Charity and Theft

We’ve heard a lot of talk lately about how we all need to kick in a little more to the government in the interest of helping the less fortunate among us. Not to private charitable organizations or churches, mind you. No, only more and larger government programs can salve the wounds of mankind and raise us from the dark ages of, say, 2005, when the federal budget was only 2.4 trillion dollars, and inner-city children were forced to eat their own iMacs to survive.

The thing is, when government types talk about giving to the needy, they’re talking about a special kind of giving that you and I know as “taxes.” It’s an enforceable kind of giving, and non-compliance can lead to confiscation of your property and prison time. Even though the government types talk like it’s a great thing, it is, at heart, a coerced kind of giving.

And here’s where the nobility of this kind of giving breaks down. You can encourage people to give to charity, and still call it charity. You can cajole them and nag them and berate them and entice them and advise them and induce them and coax them and blandish them and urge them. But if you force someone to give to charity, through threats of fines and imprisonment, no matter how noble the charity is, then that is theft, and no good will come of it.

Please remember this whenever a big government advocate starts to pound the Bible as justification for ever-higher taxes. The Bible does encourage us to care for the poor, but it also has strong admonitions against theft and, just as importantly, covetousness. How is our government doing on that lately?

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