In a recent blog post I urged the biblical basis for the spirituality of the church. One of the points I made is that while the church does not meddle in civil government, it most certainly may speak against social evils. Christians and pastors can and should speak out on evils such as racism, government sponsored torture, or, in this case, socialism.
I bring up socialism because I have noticed that it is becoming fashionable for Christians to denounce capitalism and laud socialism as a more biblical alternative. I get how this happens. Under capitalism, sin wreaks its usual havoc and the system is blamed for the injustice common to fallen human society. There are biblical principles that seem to push back against capitalism – such as concern for the well-being of others – which really should be addressed to how people use the system rather than the system itself. To be sure, capitalism itself provides no tonic for the disease of sin. Moreover, Christians should be discerning enough to scorn the adolescent egotism of Ayn Rand-style capitalism and realize the need for government intervention against capitalistic abuses. But in reacting against these, Christians should also have enough discernment not to endorse a system so inherently evil as socialism.
So, biblically speaking, why is socialism evil? Let me suggest three reasons:
1. Because socialism is a system based on stealing;
2. Because socialism is an anti-work system; and
3. Because socialism concentrates the power to do evil.
Let’s look at each of these briefly:
1. Because socialism is a system based on stealing. The whole point of socialism is for the government to seize control of private property, mainly involving the proceeds of peoples’ work, in order to give it to others. (Note the compulsory aspect of socialism, which so differs from voluntary forms of communalism.) This activity is the very thing pronounced as evil by the 8th Commandment: “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15). Throughout the Bible it is assumed that individuals have responsibility and authority over the property in their possession. For instance, even when Peter was accusing Ananias of being greedy and dishonest, the apostle admitted the man’s right to dispose of his personal property (Acts 5:4). While there is a legitimate basis for government taxation, the simple taking of one’s possessions in order to give them to others is not one of them. Socialism is evil because it inherently involves stealing.