Charity or Soul Crushing Dependency?

During this Advent season we have, naturally, been talking about Christmas in my church. The theme is that “it isn’t your birthday”. That the Holy Spirit calls us to service for our fellow man. That giving of ourselves to each other – time, love, work and treasure – is the true calling of Christians.

For the record, I couldn’t agree more.

It gets complicated, however. Giving people money, more often than not, results in more harm that good. For example…

THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.

Many people in hillside mobile homes here are poor and desperate, and a $698 monthly check per child from the Supplemental Security Income program goes a long way — and those checks continue until the child turns 18.

“The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check,” said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. “It’s heartbreaking.”

This is an extreme example but it is an example of an extremely common outcome. The law of unintended consequences is a demon that always follows closely on the heels of charity.

The welfare state in America is the father of millions of hopeless children trapped in soul crushing poverty. Government welfare programs have undermined the role of fathers in society, displaced faith based organizations, condemned children to feral conditions immersed in ignorance, caused hopelessness that leads to substance abuse and set poverty permanently in the fabric of the American people.

The social rot caused by the welfare state wherever it is pervasive is manifest but it is most damaging in the manner in which, in some quarters, it has been nearly fatal to the family. In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote this….

There is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future – that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, disorder – most particularly the furious, unrestrained lashing out at the whole social structure – that is not only to be expected; it is very near to inevitable. And it is richly deserved.

This is the most insidious aspect of an unconstrained welfare state. It relegates men to a status of redundant and unnecessary. Generation after generation are born and bred in a culture that has been ripped out by the roots and replaced with something poisonous to human development. This subversion of the social role of men represents the end of family, the end of social structure, the end of domestic tranquility and the end of God in our communities.

The road on which we traveled to this fresh hell was paved, as always, with good intentions. It was paved with a desire to help the poor, to feed the hungry and to clothe the naked. Christ’s call on us to be of service to our brothers and sisters was not intended to undermine the social structure, undermine the culture and crowd faith from our lives.

So yes, serve your fellow man. Give of yourself and your time and treasure. But be mindful that misdirected money can do, and often does, more harm than good.

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6 Responses to Charity or Soul Crushing Dependency?

  1. notamobster says:

    Christ’s call was for each man to “do unto others, as you would have them do unto you”.

    Nowhere in that clarion call for individual service did I hear mention of a massive leviathan taking the reigns of charity from the hands of the individual, the community, and the church. I don’t remember his giving of ridiculous sums of money to the poor, to be spent of beer, lottery tickets, tattoos, & crack cocaine.

    Maybe that was the Sunday school class I got kicked out of for saying “Peter” when she asked “What is the only part of the body named after a character in the bible?”

    I’m agreeing with you, RD. I’m just being a little less sensitive about it. When the impetus for charity is moved from the local or individual body to the larger, nameless/faceless body of government – the sense of shame, as well as the sense of gratitude is removed and replaced by a sense of entitlement.

    It’s easier to look an envelope in the face and takes it money over & over, than it is to look at your neighbor and do the same. That’s all I’m saying.

  2. James says:

    Never give money.
    Provide odd jobs for pay.
    Work out a deal with Salvation Army or Goodwill, with prepayment for clothing qualified poor can get.

    No money.

  3. slinger says:

    Most private charities understand that they will cease to exist if their system is gamed, so they are on guard against that. There is a stable feedback mechanism at work here.

    Public “charity”, on the other hand, thrives on the system being gamed. The feedback in this case is unstable.

  4. BaconNeggs says:

    Its not easy trying to help others when you are dealing with human vices.

    Give personally, and some people will seek you out time and again with more sad stories that only you can help, with your money.

    The State encourages Sloth and human dependency.

    Private Charities have become corrupt, with their executives drawing hundreds of thousands dollar salaries for “helping the poor and needy”.

    Its not easy helping even in Christs name.

  5. Rich says:

    Christian charity is voluntary.

    Our Republic was founded with the notion that the national government would have NO charitable like “giving.”

    That happy state exists no more.

    Now we have government taking privately earned money extra-Constitutionally at the point of a gun and threat of loss of liberty or life, and “giving” it to those it defines as needy.

    True charity and government entitlement programs have NOTHING at all in common. They could not be more antithetical.

  6. Locke n Load says:

    Kinda goes without saying but any system that removes men from a position of authority AND takes them out of the lives of their children is begging for a new authority to fill the void.

    Don’t get me wrong, men aren’t the ultimate authority but they are an INTEGRAL part of youth, especially boys, understanding the concept at all.

    Remove men from households and you get perpetual boys. Men need challenge and testosterone and defeat, but without those coming from someone they respect…well they get lost. And that need never really leaves them, they just find new examples to pattern their projections of manhood upon. They become more easily led by fools and demagogues, father figures without the emotional investment inherent in a true loving relationship.
    Witness how many black youth fall for the gang culture. How many accept, even long for, the structure it demands, the discipline.

    Govt can never properly fill this role. No village or community center will ever share that father-son link. The closest we can come is probably the military.

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