the secularization of social assistance

Cezanne, “The Bay from L’Estaque”

The fourth in last question raised in my prior post, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Car Loans” was this: what should the church’s response be to the secularization of social assistance programs?

First, we the church ought to call for authentic diversity. False diversity says this: “Any view is okay, as long as it doesn’t make claims impinging on the rights of any other view.” This is why a Bhuddist like Wayne Dyer can appear in government-funded PBS specials but a Christian cannot. True diversity, on the other hand, says this: “The free market of ideas should be just that: free for everyone.”

Second, we the church ought to engage our communities in practical ministry. The biggest social problems are not financial but relational. Who is better positioned than the church to meet these relational needs? We just need to make time for it and get started.

Third, we the church ought to be raising public policy questions. Is it right that Planned Parenthood gets privileged government status but that Right to Life Groups do not? Are massive government social welfare programs helping the poor, or hurting them?

Let’s not be embarrassed by our Christian commitment but rather live out this commitment with both tenacity and grace. This Sunday’s New Testament reading, 11 Cor. 5:6-17 includes these words: “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.” May our love, good deeds, and words persuade our family, friends, and acquaintances that we have indeed been touched by a righteousness that is truly wonderful, even as displayed through our own flawed expressions.


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