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Letter to the Editor: Using scripture rightly in the Medicaid debate


It is always good to consult Scripture on issues of public policy debate.  Sir William Blackstone wrote, “Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these.”  However, if we are going to express Scripture we ought to at least try to get it right.

Governor Nixon and Dr. Jim Hill made an egregious misapplication of Ezekiel 22 in their recent piece in the Missouri Times “Standing in the Gap for Working Missourians.”  Former Senator Jim Lembke was right in correcting that misapplication in his Letter to the Editor.  The passage is written as a rebuke to the leaders of the nation of Israel, not as a justification for the government taking more power.  Dr. Hill and Governor Nixon ought at least ask the intent of the passage before taking it out of context.  It would be just as wrong for me to take the passage “Jesus wept” out of context and apply it to this debate.

If we are going to do this, let’s do it right.  The starting point of all law in Scripture is the Pentateuch.  If we consider what the Pentateuch has to say about care of the poor, we must look to three places in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  These key passages are Deuteronomy 14, 15 and Leviticus 23:22.  These passages describe private giving, the tithe to the church and gleaning, in that order.  They are all private initiatives and do not involve the king.  In the first two, it is interesting to note that God proclaims that the nation will be blessed to the extent the people freely give and tithe.  In the latter, it is interesting to note that the book of Ruth describes the process of gleaning in the story of the redemption of Ruth from her poverty.

Considering the other side of the charity equation, the massive taxes the government must impose on its citizens, the confiscation of the fruits of our own industry, Samuel says this:

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. . . . . 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work.17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”  1 Samuel 8: 10 – 18.

One must ask, if Israel became slaves to the king when he took a tenth of all they had, what are we?  So the left wants to convert compassion into a right and in order to do it, it must enslave us all.  In one fell swoop, the government enslaves us and takes from us the very means by which we may seek blessing, the private giving to the needy.  If then we recognize that private, compassionate giving is a blessing on the people and taxation is slavery, what should we pursue?  Charity and compassion belong to God and his Church.  My health belongs to God.  Legal rights and duties belong to the civil government.  In the words of Jesus, who came to fulfill the law, give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.  I would prefer to give to God and in His way.  And that should be the public policy of the state.

David Linton
The Blackstone Initiative