There are plenty of commentators on Obama's stimulus package that it would probably be superfulous to add my thoughts on that. There are some things that haven't been said that I have decided would be better to address from a distinctly Christian viewpoint.
Ultimately, what the government does is irrelevant to what the Christian does. What I mean is that affairs of governments will ultimately be judged by God. What we will be accountable for, as Christians, is our own personal relationships and how our local congregations function. A bible passage that rams this point home is 1 Cor. 5:12-13
"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside."
There are problems enough that the Church faces that we perhaps ought to begin setting our own affairs in order and resolving the issues that are more directly under our control.
What are some of those problems? Chronic bible illiteracy, lovelessness, lack of community, hypocrisy, miserliness, rampant divorce, deep debt, etc., I'm sure we can generate the list easily enough. Solutions are hard to come by, though.
What does this have to do with the stimulus bill? Well, I contend that this stimulus package is just an extension of precedents laid long ago. In America, the idea of using the government to solve our problems has been on the table for a long time and despite frequent objections on principle, Americans (and America at the time and today to a large part, too, consists of a LOT of Christians) have allowed any number of government solutions to come to pass. These are all well meaning. They always are. But 'well meaning' from a Christian point of view is different than from a secularist's point of view, and guess who is in control of the government?
For example, a secularist will think that paying the abortions for poor people is well meaning. I don't suppose that is what we meant, but we helped pave the way for such thinking by using the State as a charity agency.
What other programs have we allowed? Examples include the Department of Education, Social Security, and DOMA...
DOMA? The Defense of Marriage Act? Yes, even that. While Christians were rallying to defend the traditional definition of marriage, 'divorce on demand' occured as often in the Christian community as outside of it. Gay activists have a point when they question the 'family values' of the moral majority, although it is the wrong point. They argue that the liberalization of ideas about marriage can't hardly produce a result worse than the traditionalists have already achieved. The truth is, however, that it is the liberalization of ideas about marriage that put the traditionalists in the mess they are in. When 'no fault' divorce came along, the Church more or less allowed the state to set the standards regarding marriage.
I am not making the 'You can't legislate morality' argument. I'm making the 'Our job is the church, let God judge the world' argument. We cannot pin our hopes for moral revival on the affairs in Washington.
The stimulus package contains numerous 'assistance programs' which many Christians (the conservative ones, anyway) object to on a number of levels. However, we have tolerated many assistance programs to this point. If the Christian church in America wanted to, it could render such programs irrelevant simply by generously reaching out to fellow Christians in their local communities. There is no justification in the Scriptures for the church to use government agencies to do what is rightfully their duty. A relevant scripture would be out of Galatians:
"Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:10
It does not read: "Therefore as we have opportunity pass legislation mandating that other people do our good works for us."
It is a shocking shame that there is even a single needy person in the American church given its extraordinary wealth.
In short, the seeds of the current situation were laid long ago and the roots go too deep, in my opinion, to think we can much alter affairs. I think we just have to let the seeds bear their fruit and reap the consequences. In the meantime, we can set our own affairs in order, as we would have had to do, anyway. The time is now.
Anthony Horvath is the Executive Director of Athanatos Christian Ministries. He is the author of the Birth Pangs series and blogs at sntjohnny.com. He is available for speaking and consulting. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.