We return to our series on Orthodox Christianity versus Socialism with a look back at the three previous Articles. In our first installment we examined the basic matter of materialism (not to be punny), noting that Socialism is completely different in its worldview, treating matter itself as the only creative energy or force, and emphasizing a point of view that nothing exists beyond the material world. Part II examined the Marxist statement “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Marx said this, but few people remember or care that Marx himself was justifying his own life as an utter failure, an angry man who never took responsibility for his own life, but preferred to blame others for what he didn’t have. Part III examined some of the results of the glorification of the temper tantrum thrown in a very educated way – including the execution of perhaps 100 million people deemed by “the State / the system” to be unneeded by the socialists. Socialism and its very close cousin, Communism, have together created the deadliest regimes ever to be on the face of this earth. All because people mean nothing, because only matter means anything. Now we further look at the destructive effects of Socialism, how it attacks us from the inside out through the attitudes it presents as justified or even noble, and in some cases, characterized wrongly as Christian!
Socialism endorses stealing.
This one is fairly simple, if you think about it. First of all, of course, it cannot be packaged as directly as what the above subheading says. Here is how Julie Roys unpacked it:
Barack Obama once defended his socialist policies to a little girl by saying, “We’ve got to make sure that people who have more money help the people who have less money. If you had a whole pizza, and your friend had no pizza, would you give him a slice?”
That sounds pretty Christian, right? What Christian wouldn’t endorse sharing your abundance with someone who has nothing?
So far, this above argument is greatly relied upon by socialist-sympathetic Orthodox Christians. You have abundance. Your brother doesn’t. So give him some of yours!
There is a very key element wrong in this sequence which we will return to, shortly. First, back to Julie:
However, Obama wasn’t endorsing people voluntarily sharing their wealth with others; he was endorsing the government forcibly taking a piece of the pie from one person and giving it to someone else. Put another way, that’s saying that if you have three cars and your neighbor has none, the government has a right to take your car and give it to your neighbor. That’s not Christian; that’s stealing!
But, socialists don’t believe in private property. And, some Christian socialists actually assert that the Bible doesn’t either. That’s preposterous.
Both the Old Testament and New Testament unequivocally affirm private property. We can’t even obey the eighth commandment to not steal, unless we accept the notion of private ownership. Nor, can we steward our money as the Bible commands if the state owns our money, not us. So, for an economic and political system to be Christian, it must protect private ownership and allow individuals freedom to allocate their resources according to their conscience.
Julie hit it out of the park on this one, but we still have the key ingredient to add. Look again at the sequence:
You have abundance. Your brother doesn’t. So give him some of yours!
Who has abundance? Who must give it away?
It is always you, or people, or everybody… everyone but the only one who Christianity focuses on:
In other words, the socialist liberal or communist talks about solving the problem in terms of making society (everybody) do some specific thing.
Christianity does not EVER do this. In fact there is not a single teaching in the Gospels or anywhere else in Orthodox Christianity that proposes any sort of action to be taken on society as a whole.
This is where the Orthodox Christian faith is far more hardline than Protestantism. I will go so far as to say that Protestantism is far more conducive to socialist ideas than Orthodoxy is.
Orthodox Christianity tells the believer basically, first and foremost, “mind your OWN business.” Consider the text of the Great Penitential Canon of St Andrew of Crete. This is a four-day long sequence of services (later repeated all at once, taking around four hours to do in Russia, longer in some other places). These are examples of the texts of the service (with certain emphases added):
Where shall I begin to lament the deeds of my wretched life? How shall I begin, O Christ, to relieve my present tears? But as Thou art deeply compassionate, grant me forgiveness of sins…
Having rivaled the first-formed Adam by my transgressions, I have found myself stripped naked of God, of the everlasting kingdom and all of its delights, because of my sins.
Woe is me, O wretched soul, for thou art become like the first Eve! For thou hast looked in wickedness and wast bitterly wounded; for thou hast touched the tree and rashly tasted the forbidden fruit…
Adam was rightly banished from Eden, O Savior, because he disobeyed one of Thy commandments. What then shall I suffer, for constantly rejecting Thy words of life?
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
O Trinity, Who surpasses all creation and is adored in Unity, take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and in Thy compassion grant me tears of compunction.
Now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
O Theotokos, the hope and protection of those who praise thee, take from me the heavy yoke of sin and as thou art our Most-pure Lady, accept me in repentance.
On and on this goes, some 255 or more verses focused only on addressing “what is wrong with me?” Not “what is wrong with the world?” or “what is wrong with society?”
In case the reader is beginning to wonder what this has to do with stealing, just think: If I am working on what is wrong with me, then all the changes and alterations I make to my life are to the only person I have the right to do anything like that to – myself.
When we start thinking about changing society, especially in terms of things like “making everything fair by making everyone have the same, or by making the State control means of production…” As soon as there is but one person who opposes these changes, the rest of us are stealing from that person.
Even more, the socialist liberal talks about what everybody else must do, but when is the last time that person decided to freely give of their own wealth to help the State help society? We are all free to do so if we wish, but the idea that I can tell anyone else what they must do with their money, especially when I am unwilling to do the same myself (leading by example)… what is that? It is stealing. It is even worse, rising to the level of extortion, forcing other people to do what I will not do myself.
The socialist has backup for this though. For the socialist, if someone is unwilling to do what the State wants, it can be done to them anyway, because that person has no intrinsic value. Remember the Marxist axiom that all reality springs from the material world? This takes us to the notion that there is nothing intrinsically valuable about any person. Hence, abortion is merely a removal of an insignificant and unimportant growth of flesh (and not a person), euthanasia is simply the removal of unproductive matter (the aged and infirm), marriage is simply an agreement to mutually use someone else (or even multiple someone elses) for pleasurable feelings and even for profit.
All of these things are in direct opposition to Christianity, which upholds each person as a unique, wildly beloved creation of a loving God, each given the gift of life, freedom, thought, movement, insight, intelligence – everything!
All these things are in direct opposition to Christianity, which upholds life itself as something only God can create. Men and women do not create babies. They help God do so, but as we know, God has done it without our help before. To treat any person without the highest level of regard as a unique creation of God is stealing from them – not only their monetary wealth, but their very soul and dignity.
It should be becoming very clear how absolutely incompatible Christianity and Socialism are, and we still have two more reasons left.
Part V takes us into more of a side-by-side examination of the differences in Socialism and Christianity, but also with the advancing coronavirus epidemic, we will see how socialism and its secular basis are being challenged, with some people returning to faith in God out of necessity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.