View Full Version : A Clergyman's Security (1957)

10-29-2010, 12:29 AM

In 1957, ministers were given the option of joining the Social Security program. Ministers are still allowed to opt out during the second year of their ordination, but only if they opt out for moral objections. This essay was written as a warning to ministers from a minister. Opt out. The issue is moral. ~ Gary North

In the brief compass of this letter I can touch upon only a few of the ways in which the social security scheme violates the moral law of God. The moral law of God is succinctly summarized in the Ten Commandments. The Christian belief is that disobedience to these commands of God constitutes sin.

"Thou Shalt Not Kill"

One of the Commandments in God's moral law states, "Thou shalt not kill." Are we not agreed that this command forbids not only overt acts of murder but all coer*cion and violence except for the restraint of evil? I once had the unhappy experience of being robbed by a group of armed bandits. When argument failed and the gun of one of the bandits was waved at my head amidst threats to myself and family, I met their demands and parted with the little money I had on hand. These particular bandits were probably men of less material possessions than myself and their act of vio*lence made for a greater equality in our status. But even so, did that justify their act? All of us would agree that it did not. But is there any difference from the point of view of morality, in the government, under the cloak of legisla*tion, forcing its citizens to pay so*cial security taxes in order to help provide for the aged? Is this act of coercion on the part of the government any less a violation of the command of God than the above act of the bandits?

The government through its social security legislation uses force as a means to its ends. Can coer*cion on the part of the government except for the purpose of restraining evil ever be countenanced by the Christian citizen as in accord with God's law? Compulsory taxation by the government for any other reason than to obtain funds for the proper function of government cannot be sanctioned as in accord with the moral law.

The government also through this legislation uses compulsion to retire people at the age of sixty-five. It would be hard for the most enthusiastic advocate of the Welfare State to justify such compulsion as in any way in accord with the moral law of God. The pro*hibitions of the moral law as it relates to man's relationship with man gives the individual freedom except to harm or do evil to others.

Coercion to retire at a certain age and compulsion to support so-called "charity" schemes of gov*ernment are quite opposed to the command that forbids the use of force except to restrain evil.

"Thou Shalt Not Steal"

Another one of God's commands in the moral law reads, "Thou shalt not steal." Stealing is in violation of the moral law whether done by a bandit with a gun or by the State under the cloak of legislation. Stealing is no less theft if the money is used for benevolent purposes than if it is used for evil purposes. The social security tax is a way of taking money from one taxpayer in order to give it to an*other person or group. It is the robbing of Peter to pay Paul.

Our Lord gives us a fuller ap*plication of this Commandment in His parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Here Jesus teaches thrift and a wise use of money. It is a sin for one to waste, destroy, or not to make good use of his material possessions. The law of God, however, is just as manda*tory for the State as for the individual. The taxes collected for social security are being currently spent by the government rather than invested to bring a profitable return. This is certainly poor stewardship. The State has no more right to be careless with public funds than the individual does with his own money.

The government under the social security legislation assumes financial obligations for those retired over sixty-five years of age. The funds collected for this purpose fall far short of the amount the government is obligated to pay. The government, however, can and does meet its obligations by its monetary policies that inflate the currency. So while actually paying the number of dollars promised, the real value of the dollars is so reduced that the recipient receives far less than he had reason to expect from the promise of the gov*ernment. Can this in any way be justified on the basis of God's command, "Thou shalt not steal"?

"Honor Thy Parents"

Another one of God's commands in the moral law reads, "Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." One can hardly properly fulfill this command by turning over the care of his aged parents to the State. There is none of the warmth of filial love and devotion in government "charity." Charity according to God's Word is always voluntary. Children are to care for their parents as an act of love and gratitude to them. The New Testament teaches that the Church through its deacons is to care for those otherwise neglected. Nowhere in the Bible is charity looked upon as a work of the State. To turn this work over to the State is to deny to individuals and the Church their God-given responsi*bility and privilege to care for the needy.

A notion prevalent today even among clergymen is that since individuals are not as charitable as they should be, the State must by taxation and schemes of "charity" make up for this lack. History re*futes the notion that "charity" of the State ever leads to anything but injustice and tyranny. Give the State the power to administer "charity" by force and you have taken the heart out of charity. Even worse than that, you are saying that the State is not subject to the law of God as individuals are. Charity is certainly a Christian obligation. However, the obligation that men have to their elders and others is one of love, respect, and voluntary assistance in times of material need. There is no such thing as charity by force.