Saturday, March 7, 2009

Is Government Robin Hood?


Given our current economical situation and new presidential administration, the term “redistribution of wealth” has been publicized. This of course is not a new issue. The Governments role in economical issues is a fundamental debate between the two political parties.

But what is the purpose of government form a Biblical worldview? If you're a Christian, that means you seek to understand the world the way God does and you conduct your life according to God's priorities. And if you’re a Christian living a biblical life, then God's purposes for government should be a concern.

In Romans 13:3-4 we read these statements:

"Rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it [authority] is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil." (NASB)

So, what is the goal of government? The main purpose of government is to exercise justice as the arm of God. It’s for the punishment of evil-doers and the praise of those who do right. That's the main purpose, justice. No mention of a money issue.

In 1Timothy 2:2 it states:

"Pray for kings and all who are in authority in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." (NASB)

Why are we to pray for out leaders? So that they will provide an atmosphere of tranquility and quietness, so that we may live in godliness and dignity. There is no mention of money issues here either.

Recently, I saw another image of President Obama depicted to look like Robin Hood. This particular image was shown by protesters to the president’s economical plans.
Others, however, agree with Obama’s notion of using government to redistribute wealth. It’s thought to be an issue of fairness that the government take money from the rich and give to the poor. Just like the heroic Robin Hood.

But what did Robin Hood actually do?

The government had extorted money from the people. The government took it from them through unfair taxation. Robin Hood simply took it back.

The people who had the money were the rich, who were associated with government. These people used the machinery of government for illicit and unjust purposes and made the middle class poor through stealing their money.

Robin Hood stole from the rich and give it back to the people it had been taken from that were now poor. He did not take from the rich and give to the poor. He took from the government who stole it from the middle class, making them poor, and returned it to the rightful owners. This was not leveling the social playing field this was returning money back into the hands of the rightful owners. To make President Obama out like Robin Hood on either side of the argument does not seem to be an accurate parallel.

Scripturally, the purpose of government is actually narrow. But it is clear the goal of government is to do justice, not injustice.

The goal of government is not to redistribute wealth who earned it. In many cases, if not all, government has been illicit in its power to take from people and give it to others. That’s not charity, that's theft and that’s unjust.

When it comes to taking care of the poor I think it's the purpose of the church to help the poor. I also think it's a moral responsibility, if not obligation, for individuals to voluntarily help the poor.

Remember in Acts 5 when the church was sharing all things. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit concerning how much they sold their possession for and died as a result. They were not punished by God because they didn’t give a particular amount of money. They were punished because they lied about what they were giving.

Peter said and interesting thing in verse 4 when confronting Ananias:

“The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was yours to give away...” (NLT)

We have a moral responsibility to care for the poor and not to be greedy. However, the choice is up to you and the government should not force people to be charitable.

Government is not the answer to these problems. It may be valuable for the government to be involved to some degree. But the answer I believe is in morality and personal responsibility.

2 comments:

charkle said...

These days it certainly seems that government thinks they are 'Robin Hood'...socialism here we come!

Brad said...

Charkle,

I believe I understand what you intend to mean. But as I pointed out, Robin Hood gave money back to the poor that the poor originally OWNED but had it taken away by the government and the rich.

What we see today is taxing the rich, not the poor, and taking what belongs to the rich and redistributing it to people who it doesn’t belong to. So our current government and Robin Hood are actually false comparisons.