By now probably everyone has noticed the huge uptick in national discussion about socialism. One of the major parties is featuring presidential candidates openly declaring themselves as socialists, something which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Our young people are being told that socialism is the wave of the future, and that capitalism as we have long known it in our country is outdated and immoral. A couple of recent quotations from Democrat Presidential candidates illustrate what we are facing:
“To me, what socialism means is to guarantee a basic level of dignity. It’s asserting the value of saying that the America we want and the America that we are proud of is one in which all children can access a dignified education. It’s one in which no person is too poor to have the medicines they need to live.” — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy.” — Bernie Sanders
Without politicizing these remarks, or the political party they represent, it is important to recognize that there are some biblical principles at play in this discussion. God’s word has something to say about the issues currently being debated by our people.
The Bible teaches the value and importance of honest labor and hard work. When God created the first man, he did not leave him idle or unprofitable. He gave him the job of being fruitful and multiplying, tending the garden of Eden, and naming all the animals of the earth. Later, when men became too concentrated, refusing to settle the earth as God commanded, and engaged in a profitless, arrogant venture, God ended it by confusing human language at the tower of Babel. In the New Testament, Paul affirmed again that God expects his people to be engaged in honest labor, profitable, productive. “If any will not work, neither let him eat,” (2 Thess. 3:10). “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your hands, even as we charged you; that ye may walk becomingly toward them that are without, and may have need of nothing,” (1 Thess. 4:11-12). “But if any provideth not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever,” (1 Tim. 5:8). “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need,” (Eph. 4:28).
These passages teach the opposite of relying on government or “the wealthy” for our needs. They require individual, honest labor “with our own hands,” not with the hands of others. We are doing a great disservice to our young people by suggesting that they can have free education, free medical care, etc. because someone else is going to pay for it. The Christian mindset is just the opposite: “I am going to work diligently so that I may pay for the needs of myself and others.”
When young people are encouraged to expect favors and handouts from the government or other classes of people, they inevitably are in for disappointment. We have seen this played out over and over in recent generations. Those who partake most deeply of social welfare and “democratic socialism” end up being the most discontented and angry citizens. It is never enough, there is always a need and inpatient desire for more.
Americans have consistently been among the most generous and giving people in all the earth, and have risen to unparalleled heights in creativity and productivity. Socialism destroys the incentive for individual hard work and generosity. It undermines the industry and benevolence which has characterized the people of our nation since it’s inception. As Winston observed, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
I would argue that the thing which has made capitalism so successful throughout America’s history is its infusion with Christian principles. Not only have our people been incentivized to work diligently and be productive, they have been guided by God’s word to be generous and benevolent to those in need. To the extent that our people have gotten away from those biblical principles, we have seen a deterioration in the culture, and economic alternatives begin to seem more attractive, especially to the young and inexperienced. Democratic socialism is one of those alternatives, currently in vogue, but ultimately ungodly and destructive.
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.