There is a meme running around the political left about how “selfish” the political right is. Someone wrote a book about it. David Ignatius is writing op-eds, as are HuffPo editors. But the only way they get this point made is by redefining what it means to be “selfish.” When it comes to charitable giving, the numbers do not lie:
Overall, the states in which people gave the highest percentage of their adjusted gross incomes were also states that voted for Romney, while states in which people gave the lowest percentage of their adjusted gross income went for Obama. The top 17 states for rate of giving all went for Romney.
But charitable giving is only one part of selfish/unselfish divide. How we give matters as much as, if not more, than how much we give. There are two parts of the emerging liberal definition of selfish/unselfish that are just flat out lies. The first part is the equating of governmental confiscation and redistribution of money with charity and unselfishness. The second part is the desire that they have their ill-defined “unselfishness” acknowledged and even applauded.
There have always been people who were self-aggrandizing in their charity and it is often hard to tell when that is the case. Sometimes the Joe Blow Wing of Hospital X is named that way because Joe Blow demanded such as a condition of his giving – clearly self-aggrandizement. But often the hospital decides to place the name on the new wing out of gratitude. However it is not that difficult to discern the self-aggrandizing nature of the political left’s demands in this setting. The very articles listed above read amazingly like the prayers of the Pharisee in this parable:
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The charge of selfishness leveled in these cases is, of its nature self-aggrandizing. The emerging liberal definition of selfish/unselfish is self-aggrandizing, certainly to the point where it is intended to advance their political goals. True unselfishness is a matter of character, not policy.
There is nothing charitable in the confiscation and redistribution of money, if for no other reason it begins with that whole confiscation thing. There is no charity or unselfishness in money being “donated” at threat of criminal prosecution. Charity and unselfishness are matters of sacrifice:
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Confiscation is not sacrifice. Yesterday, writing about how politically active Christians are often their own worst enemies I said, ” If we are not virtuous, dare we ask for virtue from others?” “Charity” forced by governmental power is doing precisely that – it is demanding charity from everyone while limiting the charity you individually have to give. There is no virtue on government enforced charity at all.
Notice how this new meme is not only politically expedient for the left, but is inherently unchristian in its nature. I grow very weary of the Left taking Christian principals and either redefining them, as they do here, or appropriating them only when convenient. Appropriating God for her purposes has apparently become a favorite pastime for Nancy Pelosi. But it is funny how she starts twisting doctrine when confronted. Most frightening of all is how often we allow a fear of controversy or a desire to fit in let us go along with this misappropriation of our faith. It’s not that the the Left cannot be Christian, I know many that are, but we cannot let their political desires distort the faith.
We all need to grow in our understanding of and devotion to God. We have have to hold each other to account on these matters.