Faith, Economics, and Foreign Policy
One single matter perhaps most negatively endangers our economy right now in America: the national debt.
The national debt has grown to a figure that is almost intellectually incomprehensible. This astronomical debt is not a sin, but it puts us in a very difficult position. Proverbs 22:7 says that “the borrower is servant to the lender.” Not only are we servant to someone other than God, but we are not able to obey Romans 13:8, which says we are to “owe no man anything, but to love one another.” “In debt” is not a good place to be.
Of course, the question that quickly follows that statement is, how can America address this?
First, we need to have leaders in place who realize that we can’t spend more than we bring in without eventually experiencing bankruptcy. Second, the solution is not to print more money. Every additional dollar printed devalues the dollars already in circulation. Third, the solution is also not to increase taxes. Taxation is unable to do anything to reduce debt.
Only one thing will reduce expenses: reducing the size of government and all of the bureaucracies that have been established to regulate and administer entitlement programs. This also means we need to reduce entitlement programs themselves. This isn’t a politically popular viewpoint, but it is an important step that needs to be taken, and we need to have a leader who recognizes this and will do something about it.
Capitalism vs. Socialism
Generally speaking, the economic issues facing America are a contest between two different paradigms: the socialist economic philosophy and the free enterprise paradigm (capitalism).
Capitalism protects and highly values the right of individual choice and the pursuit of economic liberty. As I stated in my message on social issues, God labors to protect the expression of our free moral agency at all costs. That includes personal economic expression, such as business decisions, entrepreneurial ventures, and initiative to experience greater economic liberty.
Socialism, on the other hand, seeks to gain for its citizenry economic parity through wealth redistribution. It creates an economy in which government controls all production through regulation and controls all distribution through taxation funded entitlement programs.
Some regulation is necessary because the general public needs to be protected from the corruption wealth can generate in a natural man’s life. Antitrust legislation is a good example of this. Conversely, regulation can quickly grow to become unmanageable. As regulation grows, government bureaucracy grows in order to administer that regulation. All of this increases the tax burden dramatically to the American public.
Are Entitlement Programs Working?
Regarding entitlement programs, we should provide help to people who encounter a real crisis. The problem is that our current entitlement programs have grown out of proportion. Some of these programs are escalatory at a rate that is not fundable.
Entitlement programs are the greatest form of captivity people can enter into: it causes them to become dependent on the government in order to make ends meet. In addition to that, these programs provide no incentive for someone in need to get back into productive labor. They disincentivize hard work and give the government control over individuals’ lives with very little in return to the individual.
In essence, entitlement programs make individuals dependent on government instead of God and robs them of any hope of experiencing the American dream.
(Note: Social Security is not an entitlement program. It is your money that comes out of your paycheck and you should rightfully receive it. Also, I do believe that individuals should have the right to choose how to invest their Social Security reserves.)
How People’s Needs Can Be Met
The question may cross your mind: if the government shouldn’t help everyone, who should?
Look at Ephesians 4:28.
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
When we put God’s economic system to work and labor at that which is good, God guarantees us a good wage, one that is sufficient to meet all of our needs and have something left over. Some of what is leftover is “seed,” which is money to give to the church to support the preaching of the Gospel.
The only way human need is met is through the Word of God. The Word of God delivers, saves, and brings provision. When Jesus met physical need in the Word, it was for the ultimate purpose of getting the Word into individuals’ lives so they had a way to rise above the challenges they face.
In essence, what God is saying is that Christians—and churches, in particular—can address the need of those in distress by being evangelistic through faith-based initiatives. The church can utilize natural need being met to expose people to the Word, which is where need is genuinely met.
As I close on the issue of economics, it’s important to recognize that Ephesians 4:28 shows us the socialist philosophy for our economy is counter to the precept of God’s Word. I encourage you to keep this in mind when you head to the polls and vote.
I want to address one other area of political issues from a scriptural perspective: foreign policy. When it comes to international matters and our relationships with other nations, our foreign policy initiatives need to be aligned with the Word of God. Genesis 12:1–3 says:
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
The cornerstone of our foreign policy should be blessing Israel. If we do that, God says He will bless us in return. This is one of the few promises of blessing that is not covenant related; that’s how highly God values our understanding and appreciation of this principle.
Let me quickly debunk a myth about this command to bless Israel. Many people have decided that America has replaced Israel in the plan of God. This idea stems from something called “replacement theology,” which suggests that the church or Christianity has replaced Judaism.
Nothing could be further from the truth. God established an everlasting covenant with Abraham that is still in effect today. Plus, God is immutable: God hasn’t changed His mind about Israel. Israel was, is, and always will be the apple of His eye.
I realize America is dealing with other nations in seemingly unrelated issues and matters of great importance that have little or nothing to do with Israel, but the principle we’re looking at is that if America blesses Israel, God is going to ensure our relationships with other nations succeed to a degree that they otherwise would not.
We need to recognize the place that Israel has in the heart of God. It is an imperative for us as a nation to understand that a strong foreign policy begins with blessing Israel.
Of course, the question arises, “How do we bless Israel?” Well, Christians first need to recognize the present-day validity of Israel’s covenant with God. Recognize that they are closer to us than any other nation on this earth because we have a spiritual commonality with them that we don’t have with anybody else. We should be most interested in protecting them and doing everything we can do to enhance the viability of their national sovereignty.
We also bless Israel by not forcing our American will upon them in national decisions. We should not decide or dictate how they’re going to live their lives. For example, whether or not you believe the people of Israel should give away land for peace, they have a right to choose their own destiny just as we as Americans have the right to choose our own destiny. We should respect that and simply be the best ally we can be to them. That’s when we’re going to find that all of our negotiations with other nations on this earth are going to be more blessed and more productive.
Finally, if these scriptural guidelines will be in our minds and in our hearts when we go to the polling place, we’ve done our part to promote God’s purpose for America.