CAP – Study 10 – Institutions – Family – Welfare
If you have diligently followed the common thread of these studies, it should now have become obvious that most of the problems that surround us in this world, which seem to have no answers, actually do have answers – at least from the bible.
The question then becomes: How long will we wait before we get serious and actually take matters in hand to deal with them?
And what about the church - where is its responsibility? How often are these issues addressed, other than simply complaining about the state of the family, nation and the world - and waiting for Jesus to do the job for us, when He clearly instructed us to get it done? Matt. 28:18-20
This study addresses the subject of welfare.
· The family is designated by God as the chief agency of human welfare.
· The fundamental principle of welfare is that charity should be personal.
· Rights of the eldest son (or most responsible child) are explained.
· The modern state has replaced the ‘eldest son’.
· The modern state has also become the heir of the family estate.
· The church is responsible to support its widows whose families have abandoned them.
The over-arching question then becomes: Does God’s way work – in our own lives – in our families – in our communities – in our country – in our entire world? Do we believe Him enough to at least test it out?
“Prove all things; hold on to that which is good!”-1 Thess. 5:21
(The following is from Gary North’s book “Unconditional Surrender”.)
The family is designated by God as the chief agency of human welfare. It is the agency that is most effective in solving the problems of poverty, sickness, and crisis. It is the only agency which knows its limitations and strengths. The head of every household count's the costs of every project undertaken by the family. No other human agency links mutual self-interest, mutual understanding, mutual obligations, and mutual support in the way that a family can. Members are close. They know each other's weaknesses and strengths. The family is also an extended institution, with bloodline contacts that can spread out widely. It can call upon related families for help in a crisis.
It is a fundamental principle of charity that charity be personal whenever possible. The Samaritan in Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan came across a helpless, injured man. He helped him. He could see how badly the man was hurt. He could see that he was not being tricked. He had the resources necessary for helping the man. He was close to a place where the man could be cared for. He hired the caretaker personally, which meant that he could hold that man responsible for the care of the injured man, since he was paying him to do the work (Luke 10:33-35). This is how Jesus defined the term "neighbor." It means someone who is in a position to help and who does so, based on accurate information concerning the plight of the injured or helpless.
The person most likely to be able to help a poor man is a slightly less poor man. The slightly less poor man is closer to the poor man (geographically and socially), he can recognize true need better than a distant man, and he can more accurately assess the short-term solutions to the poor man's problems. This means that charity from the rich should be filtered down through institutions that are close to the poor. The church is one such institution. Other private charities may also qualify. But well-paid, bureaucratic agents of the State, with its compulsory programs financed by taxes, will not be able to help the poor except at the expense of everyone's independence. The rich will pay, the poor will receive a fraction of the payments, and the bureaucrats will multiply. The relationship is invariably permanent, until the welfare State, that pseudo-family, goes bankrupt and is overthrown internally or defeated by external nations.
The family cares for children. It finances their educations. It cares for sick relatives. It provides work for the partially employable members in its midst. It supervises with feeling, not with forms in triplicate. It provides insurance, but not a lifetime of compulsory Social Security tax payments that are finally wiped out by the mass inflation necessary at the end of such programs in order to finance them. It provides aid, but not to everyone, not to blocs of special-interest voters.
The eldest son is entitled to a double portion of the family's estate (Deuteronomy 21:17). This means that if a man has four children who are legally responsible for him, then he must divide the estate into five equal shares, with the eldest son receiving two-fifths. Why? Because it is the eldest son who has the primary responsibility for caring for aged parents. The child who is willing to bear this responsibility is treated as the eldest son, such as Isaac's position of favor before Abraham, not Ishmael, the firstborn, or Jacob's position before Isaac because of God's choosing of Jacob over Esau, the elder twin. There is a mutuality of service and blessings. Costs and benefits are more closely linked. Family disputes among the children are minimized.
The State, in modern times, has become the "eldest son." Estate taxes in some nations will take virtually all of very wealthy estates. Families are forced to sell off lands and family heirlooms in order to pay the estate taxes. The State has asserted its position as the pseudo-family, and now it demands payment for its services. Those who voted for the creation of the caretaker State in the twentieth century should have known what would happen. The State becomes the heir of family capital. The true families are progressively bankrupted, yet the State, as an inefficient, tyrannical, life-long pseudo-parent, is also steadily bankrupted, for the State is not creative; it is parasitic. It needs new wealth to confiscate, yet its steady destruction of family capital withers up the sources of new taxes.
The church is required to take in widows who have reached the age of 60, but whose families refuse to support them (I Timothy 5:3-13). Nephews are considered responsible by the church authorities in such cases. It is a matter of excommunication for any family member to refuse such support to a de serving widow who meets the criteria specified in this passage. "But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (I Timothy 5:8).
It should be obvious that the family, and not the civil government, is the central agency in the battle against poverty. The incentive to increase the assets of the family leads directly to increased production. The incentive to maintain the reputation of the family by providing charity for indigent members is also present in societies governed by biblical principles. Because the family is the agency of social welfare, the civil government can remain small, limiting itself to protecting property, providing for national defense, enforcing God's civil law, and defending the public peace. The family, as the chief agency of government, reduces the need for civil government.