Seeing Through Partisan Politics or The Eyes of Jesus

For my new Musings into the near future, I will often  follow a pattern of posting two back-to-back Musings that are inter-related. The first Musing will be directed primarily to users of social media; it will be relatively brief, using “popular language” that can easily and quickly digested. The follow-up Musing will be geared to readers who are seeking a more extended conversation, more “academic’ in tone and content, concerning challenging questions that are unanswered in the first Musing

Our beliefs about any contemporary contentious issue are deeply informed by the lens through which we understand the nature of that issue.

Rather than dealing in generalities, consider the specific issue of whether government should provide welfare programs for those citizens who, for various reasons, are not able to compete in a free-market capitalistic economic system; paying particular attention to food assistance programs such as the current SNAP program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

In over-simplified terms, an extreme partisan political view embraced by some Republicans is that food assistance programs should either be eliminated or severely limited (e.g., by means of strict “back to work” expectations) since such programs foster dependency on governmental help, when most, if not all citizens should be able to compete in a free-market capitalistic economic system.

In sharp contrast, an extreme partisan political view embraced by some Democrats is that any citizen who is having trouble “keeping food on the table” for whatever reason (even unwillingness to seek employment) should have access to food assistance provided by the government.

Are either of these extreme positions justifiable? Or, is there some viable “middle ground” that recognizes that there are some legitimate reasons for not being able to compete in a free-market capitalistic economic system (e.g., a physical or mental disability) and, therefore, an attempt should be made to identify legitimate conditions that should be satisfied before providing any citizen with food assistance.

But, for a citizen who aspires to be a “follower of Jesus,” the quest to identify such a possible “middle-ground” must be deeply informed by more than just a partisan political view coming from either side of the legislative aisle. The following questions must be asked: How would Jesus view the practice of providing food assistance to those citizens who can’t seem to be able to compete in a free-market capitalistic economic system? Would Jesus embrace the view that there is a legitimate role for government to play in providing such assistance under certain conditions, and what should such conditions be?

This Musing poses a lot of questions without proposing answers. For those readers who may be interested in a more in-depth analysis that seeks for some viable answers, look for my next Musing, titled “Can I Always Give Jesus the Last Word?”

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