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Monday, September 24, 2012

Pastorgraphs: “Promoting the General Welfare”

E-Vangel Newsletter
September 24, 2012

Pastorgraphs: “Promoting the General Welfare”

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a Pastorgraph that asked, “When did JUSTICE, particularly social justice, become a dirty word?” Well, here I go again. When did WELFARE become a dirty word?

[Disclaimer: I’m neither Democrat or Republican. But I’m quite sure just using certain words like justice and welfare will inflame the passions of those on the extremes. Too sad we cannot carry on a civil discussion without calling out the big guns. Sorry if what I am about to say raises your blood pressure.]

Looks to me like the Founding Fathers thought WELFARE was a pretty good idea; a “founding principle” of the government (right there in the Preamble to the Constitution).

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice,
insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defense,
promote the general Welfare,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Wikipedia defines WELFARE as “the provision of a minimal level of wellbeing and social support for all citizens. … this term replaces "charity" as it was known for thousands of years, being the voluntary act of providing for those who temporarily or permanently could not.”

Here is how I see it: In addition to losing civility in our national dialog, we have also lost our sense of CHARITY. Isn’t CHARITY “The Greatest of These” that Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 13? (Faith, Hope, and CHARITY) Isn’t CHARITY synonymous with LOVE?

Sure, I do not believe WELFARE should be a means to keep able bodied people from work. And yes, I’m informed about how the term “general welfare” has been interpreted and reinterpreted by the courts.

I also know that what many call WELFARE is what keeps our senior citizens (me included now), our veterans, our students, our farmers, and many who are down-and-out, looking for a hand up, not a hand out, able to lead productive lives. Without that help, the general WELFARE would be degraded, and everyone would be the worse off. The truth is that many of the richest in our society also get deductions, write offs, and WELFARE benefits from our government. I heard a respected economist say last week that those whom some think of as “free-loaders” on WELFARE constitute less than 1% of the WELFARE dollars our government spends.

I caution us all, liberal, moderate, conservative, to take care that we don’t “write off” or “discount” folks, particularly the poor. Read again Matthew 25 (not the part about the apocalypse) but the part about how we treat the hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, sick and strangers in our midst. It is the only entrance exam into heaven.

Are some of the folks we help feed or clothe lazy? Maybe a few. But what is far worse is NOT GIVING A HOOT about them.

It is when we lose our compassion about the WELFARE of our neighbor’s  body, soul and spirit that we lose our moral conscience, our CHARITY, our LOVE. And when that happens, we are in deep spiritual trouble.

So, I second the Founding Fathers’ idea: Promoting the GENERAL WELFARE is a noble and appropriate role of our “more perfect Union”.

Brother Bill

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205

From the Quote Garden:
~ Helen Keller

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