Sunday, July 1, 2012

Feed the Poor, Not the Lazy

As Christians, are we required to support freeloaders?

I've been having a discussion with two friends about food stamps and the welfare system in the U.S. They say everybody who wants food stamps should get them, regardless of lifestyle. May they be on drugs, deal drugs, get four different women pregnant without supporting any of the kids, and refuse to even enter a job center, my friends believe they should get food stamps, because, well, it's food.

I don't wish to see anybody starve, but there is a difference between using the safety net of welfare and food stamps, and considering them a career choice.

Money is limited. Yes, food stamps are money. I think the money should go to people who need it, not merely want it: folks out of work but actively job hunting, single parents struggling to raise kids on a low income, the sick or injured, and those struggling to make ends meet because of a special needs child, to name a few.

Am I heartless? Am I going against Christian value by putting people in separate categories, the needy and the greedy? Are we commanded "to feed the lazy, for they don't wish to work"?

Let's read about how the early Christian communities dealt with it.

In Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians he addresses the issue of freeloaders.

...follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8 nor did we eat [k]anyone’s bread [l]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; 9 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 [m]follow our example. 10 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. 11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all...

 (2Thes. 3 NASB) *emphasis added

Elsewhere in the Bible, we are commanded to care for the poor, widows, orphans, and sick people. But this letter clarifies the fact that we need not feed the lazy--that is, those choosing not to work. Paul sees a difference and so do I. What do you think?

Do you distinguish between helping these people--

And these people---

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