Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:10
The US House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture recently discussed whether or not the SNAP program (formerly known as Food Stamps) should be seriously reduced or eliminated.
Bible verses were used to stabilize arguments on both sides. Some arguing that we should care for “the least of these.” On the other hand, Congressman Fincher is quoted as stating, “… Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”
This offers us, regular folks, a great chance to see how the scriptures come to play in the development of public policy. In 2012, SNAP received $81 Billion dollars to help tackle the hunger problem in this country.
Paul did say in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” It was said to address a very specific malady.
When weekly offerings were received, they were taken to support those for whom nothing is prepared. It was received to support those who lost everything because of the persecution levied against the church.
In Thessaloniki, there was great persecution, so much so that Christians thought the Rapture had occurred and they got left behind to endure what seemed to already be ‘The Great Tribulation.’
Yet, even under real and tumultuous conditions, there were a few Christians who voluntarily stopped working because the church had a mechanism to care for people without jobs. To leave your job in order to live off the offerings given by the church is evil and has no place in the kingdom.
Government bears the responsibility to carry the burdens that we the people can’t or should not carry. No single family, group, or state should or could provide for the common defense of our union. No single state should own the roads used to transport goods across the country. No single entity should have charge over the health and welfare of the citizenry. That's why we pay taxes, to express our desire to support the projects too big for any one person, group, or state to contend with.
Hunger in the U.S. affects children, the elderly, single parent families, the mentally ill, and the working poor more than any other category of people. It is a problem, no matter how it was created, that is too big for us to solve. In fact, churches are encouraged to help the poor.
Furthermore, churches should receive the support of businesses and individuals to support people who have fallen on hard times and help them reintegrate into the mainstream because the church has its fingers on the pulse of the people daily.
The most efficient way to treat hunger in America is to subsidize those for whom nothing is provided. We are the largest economy in the world and the richest country on earth. It is plainly selfish and ungodly (know right and not doing it) to deny food to hungry people.
WFA (waste, fraud, and abuse) must be resolved, but it is not a reason to reduce the funding for the entire program. We are not going to get rid of Medicare because doctors double dip the system. The point is to help people that really need help.
It is just as evil to deny federal funding (based on my argument above) to those who actually need help as it is for people to game the system to avoid working. Furthermore, Congressman Fincher is a person of power and used the Holy Scripture to present an argument that God seems to be uncaring, which is far from the truth.
Congressman Fincher seemed to strike a ‘deep’ chord in people (me included) that resist this type of judgmental attitude. It reads (to me) as a rich and powerful person saying, "Let 'em starve," and using the Bible to support his point.
Elder Jason Malveaux is an associate minister at Bethesda Temple Church Apostolic Faith, Inc., in Los Angeles.