A funny thing happened on the way to 2016. Some random old guy (like, REALLY old) rallied millions of young people through social media, talking about social justice, and making social-ism sound good…
I was one of those people who heard about Bernie Sanders on Facebook several months before he began running for president. Every meme I saw from him resonated with me. They mostly just complained about the problems. But that was cool, because NO other politicians in Washington were willing to speak the truth about the problems that we ALL recognize.
Then Colonel Sanders became sort of a big deal. Good for him. Except that any time a person becomes a big deal, the wolves come out to play. The name-calling, ranting, grieving, and mocking was not surprising. Thankfully, a few well-balanced responses were sprinkled around the internet, too. The reactions have predictably ranged from helpful and fascinating, to despicable and ignorant. But the worse part is that malicious ignorant responses occurred ON BOTH SIDES.
While pondering this stuff, I came across this short quote: “If we want to retain our freedom and prosperity, then we must educate our children that the purpose of government is to secure liberty, not provide free lunches.” – David Deming
Securing liberty IS what government is about. Those liberties are being threatened by corporate greed. Most people I know don’t feel very free or prosperous, so one wonders what Deming is alluding to. The words liberty and free are synonyms. Deming is basically saying, “The purpose of government is to secure free stuff, not provide free stuff.” Socialists are not looking for free lunches. They are looking for the opportunity to work hard and earn a liveable wage. The difference between those is very nuanced. An educated person would know that.
Prior to reading that argument, I sought to answer a different question about socialism in general. It is to that endeavor we now turn…
Here are four truths that I believe 100% which may explain my current dilemma with socialism:
“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2:44-45 ESV)
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” (Acts 4:32 ESV)
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 ESV)
“The laborer deserves his wages.” (Luke 10:7, 1 Timothy 5:18 ESV)
I wish I had lots of intelligent, compassionate, Christian people reading my blog so that you could reconcile these for me. In the meantime, allow me to share what I’ve concluded (for now):
- The Biblical picture of socialism in Acts is not a governmental structure, but predicated on the free choice of Christians who genuinely care for one another. I wrestle with whether or not it should be a legal mandate for those who have way more than me to share. Maybe I’m the one being greedy.
- The passage from Thessalonians implies that people who are not eating and earning enough to live on, are also not working. These are lazy people. But many people enjoying the benefits of socialist programs in America are hard-working Americans. I am one of them.
- Both sides seem to agree that the reason this has become such a problem is because people are greedy, and business is treated by most corporate leaders like a money-making game rather than a people-helping game. In other words, capitalism is failing because hard working people are being kept poor by an oppressive system.
Nathan told King David that he was being selfish and greedy by taking another man’s wife. David repented. But when hard working people are complaining that they can’t afford to live on minimum wage, let alone go to college, the response should NEVER be, “oh, you just want something for nothing. You’re lazy.” The only time somebody did that in the Bible was the Pharaoh. It didn’t turn out well for him.
Somewhere in between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is an answer that looks to make more social services and government programs available to more people for lower prices…IF THEY WORK FOR IT!
For this to work, it would probably require heavier taxes for the wealthy and for corporations, but it also requires people to believe in their corporate ability to govern themselves. The kind of socialism Bernie is advocating seems actually VERY MUCH in line with our founding fathers. We want this to be a nation “by the people, for the people” but millions of Americans are beginning to feel like it is a nation “by the rich, for the rich”.
Will it work? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. But things are not currently working very well. It seems that everybody knows it. Trump and Sanders both offer REAL change. They see that America is NOT GREAT and they have completely different ideas about how America can be great again. One wants to build a wall. The other wants us to share more.
If you are a Christian and you want to make a case against Bernie Sanders, you can do it on moral grounds relating to his views on abortion and human sexuality. He’s wrong on both counts. And those are a BIG deal. But if you want to make a case against DEMOCRATIC socialism…you have to prove that walls are better than bridges, that the rich are looking out for the poor, and that corporations are operating out of love rather than greed.
Good luck with that.