Chuck Colson in “Big Government and Religion: An Inverse Relationship?” and April Lorier in “My Help Cometh From Uncle Sam” use similar phrases to sum up a Wall Street Journal article on how the more government welfare programs the less that people are inclined to attend church. Unfortunately, neither gave a link to the original article, so I am going off what they say about how church attendance in socialistic countries like Denmark is lower than in the US.
Once, people turned to the church when they needed assistance. As Colson points out:
In his classic book, Democracy in America, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at how Americans could accomplish almost anything through voluntary associations—especially churches. They built schools, hospitals, sent missionaries all over the world. He wrote, “I frequently admired the boundless skill of Americans in setting large numbers of people a common goal and inducing them to strive toward that goal voluntarily.”
De Tocqueville doubted that government could ever accomplish all that American citizens could do through their associations. But he also warned that if government should supplant the good work of these associations, the American people would ultimately end up dependent upon government. And this, he said, would imperil not only American democracy, but “civilization itself.”
What did God intend?
In the OT, Israel was expected to give a 3rd tithe twice in a 7 year cycle. It was NOT, as some would state, that Israel gave 30% of their incomes every year. The 3rd tithe was only every 3 years. It was not a tithe for the running of the tabernacle or the temple. It was not a festival tithe (the majority of which is spent on yourself and your family anyhow).
And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.
When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;
Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them.
~ Dt 26:11-13
Part of God’s welfare system was to acknowledge His provision in everything, to bring the tithe to the priest (v 2) and make a declaration before the priest. Then, the tither was to give it to those in need.
In the NT, the Church was commanded over and over again to care for the poor and the widows. Paul even setup a distribution system to help feed the saints in Jerusalem during a famine. James admonished people to not just wish others well, but to actively help them physically as well.
When I read Scripture, I just don’t see a bloated governmental bureaucracy that is inefficient, at best, and takes in as much as it gives out in order to keep itself running, at worst.
This is another example of man trying to out-do God, and like everything else is certain to fail at some point.