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We live in a time where a  shrinking work force, foreclosures and unsure futures weigh heavy on everyone’s minds.  Political parties are at each other’s throats regarding who deserves a bailouts and health insurance. Most people in the wealthy class  have really faulty approaches to poverty, criticizing the reliance on government by liberals, and ultimately concluding, the “Left” and “Right” could put down their “culture war” weapons and spend time, money, and resources giving to those in need so that there was little left for the government to do.

What I think confuses the matter in most Christian discussions of poverty is that he Bible tells us we each have a real responsibility to help the impoverished. The corporal works of mercy are all acts of charity to our neighbors.

  1. Feed the hungry
  2. Give drink to the thirsty
  3. Clothe the naked
  4. Shelter the homeless
  5. Visit the sick
  6. Visit those in prison
  7. Bury the dead

Giving away money, providing meals, etc., are all actions that individuals can take to alleviate the symptoms of poverty, but they don’t address the root causes of poverty. It is matter of respecting life. When you are forced to struggle because you cannot ask for additional pay or have your landlord provide heat and decent conditions you are placed in the precarious position of relying on the kindness of others.

Poverty is a moral issue: it’s simply not right that in a country or a world with so much abundance, for people to go without food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc.   Christians haven’t quite figured out how government should promote morality: should the government push for specific moral ends with abortion or sexual ethics but not poverty. I think most Christians agree that the government should take morality into account, but mostly these suggestions on which issues fall along partisan lines.  Is poverty the result of immoral or bad choices? Is poverty due to discrimination, inequality, or broad social forces that an individual can’t control?  Do inherently sinful individuals bring poverty on themselves? Are social systems in a fallen world doomed to perpetuate injustice(i.e. Acorn)? How can flawed people and broken institutions succeed in solving a this issue?

{For more from Oretha Winston follow her on Twitter}

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