Marxist beliefs (Part 4)

This series on Marxism’s view of the future concludes with the real problem with humanity–sin.

People often misquote Scripture and say, “Money is the root of all evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10 actually says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” This verse says the problem really isn’t money; it is the love of money. In addition, it says that love is a root of all kinds of evil, not the root of all evil. Our sinful nature places many things before God, whether it is an idol, our pride, or our pocketbook. However, Marxists believe that money itself is the problem, and that if we had a classless society, instead of haves and have-nots, life would by idyllic. Is that the real problem—money? Or is it something else—the sinful nature of all people, rich and poor, when we don’t live according to God’s ways?

With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, many people thought Communism was dead. Although still used politically in a handful of countries that account for 20% of the world’s population (China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam), Marxism is still alive and well in other forms, most notably economics. Whether it is government sponsored healthcare or financial bailouts, Dr. David Noebel points out: “Forcing every segment of society onto the lap of the federal government where the State makes all decisions is undeniably another guise for Communism.”

He goes on to say that such policies are repackaged as Socialism, Collectivism, Statism, or Progressivism. Remember that, according to Marxism, the real problem with the world isn’t sinful people, but rich people.  But this begs a question: how much is too much? In other words, at which income level does one become rich?

If systems are in place where some prosper economically and others not, there will always be oppression of the poor. Therefore, economic revolution is needed to achieve class equality. An example is the Occupy Wall Street movement that would have business put “people before profits” and dismantle capitalism.

So without the violent overthrow of governments and subsequent executions, what’s the harm in embracing socialism? Because God created us to work—we are made in His image and commanded to produce things. It is in our nature.

Remember that Adam was made to take care of the garden as a job before the Fall into sin. Genesis 2:15 says, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” He then told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and increase in number…to fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). God told the first couple that they had two purposes. The first was to have children. That’s the foundation of marriage and families for today. The second was to build societies, whether it is by farming, doing business, or making things.

Socialism encourages people to get something for nothing, from the fruits of other people’s labors. That’s why in many Scriptures God calls us not be lazy, but to work hard; for example, Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth,” and 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” Yet it is the collapse of these two foundations, marriage and work, that lead to poverty.

In 2011, the Census Bureau reported that 15% of Americans (46 million out of 309 million) were poor. But what does being “poor” mean? In the United States, poverty for a family of four is defined as earning less than $23,050. Mention the word “poverty” and images come to mind: little to no food, clothing or shelter. In reality, only a small number of the poor fit that description according to the Heritage Foundation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 96% of poor parents say their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they couldn’t afford food. Moreover, government surveys show that poor children receive about the same average of protein, vitamins, and minerals as middle-class children. TV newscasts often portray the poor as homeless. The actual facts are far different: over the course of a year, just 4% of poor persons in the U.S. become temporarily homeless. By contrast, 90 % live in single-family detached houses, townhouses, or apartments. Furthermore, the poor in America have many material possessions: 80% have air conditioning; nearly 75% have a car or truck; nearly 66% have cable or satellite television; and 50% have a personal computer. Take the poor’s income, food, shelter, and possessions to many other countries, and they are classified as rich. So if the majority of poor in America are not suffering starvation and homelessness, then what is the problem?

Two concepts that have failed are people’s work ethic and marriage. Even in the best of economic times, some work very little. Furthermore, marriage has collapsed in low-income communities. When President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” began in 1964, 7% of children were born outside marriage; today, the rate is 42%. The main cause of child poverty and welfare dependence today is the absence of marriage. What can be done? President Johnson’s original goal in 1964 was noble. His actual goal was to increase self-sufficiency in future generations, so Americans could lift themselves out of poverty without government handouts. Sadly, the welfare system is not doing that today. It has become an alternative to being self-sufficient, destroying work and the family structure. Rather than helping the poor, the welfare state has hurt them with a growth of dependency on the government. The Heritage Foundation states that work is key.

Even more important is the restoration of healthy families. 1 Timothy 5:8 warns, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” When a husband is devoted to one wife and one family, he is motivated to work, save, and prosper on their behalf. Churches need to teach what being a good worker and parent looks like. Both of these are God’s cultural mandate from the Creation of the world.

Sadly, the world that God created fell into sin; this imperfect world includes those who are poor. Ecclesiastes 9:11 states it this way: “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise, or wealth to the brilliant, or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” So the reality of poverty, and how to address it in Israel, was stated in Deuteronomy 15:11. God told the Israelites, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” Even Jesus admitted the reality of those in need and the remedy by saying in Mark 14:7, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.” But notice in both Old and New Testament passages, the followers of God are called to address poverty by their own charitable giving, not by government mandate.

Some people mistakenly believe that the Bible supports communism. In Acts 2:44-45 it says, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” Isn’t this an endorsement of the communist ideal of a classless society? The answer is no—this is not government induced wealth redistribution, but Christians voluntarily giving of their own free will. This is consistent with God’s plan for helping those in need: the believers should freely give a portion of their income to aid others. In the Old Testament, God told Israel to keep 90% of the fruit of their labor, but to give the tithe, or 10%, to the work of the Lord. Leviticus 27:30 says, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” In addition, 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Welfare is actually provided by the Church, not the State.

So besides instruction on being a productive member of society and being a godly parent, the Church can continue to provide material blessings to those in need. Money is not the root of all evil. The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Instead of looking into other people’s pocketbooks in covetousness, we should look in the mirror and see our sinfulness. The remedy for sin is Christ. What’s more, God gives us practical ways to avoid poverty and help the poor in Scripture. That’s the answer.

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February 04, 2020

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