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Charity

February 25, 2010

Have you ever wondered about the fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals? Have you said to yourself, “Gosh darn and doggone it, why are people so disagreeable when it comes to politics?"—or something along those lines but less Sarah Palin-ish?

Turns out there’s a simple explanation.

If we sneak past the emotional caricatures we draw of each other and stop hating each other for a minute we find a seemingly-innocuous but important dispute about the concept of charity. This dispute is the crux of disagreements between the political right and the political left.

While conservatives are against government giveaways, it’s not because they want the poor and needy to be denied—in fact, conservatives give away a higher percentage of their incomes than liberals (something which is inevitably an embarrassment to Democrats when they run for national office and have to admit their stinginess in financial disclosures).

Conversely, while liberals support government giveaways, it’s not because they have an irrational love affair with bureaucracy—their support is a reflection of their innate desire to help the less fortunate, the same thing which motivates conservative giving.

So what’s the difference?

Unfortunately, liberals’ good will is twisted and ruined by misinterpretation of the meaning of charity, and it is this ruination that differentiates them from conservatives. Liberals are people who operate under the delusion that charity can be enforced by legislative fiat. They could not be more wrong. Charity must be voluntary or it is not charity.
“Charity is a virtue which, when our affections are perfectly ordered, unites us to God, for by it we love Him.” – St. Augustine
A few weeks ago, conservative talk radio host Lars Larsen had a guest on his show who was a pastor. This pastor authored a book about charity and he was on the show explaining why Christian charity demands that we enact a system of national healthcare. I wish I could remember who he was so I could call him out by name—the man had me literally yelling at my car radio.

It is inconceivable to me that a man can call himself a Christian pastor while misunderstanding this key aspect of Christian faith.

Dictionary definitions of charity use words like “generous,” “give,” “sympathy,” “benevolent,” “kindness,” and (most importantly) “love”—words which describe Godly feelings toward recipients. None of those words are necessarily applicable when a government official uses threat of force to collect taxes from one somebody in order to give the proceeds to another somebody.

For Bible translators, both “charity” and “love” are linguistically acceptable interpretations of the Greek word “agape,” which means that charity isn’t simply dependent upon love, it literally is love. You can’t divorce the two because they are one and the same.

You cannot have charity without love by definition.

Hey, I’m not splitting hairs over small potatoes while jumping to conclusions off a mountain I made out of molehill simply because I get a kick out of being a know-it-all. Not on your life. (Idioms—aren’t they great? I get carried away sometimes.) The point being made here is critical to understanding the social, political, and spiritual warfare going on around us.

“What warfare is that?” you ask.

There have always been people who war against God, since the beginning, and even a casual student of the 20th century can see that the left has more than its share of those people. From the communists of Stalin and Mao to the socialists of Nazi Germany to American liberals in college faculties or the ACLU, the left aligns itself against God in general and Christianity in particular.

In the Christian faith, charity is considered the highest form of love because charity is a manifestation of the love between God and man. It’s important, even crucial, and that’s why the left so badly wants to undermine it. By using the language of charity to define something which in so many ways is the very opposite of charity, liberals twist the definition of the greatest of the three graces.
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” – 1 Cor. 13:13
Liberals' twisted definition becomes a weapon which is used against charity in three ways: number one, it pretends to raise government action to the level of Christian grace; number two, it replaces real charity financially by confiscating the money that people have available for giving; and number three, it replaces real charity psychologically by convincing people that charitable needs are the duty of government.

Stuff like this is why Revelations refers to Satan as “the deceiver.”

Hey, I’m way too insecure about my moral scorecard to wax self-righteousness, and sprinkling religious and Biblical quotations into my writing makes me wonder if lightning will come through the ceiling and smite me. When somebody calls me a good man, I wallow in pride for days, not because I think the label is accurate but rather because I’m so afraid it’s not—I figure I better enjoy the good press while I can.

Nevertheless, whatever my own state of grace, I know that it takes more than a transfer of funds to qualify something as charity and I know that government transfers of wealth masquerading as charity rob both the payer and the receiver of the enormous spiritual benefits which come from actual, real, God-inspired charity.

If people support national healthcare or government welfare or any other type of liberal political program and have valid intellectual reasons for that support, well, that would be a different story. We accept and engage with honest disagreement in a free society.

Unfortunately, liberals relish every opportunity they get to justify their political positions by pretending that their various and sundry government programs are charitable, and then carry the dishonesty even further by accusing conservatives who oppose the programs of being un-charitable.

So the difference between conservatives and liberals is caused by a lie about the nature of a virtue.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. “ – First Corinthians, Chapter 13



From Reno, Nevada, USA

February 2, 2012 - Charity is much more than monetary giving. It is truly love in the Agape sense. Not romantic, but the love and care of your fellow humans. When you pray for others, that is charity, as much as a donation. But the reality is that sometimes the charity needs to be material. Food, clothing, shelter, medical care. Offered without expectation of return or to advance one’s own standing. That clearly is NOT the way the government does it, and certainly not the way of most Democrats (the Ted Kennedy Center; The MLK Memorial etc.) - sa_rose, IHTM

February 2, 2012 - Brilliantly put, and easy enough for anyone to understand. Well, almost anyone, except you know who and their kind. - Babydoll102187, IHTM



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