Marxists and Misers
Pope Francis created a furor with his comments about capitalism, but there ought to be no controversy at all. Christianity and, indeed, that broad moral and religious foundation of America which is rightly called Judeo-Christianity, have two compatible precepts regarding wealth and poverty. Those who are not anchored in that moral foundation are often confused, although they need not be.
Socialism is wrong. It does not matter whether socialism "works" or not. The socialism of Sweden, for example, which is incomparably better than the socialism in practice in Zimbabwe, is still based upon the same serious sin. The Decalogue -- those Ten Commandments out of 613 commandments in Torah -- comprises non-negotiable orders from God. The last of the ten is very clear: do not covet.
The rationale of using the violence of government to take from those we may think are unjustly rich and to "play God" by giving that money to those who we think are unjustly poor is grounded in the wicked act of coveting. Small surprise, then, that the distillation of sin into a political philosophy inevitably not only fails to achieve that perversity called "social justice," but also blackens the hearts of all who champion this jihad on material success.
Aside from being the Word of God, which is enough, it is worthwhile to consider that the 10th Commandment is about much more than money. Do not be jealous because your neighbor has a beautiful wife or athletic children or popularity in the neighborhood or for any other reason at all. Envy is a sin. Using force to take money from a rich neighbor because you need it is wrong in the same way that using force to possess his beautiful wife is wrong.
Marxists luxuriate in the sin of envy and compound it by blending in the sins of stealing, of murder, of perjury, and of almost everything else that God ordered us not to do. That is the answer to Marxism.
But God speaks about more than just coveting; He speaks also about charity. When Jesus said that love of money is the root of all evil, this was not something new in Judeo-Christian thought. The prophetic voices of the Old Testament, as a quick reading of Amos shows, reveal a profound revulsion for those who have much but do little to help their fellow men.
The state has no duty to help the poor. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's," but we each individually have a duty ordered by God to us to help those in need. Supporting the welfare state is simply another attempt by atheistic materialists to make the state into our only deity. We cannot "vote" politicians to create programs which replace our own responsibility to God.
These rules God gives us have a wonderful influence upon our lives. Devoutly religious people living in communities take care of those truly in need -- not thanks to the officiousness of cold bureaucrats, but rather out of the love that we are directed to have in our hearts for others. It ought not to surprise us at all that the charitable giving of social conservatives in politics almost invariably is much greater than the giving of leftist atheists.
Marxists and misers -- those who obsess about "stuff" and ignore their personal duty to others -- are two sides of the same coin. Marxists, of course, are the worse of the two, because they believe that violence and lies are justified in pursuing their pantheon of heartless deities. Misers simply think that "stuff" is all there is to life.
In politics, there is not much to say about misers. No one can compel a heart to be generous and good.
Outside the world of politics -- which we ought to hope grows to be a smaller and smaller part of our existence -- the miser who thinks only of himself is just as damned as the proto-Marxist who dwells in the dark waters of jealously. God's voice is really very clear. Our ears, however, are often closed to what He says.