True Christian Charity

Christians who contend that a charitable nation like United States is obligated to care for the sick and poor as Jesus commanded should read their Bible more carefully. Nations, like corporations, political parties, armies, universities, Boy Scout troops, churches, organizations of whatever stripe cannot be charitable, anymore than they can be kind, loving, have sex, procreate, feel pleasure or pain, because collectively they are not constituted of flesh and blood. The human beings who comprise organizations may, indeed, be very charitable and even saintly individually, but when formally coming together they become a different animal. History repeatedly shows that when organizations pretend to be endowed with a human heart, their intended good deeds often take a undesirable twist.

Consider how a sizeable part of our tax money allocated for welfare programs is actually spent on salaries and pensions for the bureaucrats running the programs. Or how the food and supplies purchased by charitable organizations to ship to needy people in underdeveloped countries is usually confiscated at the port of entry and resold by the dictator in power. The proceeds are then used by the dictator and his henchmen to finance their lavish lifestyle, or invest in arms to further oppress their people. Sure, some of that financial and material help is bound to trickle down to the needy, and the kindly souls who contribute to the organizations can enjoy some measure of satisfaction, feel good about themselves by proxy, at least for a while. But that is not exactly what Jesus had in mind. Charity to him were individual acts by which givers and receivers formed lasting physical and spiritual bonds. Person to person, neighbor-to-neighbor directly, not indirectly through a third party or an organization.

Injunctions to that effect are common throughout the Old Testament. But in this Blogger’s opinion the premier story of charity, kindness and love, not only in the Old Testament but in the whole of world literature, is The Book of Ruth. Even the most hardened of atheists would tend to agree.

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