definition of capitalism -  an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.
Definition of capitalism for Students - a system under which the ownership of land and wealth is for the most part in the hands of private individuals.

  • Socialism - a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
Synonyms include leftism and welfarism. It is policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism. (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism.
Definition of socialism for Students- a social system or theory in which the government owns and controls the means of production (as factories) and distribution of goods.
Simple Definition of socialism - a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies
Full Definition of socialism  - any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. A system of society or group living in which there is no private property. A system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state. A stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

Because communism is part of the previous definition,

  • Communism simple definition - a way of organizing a society in which the government owns the things that are used to make and transport products (such as land, oil, factories, ships, etc.) and there is no privately owned property.
Full Definition - A theory advocating elimination of private property. A system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed, capitalized. A- a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics B-  A system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production C - A final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably D – Communist systems collectively
Simply put, with socialism the government controls my income as it sees fit. Capitalism lets me control my income as I choose. Some argue that is unfair to the poor. Is it?

From the beginning, we are told to work for what we eat. Gen 3:19 “By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, because from it you  were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Those who neglect working have no right to ask someone else to work for them. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.” Did you notice those who did not work were undisciplined and caused burden on those who worked?

Yet, individually we are to freely share with those who are unable to earn, the poor. Deuteronomy 15:7-11 “If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. Beware that there is no base thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,’ and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you. You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings. For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’

Taking that which does not belong to you (things that you haven’t earned) is not an option. Ephesians 4:28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.”

In case you missed it, we are instructed to earn more than we need “so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” Acts 20:35 “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

You will remember in the book of Ruth, she gleaned for the remnants as the harvesters gathered the crop. Leviticus 23:22 ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.’ It was an instruction from God to leave some for "the needy and the alien."

In fact, there is a blessing that goes along with that obedient sharing. Deuteronomy 24:19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” A blessing for those who share, and a provision for those unable to earn a sustainable living – the orphan, the widow.

Jesus even explained that when we share with one who needs, it is like sharing with Him. Matthew  25:35-40 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

So, if we can get someone to give us what we need, why work? Proverbs 24:30-34 “I passed by the field of the sluggard and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.  When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest,” Then your poverty will come as a robber And your want like an armed man.

Why not just demand those who have plenty to share?  (Find the contrast between the prudent and the foolish.) Matthew 25:3-10 “For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. “Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. “But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ “Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. “The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ “But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’“And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.” The prudent were prepared. The foolish should have prepared for themselves.

We should work, and earn, and sow while we can in order to be prepared for an unexpected events. Ecclesiastes 11:1,2,6 “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.”

If capitalism, (working for a living) is what God expects from us, why do so many think socialism is better? When did capitalism become a dirty word? Perhaps it began when we stopped looking to God for instruction and looking to our government instead. Socialism was used by Marx as “a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism.” “Communism is a religion of the state, committed to the extinction of the Church.” —Flannery O'Connor, The Habit Of Being, 1979

The transition to communism from socialism is an easy one. The people are already primed to give the government most of what they earn and they look to it as the giver of all good things. It easily becomes an idol before which the people must bow in order to receive anything; a secular religion.

The seeds were planted in the last few decades giving credence to anything but godly wisdom, and looking to the ideas of men and “science” are now bearing fruit. With relative ethics, and lack of consequence for wrongdoing, we are now primed for this transition from following God to following what seems right in our own eyes.

Neither the republican nor the democratic party is without flaws in regard to God’s laws, but their difference is striking. These are excerpts from their respective platforms for 2016.

The 2016 Democratic platform v. Republican platform
Democratic – “Guaranteeing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights… Democrats applaud last year’s decision by the Supreme Court that recognized that LGBT people—like other Americans—have the right to marry the person they love. We will combat LGBT youth homelessness and improve school climates.
Republican – “The Declaration sets forth the fundamental precepts of American government: That God bestows certain inalienable rights on every individual, thus producing human equality; that government exists first and foremost to protect those inalienable rights; that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights; and that if God-given, natural, inalienable rights come in conflict with government, court, or human-granted rights, God-given, natural, inalienable rights always prevail;…Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values.”
Democratic - “every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion”
Republican – ““The Constitution’s guarantee that no one can “be deprived of life, liberty or property” deliberately echoes the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation that “all” are “endowed by their Creator” with the inalienable right to life. Accordingly, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.”
Democratic – “Democrats believe that today’s extreme levels of income and wealth inequality are bad for our people, bad for our businesses, and bad for our economy. Our country depends on a thriving middle class to drive economic growth, but the middle class is shrinking. Meanwhile, the top one-tenth of one percent of Americans now own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent combined. These trends create problems beyond insulting our sense of basic fairness. Social mobility is far lower than most believe it to be. Children who are born to families in the lowest fifth of earnings are more than 10 times more likely to remain there as adults than they are to earn as much as those in the top fifth. Unless we invest in building a level playing field, we all lose.  11 Reining in Wall Street and Fixing our Financial System To restore economic fairness, Democrats will fight against the greed and recklessness of Wall Street. Democrats will not hesitate to use and expand existing authorities as well as empower regulators to downsize or break apart financial institutions when necessary to protect the public and safeguard financial stability, including new authorities to go after risky shadow-banking activities.”

Republican – “Prosperity is the product of self-discipline, enterprise, saving and investment by individuals, but it is not an end in itself. Prosperity provides the means by which citizens and their families can maintain their independence from government, raise their children by their own values, practice their faith, and build communities of cooperation and mutual respect.”
Democratic – “Appointing Judges… We will appoint judges who defend the constitutional principles of liberty and equality for all, and will protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion, curb billionaires’ influence over elections because they understand that Citizens United has fundamentally damaged our democracy, and believe the Constitution protects not only the powerful, but also the disadvantaged and powerless.     
Republican - "Only a Republican president will appoint judges who respect the rule of law expressed within the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, including the inalienable right to life and the laws of nature and nature’s God, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia."

My Conclusion
In reading these excerpts, it seems one party has chosen to look for laws that suit their liking and either overlook or deny completely the conflict with the laws God has already in place. The elements of "wealth inequality" in the democratic platform are inline with the socialism step into communism. The republican party acknowledges “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights; and that if God-given, natural, inalienable rights come in conflict with government, court, or human-granted rights, God-given, natural, inalienable rights always prevail.”

My original question was to whether or not there is a clear choice for Christians. What do you think?
I welcome your comments.