2/28/2011 11:13:00 pm

Christians and Government Aid

Posted by Tom French |

I read this blogpost on Ed Stetzer's blog about how huge amounts of evangelicals in the US are in favor of cutting foreign aid, welfare, unemployment benefits and education in the federal budget, as opposed to spending on the military and security.

I don't understand how a Christian can arrive at a view like that. Like if you said to Jesus "Should the government spend $10 on clean water for an African village or should it buy some bullets?" I feel like I know what Jesus' answer would be.

But Stetzer poses the question about how the church should be responding to the talk of the federal budget and the responses he got were enlightening.

Basically, the people who were in favour of budget cuts to aid and education seem to be saying that it's wrong for the Christian to be outsourcing their individual responsibility to help the poor to the government. Christians should be changing the world, not getting their government to do it for them. When we support aid we're just avoiding what we should be doing ourselves.

Now this idea makes more sense than just saying "Stuff poor people, let's buy tanks!" (Though tanks are awesome!)

The advantages to aid coming from the church and individuals is that it can bypass the government's political agenda, money doesn't have to be spent on propping up government backed dictators, or doing aid work to ultimately benefit the donor country. It means that aid can go where it's needed, with no agenda or a gospel agenda. Both agendas I think would be more appealing to Jesus.

However my view is that if the government is going to take the money that God has entrusted me with then I would like them to be spending it on things that seem to be more in-line with God's Kingdom values that nuclear submarines. Plus as a member of a democracy when the government that represents me spends money they do it on my behalf. So it is my responsibility to urge them to spend the money on the things that align with my values. As a Christian that falls more in the camp of aid and education than national security. I'm not shirking my responsibility by seeking that my government helps the poor and marginalised, I'm fulfilling it. And with the money that is left over after tax I still have a responsibility as a Christian to spend my money on helping the poor and marginalised. It's not either/or, it's both.

That's what I think. I might put some of that in a comment.

Anyway, what I am pleased about is that now I have a better understanding of why people disagree with government aid and it's not as loony as it first seemed.

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