Caring for the poor, the magistrates role?

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Puritan Sailor, Mar 5, 2008.

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  1. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Exactly, state welfare leads to idleness. Why work when you can live of the state?
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    My first year out of grad school I would have made more money on welfare than working at the job I was at.
  3. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    We are working on the fourth generation of welfare recipients in my state, and the moms who are having illegitimate children teach their children how to work the system.
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Here is another perspective -- if the magistrate can help the rich by a specific policy of govt. spending, why can't he aid the poor whom he may have prejudiced by the same policy?
  5. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Very good point.
  6. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    True enough, but it doesn't address the question of whether Joseph was violating God's law. I don't recall anywhere that says Joseph was commanded or directed to enslave the Egyptians. It was a providential result.

    In Joseph's case, at least, in God's providence Pharoah had a dream. I'll grant that Joseph's interpretation of it was from God.

    But I think on a more prosaic level, if God routinely brings about drought in certain areas, one would not have to be a prophet to realize the wisdom of setting aside produce in the good times. The question is, is the government of a non-Christian modern state violating God's law in doing that on a state level?
  7. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, magistrates should do this anyway.
    I would agree with this too.

    Again, to clarify for the knee-jerk conservatives, I'm talking about the magistrates role to help truly afflicted people, not lazy people. And I'm not talking about cradle to grave socialism either. Just asking what is the magistrate to do to better the life-threatening conditions of his citizens?

    In a crisis situation, like Hurricane Katrina for example, or a famine, or pestilence, what would the magistrates role be? How is he to care for his citizens and provide for their welfare, based upon biblical principles?

    And to clarify the principles even further, what is he to do if there is no Church in his land to help? Or at least not one sizable enough to help significantly?
  8. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Christ indicated that the money coined by Caesar, Caesar had a right to, if I'm understanding correctly. I don't think a lot of our taxation is constitutional. But I'm not sure it's unbiblical, except in being dishonest with the standard we profess to uphold.

    Authority does seem in Scripture to have a certain responsibility to the well being of its subordinates; and surely a magistrate is to seek to do good in his more influential office even as a private person in his. I'm not convinced that American conservatism is the only biblical way to go; but it seems that all forms of govt. are liable to abuses and our founding fathers -- in order to protect freedom of religion, maybe? -- tried most to protect against the kind of abuses that go along with the govt. having power to tax and so on even to help the poor?
  9. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Is the civil government stealing the money of some people and giving it to others whom it does not belong to? If so, that is a breach of God's Law. Surely Joseph's interpretation of the dream shows us that he was divinely guided in this specific affair?
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Its alright saying things are "facile" but often fallen sinners to not want the Biblical solutions to problems. Moreover, a lot of poverty is caused in the world as a result of Socialist policies.

    Wealth redistribution can never work, because the rich people do not have enough money to give to the poor equally. The only people enriched by state welfare are the bureaucrats needed to run it.
  11. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I believe for one thing that local magistrates are responsible to know the risks of natural disaster in their jurisdictions. For instance, the city of New Orleans knows there is a possibility of flooding. Some areas of the country risk snow and ice that will take cities down for long periods of time, etc. Most local magistrates do a good job preparing for these things. That's why cities have snow removal equipment. In our area, the electric co-op works tirelessly during the warm months of the year to keep the power lines clear so we don't loose power in the winter.

    If all has been done to avert disaster, and I don't think that necessarily tax payer dollars should pay for all of this. It would be best to solicit local volunteers to help do this work of preparation. I still remember the days when volunteers did a lot of work to prepare for disasters with the help of local magistrates. (It kept our taxes down and made people good about their communities.)

    When all has been done to prepare, and a disaster strikes, and folks need help, rather than funding huge amounts of money into relief effort, the magistrates, should be organizing local volunteers to help.

    Frankly, in the western world, we have become lazy about looking after our needs. We have ceased to "go to the ant thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise." Ants spend time preparing and working hard to avert starvation in the winter. Magistrates should find ways to avert potential disasters, not running to the rescue because people haven't prepared. When disasters do happen, magistrates should work to mobilize the citizens to pitch in and help. (Frankly, I'm tired of seeing magistrates paying agencies to come in and do things when a lot of work could be done by those who've survived the disaster.)

    As far as churches go, what we've seen with the relief that happened after Hurricane Katrina, I think that is a good example of what should happen. We have one church who is still sending helpers down to rebuild.
  12. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Thank you. This is a much a more constructive approach to the discussion.

    Perhaps the magistrate should also use their influence to invite foreign humanitarian aid too. Or invite the Church from foreign lands to come and help.
  13. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    The last point about petitioning the church in foreign lands to help would certainly be valid. But this is not the same thing as compulsion. :2cents:
  14. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Daniel, philosophically and politically I'm much aligned with you. I'm familiar with theonomy and before I was a Christian I was a zealous Randian. I even voted for Ron Paul the first time he ran for president.

    But you seem to be missing my question. I'm trying to pin down what is the moral basis for saying the government is stealing? We can call it a breach of God's law, but I want to see why.

    I think the key is figuring what an ownership interest is, what a debt is, and how did the debt come about.

    Obviously, if someone, whether a government or an individual, took something I owned outright, it would be theft. But if I owed money on it and the creditor repossessed it for non-payment, it would not be theft.

    So what I'm trying to get at is this: is there a situation in which a government has a legitimate (however limited) claim on things possessed by its citizens? It doesn't do to say flatly "no", especially when we are told by scripture (the Deuteronomy passage I initially quoted) that some (at least in ancient Israel) had a moral claim at least on part of another's income. The second question is, if the Deuteronomy passage establishes a moral claim on another's income, is the government a legitimate agent to adjudicate and regulate that claim?

    I agree, a total claim exceeds the bounds, but what are the bounds?

    I meant no offense with the term, brother. I merely was trying to point out that I thought the response was trying to dismiss my question without answering it. (Hey, I do it all the time when I'm busy or distracted).

    As for wealth redistribution never working, fine. I agree with the statement as an empirical observation. I even acknowledge that scripture gives us hints about why it doesn't work. But describing the practical evils resulting from welfare still doesn't pin my issue down.
  15. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor


    Sorry my posts are short but (unlike others) I don't have time to write whole essays on the internet these days (where do some folks get the time from?

    Its only entitled to money for the funding of the administration for civil justice (Romans 13:1-7). The reason Paul gives for paying taxes whom taxes are due is the administration of justice. Welfare is not a matter of justice, but of charity - a function of the individual, family and church, not of the state. Remember that a 10% rate of taxation is deemed to be oppressive in Scripture (1 Sam 8), and only an equal head-tax is mandated - this is obviously insufficient for Statist welfare.

    None taken. This is manly discussion, thin-skinned jessies should go elsewhere.
  16. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    If I may speak frankly, in another Katrina situation the best thing for the magistrate to do is to stay the h*ll out of the way. The govt compounded the problem exponentially.
  17. Anton Bruckner

    Anton Bruckner Puritan Board Professor

    the regulative principle of gov't.

    Don't want to sidetrack this thread, but what about infrastructure? Should the govt spend money on roads, canals, highways etc?
  18. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I would argue that there is Biblical warrant for the state spending money on roads, as there needed to be roads between the cities of refuge in Israel and so people could get to towns were justice was administered.
  19. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Very good, Daniel. In all my reading of theonomic literature--and it is quite vast--I have never heard that one before.
  20. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I think Gary DeMar argues for it in God and Government and Ruler of the Nations.
  21. Anton Bruckner

    Anton Bruckner Puritan Board Professor

    how about building roads as a means to facilitate commerce and economic prosperity?
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