Should government, the church, or individuals provide support to the needy?

My father started out poor. My dad ended life pretty well off, not rich, but able to support himself. He worked all his life until medical retirement. My brother and I both went to university and are doing well for ourselves. My mom’s brother, on the other hand, asked me while I was in university, “Why work when the government will pay you not to work?”. It was an eye opener for me. He had been on the dole (government welfare) so long he had no self-respect. He had no idea why anyone would want to work to pay their own way. He was a leach.

On the other hand, I knew a woman with cerebral palsy who had difficulty clothing herself. But she was going to college and looking for a way to support herself. She wanted to be independent. I respected that a lot. 

I believe people need to take care of themselves if at all possible (Pro 6:6; 2 Thes 3:10). But at the same time, scripture is clear that people should care for the aliens, poor, widows and orphans (Lev 23:22; James 1:27), but I also think Scripture is clear as to which widows the church is to care for (1 Tim 5). Scripture is also clear that people should work for their food (Lev 23:22; 2 Thes 3:10).

I see nothing in scripture that says the government should pay for people to not work. If we are going to provide food, housing, and medical support, the people who receive that support should work for it in any way possible. While those who can not do any sort of work should definitely be cared for, no one who can do any sort of work should get free support for very long. If the only thing they can do is lick stamps, they should do that. If the only thing they can do is push a broom, they should do that. If all they can do is talk, then we should provide ways for them to work by talking in order to garner the support they need.  If they have no training, we can give them on the job training while they work for the support they are getting. the goal should be making them learn and work to earn money to get by with the intention of them getting off the government support rolls altogether. There’s nothing wrong with putting people in the military or conservation corp or something to make them work for the support they want. Then they should get a paycheck and immediately have to pay back the government for what they get.


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