The Need for a Defense of Charity Act (pt. 2)

Changing the meaning of the word “charity:”  I need not look any further than Ayn Rand’s own words:

My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.[1]

These words from a (probably the) most important political theorist for the so-called conservative movement show us immediately not only how opposed this philosophy is to our Christian heritage, but more importantly how this secular philosophy seeks to change the meaning of my relationship with my neighbor.  The Bible tells us clearly that charity is absolutely the most important thing.  Consider Matt 5:43-48, where Jesus tells us to “be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect;”  love your enemies, do good to everyone, and don’t ask who is “worthy of the help.”  It’s no wonder Rand despised religion!  Her conservative values and the political movement they inspire today are the very opposite of our Christian heritage.  Jesus describes the kingdom of Heaven as a great wedding banquet where everyone is invited (Luke 14:12-24); but today some people want to make it some sort of tea party where only the right sort of people are allowed, the ones who can help you socially and invite you to parties of their own.  The generosity that the Bible says is the most important thing in the world, today’s modern Sodomites want to say is “a marginal issue”!  (Compare James 1:27)

When the Randian sodomites change the meaning of the word “charity,” they change the meaning of my charity.  Charity is supposed to be a marriage of opposites:  rich and poor.  It is not a purely arbitrary arrangement between two people who are basically the same for their own pleasure and convenience; it is based on the differences between them.  The rich are to provide the capital that is the seed of industry; the poor provide the labor, and together they give birth to wealth (perhaps that’s why they call it “labor”).  Without the poor to do the work, there is no wealth and hence no wealthy persons; without the wealthy to hire and pay and invest and develop, there is no work to do, or only the barest of subsistence hunting and gathering.  The economic sodomites claim that the poor are waging class warfare and that they will destroy the rich; but historically we can see that generally it goes the other way around.  This is also what Scripture teaches:

In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor— let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.  For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart, those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord. (Ps. 10:2-3)

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.  May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.  May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.  May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor…..  For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.  He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.  From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.  (Ps. 72:  1-4, 12-14)

The field of the poor may yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice. (Prov. 13:23)

But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?  (James 2:6-7)

The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts. (Isa 3:14-15)

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?  (Isa 58:6-7)

Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals—  they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way; father and son go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned;  they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink wine bought with fines they imposed.  (Amos 2:6-8)

Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts  (James 5:4)

So it is clear from the Word of God that the poor need far more protection from the injustice of the rich, than do the rich from the poor.  There are many passages that speak of the oppression of the poor by the rich, or the wise by fools, or the poor wise man by the rich fool; there is almost nothing of what we hear so much of today, about how the rich are being robbed and oppressed and enslaved by the poor.  In fact, given what the clear Word of God tells us in loud cries and thunderings, we should probably be asking if God hates the rich!  But a closer examination reveals that this too is mistaken.  After all, God blessed Solomon with wealth as well as wisdom.  Wealth is said to come from God, and sometimes poverty is said to come from sloth or dishonesty.  It is clear that the Bible assumes that there will always be economic disparities.  What God demands is that we treat these disparities as opportunities to serve one another, not as excuses to condemn.  Christ said that whatever we do to the least of our neighbors, we do to Him; so the one who serves the poor serves Christ (see Matt. 25:31-46).  At the same time, when the rich one shares with the poor, that rich one does the work of Christ on Earth.  So in the giving and the receiving, each finds Christ in the other.  And in giving with humble generosity and thanking with humble gratitude, each finds God personally.[2]

The Rand-postmodern individualist agenda turns the marriage between rich and poor, ordained by God to be an equalizing relationship bringing the different sides together, into a matter of personal comfort and convenience only.  The relationship that should have been the foundation of society becomes just an idle fancy, and matter of personal individual rights rather than social responsibility—as Rand said herself, and as the conservative Sodomites who follow her in worshipping the calf of gold continue to say.  The entire meaning of “charity,” and “generosity” and “almsgiving” and every other related concept is completely turned upside down.  These people should not be allowed to take the sacred bond of charity from us and turn it into an excuse for individual self-indulgence.  This is one reason why it is so important to have a Defense of Charity Act.


[1] Ayn Rand, interview with Alvin Toffler, Playboy 1964 (http://www.ellensplace.net/ar_pboy.html) accessed September 3, 2011.

[2] Søren Kierkegaard, “Every Good Gift and Every Perfect Gift is From Above,” in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, edited and translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, with introduction and notes (Princeton NJ:  Princeton University Press, 1990) pp. 152-153

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