After hearing two sides to an argument recently, both sides from members of the Church. I remained neutral. Not because I didn’t have a side but rather because my thoughts were outside the presented arguments. On the one (right) hand there was the idea that all things were equal, thus results are not varied. More specifically, men (and women) are poor because they do not work hard enough and we should do nothing to help them. On the other (left), jobs that do not pay well should be forced to pay better as someone has to do these jobs. This was countered with, only lazy people do those jobs. And in this vein, the argument continued.
In America, this seems to be a moot point. The reality is that, yes too many Americans are under employed – but our welfare system provides for them. In my mind the real question should be where are all the good paying jobs? Why do we ship them overseas for slave labor? As neither party was addressing the core issue, I found little interest in the argument.
Coming back to it later, I realized I should have stepped in. Not to settle the argument, but to give a Christian perspective. It was clear that the first person was failing to obey Jesus’ teachings as found in Matthew 7: 1-5; don’t judge. Yes, one could argue that life isn’t a vacuum and all things are not equal, thus his argument was flawed. But that would miss the point. We shouldn’t be judging others. The second person did point this out a few days later, when the first person had started rehashing the argument, by pointing out the teachings of King Benjamin.
“…ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish. Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God. For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?” – Mosiah 4: 16-19
This did not go over well and caused a rather harsh reaction from the first person. Yet right or wrong economically, the second person had the correct idea spiritually. The greatest question asked in the Bible, in my opinion, is asked by Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4: 9). The Lord does not answer this question, yet the life of the Savior is our answer – yes!
The Lord wants us to care for each other so much that it is how we know each others as Christians, according to the author of Acts. In Acts 4: 34-35 we are told that none lacked. This mirrors 4th Nephi 4:3 in the Book of Mormon. This was so important to the Lord that He killed Ananias and Sapphira for holding back and lying about it (Acts 5: 1-10). It was this lack of caring for the poor that destroyed the Church in 4th Nephi as well;
“And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world. And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them. And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ.” – 1: 24-26
It is clear that class systems are not of the Lord and that we must do all that is in our power to lift each other up, and cast off each other’s burdens. Remember the words of Paul, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6: 2). We, as a society, should be doing all we can to eliminate class and create a world where we all may live as equals not only in the site for God, but in the site of society, economy, and every spiritual and worldly means. Political ideology is not what makes us Christians, our actions do. Our politics should support helping the poor and creating equality if we are to reflect our true Christian nature – regardless of our party affiliations.