It is a bit of a discouragement to see that, in the current race for president, the failed, discredited and damaging doctrine of socialism is being regarded favorably. It is even more discouraging to realize many decades of indoctrination have made socialism much more than a passing fad but have actually elevated it to a level of respectability it does not deserve.
I write a faith column. But the book I have devoted my life to is not just spiritual, but also incredibly practical. The Bible will teach you how to be saved and will also deal with subjects like intimacy, gambling, work, rest, nutrition and even good government. And it is the subject of good government that is currently on my mind.
Scripture gives an illustration of what many erroneously view as socialism. Acts 4:32 says, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.”
The item that makes this anything but socialism is a little thing called “choice.” This arrangement was utterly voluntary; there was no coercion to it at all. It was also very temporary, but that is a matter for another day. The salient point is that nothing in solid Scriptural hermeneutics gives so much as a fig leaf of respectability to the naked wickedness of socialism.
Merriam Webster defines socialism as 1) any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods 2) a system of society or group living in which there is no private property, a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state 3) a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.
Those definitions make certain tenets of socialism clear. Socialism destroys the right to private property, uses the sword of government to coerce everyone to participate, doles out to people what the central planners think they need, and is merely a stepping-stone to eventual communism.
This utopian theory has been tried and failed miserably, many times. Simply put, theft is still theft even if it is legally voted on, and people who find themselves on the other end of the theft do not appreciate it.
If socialism were applied to other areas of life, it would perhaps be more clearly understood for the evil it is. What if, for instance, we applied it to women? Perhaps we should “redistribute” the attractive wives of stars and athletes. Why should some people be “more privileged” than others? What if we were to set up a central control that would dole out attractive women to all men equally? Can you imagine the howls of protest?
“Government should never take a woman from a man and hand her over to another man; he worked hard to earn her love, leave them alone!”
And that is correct. But the same government that has no business taking a woman from one man and giving her to another man, or a good grade from a hard working student and handing it out to a lesser student, also has no business taking a dollar or anything else from one man and “redistributing” it to another.
Private property rights are taught all throughout the Bible and are at the very foundation of our Constitutional Republic. America did not become great by a philosophy of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” America became great in an extremely short period of time because people were free to aspire to greatness without fear of jealous others voting themselves a generous portion of the fruits of their labors.
Proverbs 10:4 put it this way, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” The socialist Bible, if there is such a thing, would probably render that verse this way: “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but rather than teach the slack hand to be diligent, rather than giving him the assurance that he can be one of the many rags to riches accounts our history is filled with, we will teach him how to use government to redistribute the wealth of those who were diligent. Rather than directing everyone upward toward greatness, we will force everyone downward into mediocrity.”
One last thing. Jesus himself said, “The poor you have with you always.” But in America, capitalism, not socialism, has produced a nation where even our poor normally carry cell phones, eat better than most of the rest of the world, live in air conditioned dwellings, and have enough money left over to pay for the cable or satellite TV that is carrying the liberal siren songs that are promoting our journey toward the rocky crags of a Marxist society.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist, and author of several books, including a kid’s fiction book about the Battle of Chickamauga, “Broken Brotherhood.” He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.