Inherit the Earth (18)

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.                                                                                                                                                                  Frederic Bastiat

Everybody likes help when they’re in trouble. I do. Help is a good thing. But help must always be given responsibly, and received responsibly.

In economic terms, there are limits to responsible help. Sometimes we call them “lines in the sand.” The lines in the sand quickly get blurred, when individuals or social institutions such as the family, the church, the state, or others deny the Biblical limits God has given us in the Bible.

A term has been coined in the recent decade: “too big to fail.” This indicates that a bank or other institution is so big and influential, that to let it fail and go bankrupt, would cause unwarranted hardship in the community. Therefore, the government (through the taxpayer) is pressured to “step in” to the financial mess and help the institution.

This is wrong morally, and financially. Why?

Every day of the week, there are businesses failing. They generally fail from bad management, from poor planning, or from too much debt. Sometimes they fail because of natural disasters, or from an unforeseeable economic calamity. But they do fail, and if an institution is “big enough” to gain financial assistance from taxpayers, then what about the smaller ones? Aren’t they morally, just as entitled to help as well?

All this has come about because people have neglected to understand the Biblical role of government. Government has unfortunately been seen as some kind of social cure-all. This means government gets burdened with so many social problems, it finds it difficult, even impossible to do the things God requires it to do.

Help me Mr Government Man. I need help to educate my kids, to get my health problems sorted out, and I could really use a new house. Oh, and a job would be good, too. And could you get me to the shops, and help me pay for the shopping?

Is it the government’s responsibility to help out people and institutions in financial distress? No. To do so only encourages further financial irresponsibility in the community.

But there is something worse than that. It means we have degenerated to a Fascist system. It means that the forms of freedom and democracy appear to be maintained, but there is an unwholesome relationship between business and government. Legalised nepotism is at work in the community, where “certain people” or companies are entitled to “certain favours,” while others get… nothing. Or worse, they are subject to extra restrictions, which the favoured ones are exempt from.

This is collusion, and is evil. This is corrupt. This is oppression, and God hates oppression. And today, the democracies are riddled with it.

It was President Truman who famously challenged his staff, “If you can’t stand the heat of the kitchen, get out of the kitchen.” But today, if you’re running a big company that employs lots of staff, you can go to government for a bailout. “Hey, presto!  Problem solved!”

That’s one of the reasons why the United States today is rushing towards economic catastrophe. So many people have had their hands in the cookie jar, and so few people have been concerned about paying back debt. It’s been happening for generations, and it’s not looking good.

…the Biblical position is that every sphere, economic, political, educational, social, marital, scientific, and all others are governed by the absolute laws of God and are set within a context of law.                                                                                                                                                               R. J. Rushdoony

Got financial problems? We all have them, at one point or another. Take responsibility for them. Know where the lines in the sand are. Do what the Bible says: “…work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil.2:12). Don’t ask others or the government to do for you, what you should do yourself.

A godly society is based on free people. But there is no freedom without responsibility, without lines in the sand, so that people work hard at doing what they should do, without dragging others into their problems.

That’s how Christians will get to inherit the earth.