Jesus Was Not A Socialist (Or a Refugee)
The Left is comprised of professional liars. They are envious. They are thieves. They also bear false witness about the Christ to fulfill their narrative. As this Christmas season comes to a close, the Left has amplified their calls for forced redistribution of wealth and a forced rejection of the private property ethic by making the claim that Jesus Christ was a socialist. In addition to these calls for socialism in the name of Emmanuel, the Left has used Jesus to make the case for government refugees. The Left is doing this not by making a case for philanthropy or kindness to your fellow human being, but by claiming that Jesus himself was a refugee. Both narratives are demonstrably false. Much of this writing is inspired by Larry Reed’s “Rendering unto Caesar: Was Jesus a Socialist,” which can be accessed here.
Thou Shalt Not What?
Since Jesus is the manifestation of God, the Ten Commandments would make for a good start regarding the true beliefs of Jesus. In the Law of Moses and Christianity, theft is intolerable. The eighth commandment (Exodus 20:15) reads “You shall not steal (NASB).” In addition, the tenth commandment (Exodus 20:17) reads “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor (all Bible passages in this article will be from the NASB translation).”
Not only is theft sinful in Christianity, but also envy is sinful. We can all agree that taxation, especially when it is used to redistribute wealth, is theft. One does not have the right to another person’s property, even if they claim to be a government. Theft is still theft and theft is immoral and sinful no matter who is stealing and why they are stealing. What matters is the fact that they are stealing. If someone forcefully confiscates your property, this action does not become any more or less moral based on who stole from you or why they stole from you. They still stole from you. But God doesn’t just proclaim theft to be immoral, he also proclaimed the desire to steal to be sinful.
The tenth commandment forbids coveting that which others have. Envy is as sinful as theft in God’s eyes. The Left is comprised of nothing but envy, as it pairs the haves against the have-nots. Leftism, and statism in general demand a forced redistribution of wealth and power among those the State considers worthy and unworthy. Redistribution of wealth and power rests inherently on the material envy of those with more than you. Not only is socialism sinful, but so is advocacy for socialism.
Jesus followed through with this belief as well. Luke 12:13-15 tells us of a man who requested that Jesus compel the man’s brother to divide their father’s inheritance equally. Jesus didn’t do so. Instead, he responded by saying “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” Jesus did not do what the socialist would have done and redistribute the inheritance equally. Instead, Jesus condemned the envy and advocacy for theft the man delivered.
Did Jesus Hate the Rich, the Merchants, and Money?
Jesus hated none of the above. Socialists will often cite Matthew 19:23-24 which reads “And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'” To a socialist, this is a clear condemnation of the rich, for they cannot make it to heaven. This is not the case. This is a warning to the rich. It is a warning to not hold on to the ways of this world. It’s okay to be wealthy; it is not okay to be ruled by wealth.
Socialists are also notorious for omission. This is no exception. If one looks just a little further in the Bible, Jesus explains it is impossible for any human to enter Heaven. For all people, Heaven is attained only through God. Immediately after Matthew 19:23-24 is Matthew 19:25-26 which reads “When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” It is clear that anyone can enter the kingdom of heaven through God and God alone. Jesus is not condemning the rich, he is warning them against putting wealth before God.
Socialists and liberals will refer to Matthew 21:12-13 in which Jesus drives out the money changers from the temple. They again claim this is clear evidence of Jesus’s disdain for capitalism. It is not. It is merely Jesus condemning the idea of turning the church into a commercial enterprise. To Jesus, the church is not a place of business, it is a place of worship. For Jesus, there is a place to worship and it is not the place for commercial activity. Since the church is the House of God, Jesus is removing trespassers in this passage. He is asserting the private property rights of God, so to speak.
Leftists will claim the Bible says that money is the root of all evil. It doesn’t. You can read the Bible from cover to cover and you will never see this phrase. 1 Timothy 6:10, however, does say “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” This isn’t a condemnation of money. Once again, it is a warning to the people to put their faith before all else. It isn’t money that is evil, it is being ruled by money that is evil. It is putting something before Christ that is evil.
But Romans 13 Blesses the Government, Right?
Romans 13:1-7 is among the most misunderstood sections of the Bible. To a common eye, it comes across as a divine endorsement of government. Kings used these verses to justify their power in the age of absolutism. But if one takes Romans 13 in the context of Romans 12, it becomes apparently obvious that Paul is calling for Christians to turn the other cheek. In the context of the letters of Paul, Christians were being executed en masse. The goal of the Christian at the time was to keep the faith alive, not abolish the government. Just because a Christian is supposed to turn the other cheek, that does not mean the aggressor is not flawed. It is God’s job to handle justice, not ours.
In addition, the Bible lists several instances of God’s followers resisting the government. One wouldn’t accuse Moses of sin after guiding the Hebrews out of Egypt. The biblical belief on government goes way beyond Romans 13. For more information regarding Romans 13 and the biblical view of government, check out Romans13.com.
Jesus Was Not a Refugee
Advocates of open borders and refugee programs will make the claim that Jesus was a refugee. This is not the case. Often time, leftists will use the circumstances of Jesus’s birth to claim he was a refugee. Mary and Joseph, however, had been in Bethlehem for some time before the birth of Jesus. They also didn’t go to Bethlehem for refuge, they returned there to take part in the Census of Augustus, the emperor of Rome (see Luke 2:1-5).
A more reliable narrative that Jesus was a refugee comes from Matthew 2:13-16 in which the holy family fled Nazareth to Egypt due to King Herod’s order to kill all boys under the age of two. This is not an incident of a refugee for several reasons. According to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, a refugee is “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
The holy family was not “unable” or “unwilling” to return to Nazareth. They did return to Nazareth according to Matthew 2:19-23. In addition, Jesus never left the country of his nationality. He was under the sovereignty of the Roman Empire throughout his youth. This alone refutes the idea of Jesus the Refugee. Of course, the Bible says we ought to treat people with kindness, regardless of their immigration status. That does not mean free immigration is the only Christian position. It means that we, as individuals, should be kind to others.
The Real Jesus
One can read every word of every translation of the Bible (including the Original Greek) and they will never find an endorsement of government or forced redistribution of wealth. Rather, you will see plenty of examples of Jesus endorsing free will, whereas that is a gift of God. This is not to claim Jesus was a libertarian or a conservative, rather it is to claim that Jesus was apolitical. He was not concerned with one’s beliefs regarding politics. He was concerned with your faith in the Lord and your willingness to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
While Jesus was apolitical, there are clear endorsements of property rights in the biblical texts. Take the eighth and tenth commandments as an example. In addition, consider in Matthew 22 when the Pharisees attempted to compel Jesus to denounce Roman rule, thus forcing him to commit treason. In Matthew 22:21, Jesus said: “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” While this may come across as an endorsement of taxation, it is not. One does not own something simply because they claim to own it. Just because a thief claims to own your stolen property does not mean he owns it. So what is Caesar’s? His own private property and that is it. He is not entitled to the property of others. To give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to give to God what is God’s is a strong endorsement of private property.
The real Jesus can be summarized by the Golden Rule as expressed in Matthew 7:12: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” If you don’t want others stealing from you, do not steal from them. If you do not want others giving your wealth to others, do not give their wealth to others. Nobody wants to be stolen from. Nobody wants to be hated simply because of their economic status. So why do that to others when you would not want that to be done to you?