Socialism has been the big word in the news and politics this year and those espousing the concept of making America a socialist nation have gone so far as to posit that God is a socialist and that the Bible endorses socialism. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When I was growing up in the post-World War II era and throughout the Cold War, socialism was indeed a negative word.
It was associated with names like Adolf, Josef, Benito, Nikita, Mao and the like. And along with the other economic -isms (Communism, Nazism, Fascism), socialism was just a branch of the same tree: government control of individual properties and rights.
These have been explained simply using cows: communism, one has two cows, the government takes both and gives the person some milk; fascism, one has two cows, the government takes both and sells the person some milk; socialism, one has two cows, the government takes one and gives it to the person’s neighbor. This was contrasted with capitalism, where one has two cows, one sells one and buys a bull, the herd multiplies and economy grows; the person sells the herd and retires on the income. And more recently, there’s been one more explanation: the Gen Z. One wants two cows; one purchases them on a cow-buying app; the person later realizes he or she still has to pay for them with real money and cries to Mommy and Daddy and they pay for them.
While this is very simplistic, it does show the differences between each economic system. History teaches us that there has never been a really successful socialist nation that has also had a democratic republic form of government. Indeed, it is doubtful if there has ever been a true socialist nation. Socialism professes to equalize all classes financially. Redistribution of wealth supposedly takes out the class system. But it never has; in every so-called socialist nation, there has remained the rich and powerful upper class because those with “real money” and those with the power will not relinquish those. What socialism has done is reduced the middle class by taking the middle down and raising the lower up.
Now as to God and the Bible, we can see in both the Old Testament and the New Testament the obligation was given to God’s people to take care of those truly needy, not the lazy and indolent. Widows, orphans, strangers and others with no way of taking care of themselves became the responsibility of the family, the church/temple/synagogue or the individual. This was done out of a heart of love and compassion and not because the government demanded it.
This heart of love and compassion exists today in the people of God. When disaster strikes, look to see who is first to come help: Samaritan’s Purse, the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, church and denominational disaster teams. When there is a need in a church or community, people give food, clothing and money, not because they have to but because God’s love flows through them.
This love goes to the really needy, including those who have lost jobs and loved ones, those whose health has worsened, the widows who have no one to support them and orphans both at home and abroad. God’s people give time and goods to food kitchens, clothing to giveaway closets and money to many service organizations. Again, this is not because we have to, but because God’s love to us cannot be contained in our hearts and must flow out of us to others.
This is compassion; this is love. This is not socialism. There are many Bible verses dealing with money; some Bible scholars say it’s the second-most-discussed topic. We see compassion in the story of Ruth gleaning in the field of Boaz, and Jesus commenting on the widow giving all she had compared to the rich giving a small portion. But the Bible teaches wise stewardship along with generosity and never teaches anything akin to socialism.
The Bible says this: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” (II Thessalonians 3:10-12)
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (I Timothy 5:8)
It’s easy to take the Bible out of context. I’ve heard a number of our current candidates for major office do this.
So let us go back to the Book and what it really says and live by its commands and principles. God a socialist? The Bible teaching socialism? No, and those who posit that are ignorant of the Bible, history and economics.