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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Christian Ethics: The Poor

Question: Although many churches provide some services for the poor, such as handing out bags of groceries or assisting in the ministries of rescue missions, churches often stop short of addressing causes of poverty embedded in existing social structures, or speaking out against economic policies and practices that worsen the condition of the poor. In light of this week’s readings and lectures, how do you understanding the church’s responsibility to the poor? What steps can you take to raise your church’s awareness of and resistance to social and economic forces that aggravate poverty?

My understanding of the church's responsibility to the poor is that we must focus our attention to helping the poor through a two way approach. One, we take care of the physical needs in order to bring about a spiritual solution. If one is hungry, feed them soup and whatever else they need in order to feed them the Gospel message. Feeding them once or twice and never discussing the transforming message of the Gospel is a mistake. This is what I hear in the statement of Ronald Sider's book that "Sider has argued forthrightly that prayers and spiritual deliverance, not programs and social service deliver, must be ever at the heart of Christian anti-poverty efforts" (11). Why not feed the body and also the soul? How often do we feed the poor and feel that we are imposing on them with our "religion". This is not right.
Second, if the tobacco and alcohol companies have lobbyists in Washington DC and state capitols, then so should we. Yes, most churches give money or have some sort of outreach to the poor, but not a representative on Capitol Hill. Why not? Influence the decision makers. As one of my professors stated, our purpose in (business) ethics is to "Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comforted".


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