…Even the compassion of the wicked is cruel (Prov.12:10).
Particularly since the Great Depression, we have gotten ourselves into a right pickle in the West, in relation to our expectation of what governments can do for us. This has already caused us some drama, and will cause a whole lot more in the coming years.
Why? Because the West’s underlying belief structures have been shifting steadily away from God. But as Chesterton observed, when men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything. So people have been drawn to believe that the government can ultimately do for them, what only Jesus Christ could ever do. And this is where we have got it terribly wrong.
The State is not an agency of creative transformation. It is not a saviour state. Men should not seek to make the State an agency of social salvation. It is supposed to enforce Biblical civil law-no more, no less. The State is not supposed to make men righteous; its God-assigned task is to restrain certain specified tasks of public evil.
The most important reason that governments can’t do it, is that God hasn’t gifted them and instructed them to do so. They have tried all right, and they will keep on trying to prove the Bible completely wrong. But all the trying won’t prevent failing.
The marks of socialism historically are useless wars, broken promises, the failure to deal with basic infrastructure needs, massive bureaucracies and debt. Today, all over the western world, the wheels are steadily coming off the economic billy-carts. Know of any nations that are running a budget surplus these days? They are as scarce as hen’s teeth. The consistent trend is more debt, on top of what has been borrowed in the past. And in most countries, that’s a lot.
But there’s more. I recently read of a US soldier, wounded in the Viet Nam War. Like many thousands of others, he needs on-going treatment for resultant chronic health problems.
But can he get it? No. Because the Defence Department bureaucracy can’t cope with the number of people with needs. It is under-funded and under-staffed.
Try dealing with this if, as is the case with an acquaintance of mine, you are so riddled with shrapnel, because something big came through the bottom of your helicopter, that you are in constant pain – forty years later. You have to take so much pain medication just to get through the day that you can’t understand bureaucratic letters.
This man’s legal adviser wrote to him:
I currently have four claims for Iraq and Afghanistan kids for shoulder, hip and knee injuries, usually caused when they fall going up or down hilly terrain with these [back-pack] loads. Then there are the injuries caused by IEDs. The truth is that the President has given more money to the VA in five years than Bush did in eight, but it’s not enough, thanks to Republicans in the House. The new budget proposes a 4% increase to $63 billion, but it does not include enough money to hire thousands of new people to work on claims. Most of the increase is to hire more medical staff, particularly mental health providers. It does no good to offer mental-health services when the vets who are suffering can’t get their claims done in less than a year. It is forcing many to live on the streets, sleep in their cars or they end up in shelters. We see this right here, in Central Oregon.
There is a lot more that could be said about the flaws and evils of socialism in every nation where it’s been tried. What is plainly evident though, is that socialism is essentially a curse on any nation.
But there’s something important here to note. The scripture tells us that “… a curse without cause does not alight” (Prov.26:2). Socialism is not merely politically applied atheistic beliefs, or a set of social policies: it is a result of the Church’s disobedience to God.
How is that?
Think of this statistic. Some years ago I heard that only 3% of American church-goers tithe. The tithe is commanded by God to support ministers (see Mal.3:8-12), and has the capacity to empower the Church to innumerable tasks of assistance and reconstruction. The Church would clearly become a powerful and influential social institution, if Church members world-wide faithfully tithed.
Now if 3% of the Church in the US is tithing, there is 97% of the problem. God is using the evils of socialism (as bad as they are) as a rebuke to His people. So, many nations in the West are paying tax rates of 40% or more. In France, the top tax rate is 85%.
We have to face up to this. It’s no good saying, “Well, tithing was under the Old Covenant, but we’re under the New Covenant now, so tithing’s finished with now.”
Is that all? No.
Tithing is one aspect of Old Testament law, which the Church has been distancing itself from for hundreds of years, and now the birds are coming home to roost, just as God said they would in Deuteronomy 28 (and other places). That’s what has gotten us into this mess, internationally.
This is the issue:
When God deals with His people in a harsh way in history, it is a means of restoration: judgment unto restoration, not judgment unto destruction.
The compassion of the wicked, is indeed cruel, as that US serviceman can attest. But the ultimate solution to this is not political action, it is the obedience of Christians to God’s Word.
Are you ready for that?