More than Just Conservative (21)

Can and do people actually believe in slavery as salvation? Clearly, the answer is, yes, in most of history, men have clung to slavery, but it must be realized that they have rarely been honest enough to call their choice slavery. In case we ever become somewhat tolerant of the concept of slavery, we ought to remember that slavery and murder have commonly been linked in history.[1]

The Pharoah of Exodus was both a slave driver and a murderer. The Communist nations of the twentieth century, especially the Soviet Union, murdered and enslaved people by the millions. It was State policy for seventy years. That’s why it is essential to find lasting Biblical solutions to social problems, such as poverty.

You didn’t think this was a part of the gospel? Think again. When Jesus commenced His ministry, He stood up in the synagogue in Nazareth, and quoted from the prophet Isaiah, concerning Himself:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favourable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18, 19).

Socialism purports to care for the poor, but its means are to forcibly take vast amounts of money from productive people in the community through taxation, handing it over to unproductive people. But that’s not caring for the poor- that’s legalized theft, from which some “poor” people benefit.

So, how should we care for poor people? The thing that poor people need most of all, is work. This means that Christians ought to work for the elimination of award rates in employment, along with minimum wage rates and penalty rates.

Why? These compel employers to pay a specific rate of pay, whether or not the employer can afford that rate, or not. They work against poor people actually getting work.

Consider this example. Cafes, restaurants and Coffee-Shops are substantial employers in the Australian community, employing many thousands of people, nation-wide. When people go out, they want to be able to stop somewhere, for meals or refreshments, or both. If Fred the Coffee Shop owner, is compelled by law to pay his casual staff $25/hour, along with penalty rates (such as time and a half, or double time on Sundays) he may say to himself, “I can’t employ many staff at that rate. In fact, I can’t afford to open on Sundays. I’ll close the shop,” and everyone loses: his customers, himself, and his staff.

But if he can work out a sustainable labour price with his employees, he’ll be able to provide them with the maximum employment, because it’s in his interests to have his doors open. A needy employee understands that a lower rate of pay, is better than no work at all. If they are good enough, they can negotiate a better pay structure, later. What is required is the freeing up of the labour market, so that employers and employees can negotiate their arrangements, without interference from a third party.

In the long-term, this is one sure way of providing jobs for the poor. Work is what Boaz provided Ruth. She had the opportunity to engage in “gleaning:” going into his fields after the barley and wheat harvest had been completed, to pick up what had been left behind for the poor (see Ruth 2). Boaz recognized her character, her willingness to work, and showed favor to her. Later, he married her. 

At the same time, the Bible says a lot about other ways of caring for the poor. This can be in the form of money, or goods. For poor people, while having access to free money is very popular, it is also frequently abused. People like handouts without strings attached, and this will quickly bleed any truly charitable institution dry. This is why historically, poor people have tended to be divided into “deserving” and undeserving.”

Some poverty (such as drug addictions) is brought about by people’s folly, and it should not be subsidized. Other poverty is unrelated to people’s poor choices. Christian people have to be able to draw the lines in the sand, regarding which of the poor should be supported.

What poor people need most of all, is work. When they have that, they can buy food and other necessities, and they’ll get out of the poor queue. Having resources available can be a terrific help to poor people in need, and that includes knowledge of employment. The church can have a supply role in this vital field, with this encouragement to people: “Submit to God, get a job, and work hard.”

Conclusion:

Finding solutions for people’s poverty is an important aspect of the gospel. It involves money and goods, but it must be seen in a broader context, than merely providing commodities for people. The poor person most of all needs work, and removing the social hindrances to work (including negative attitudes) makes employment, and the ability to get out of poverty, possible.

Award rates, minimum rates and penalty rates are hindrances to work, making it more difficult to employ people. As the price of labour goes up, employment numbers go down. They reduce opportunities for employment, and wise governments will do away with them, letting the free market determine who gets a job, and at what rate. Jesus sent John’s disciples back to him, saying,

Go and report to John what you see and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them (Mat.11:4-5).

And this is what we are commanded to do, too.


[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “Salvation and Godly Rule,” 1983, p.149.