By Josh Colver
A common argument the left uses to slam religious people is the “Jesus was a socialist” argument. But this is fundamentally flawed and wrong. People do indeed buy into this argument that Jesus was a socialist; after all, he fed the poor, he called for a collectivist tithing system and performed healthcare for free. But the one big thing these aspiring biblical historians missed is he did not request the use of force to accomplish these goals. Jesus did not tell his disciples to break into Caesar’s palace to steal money for food. He did not say go around with a gun during tithing to make sure everyone “pays their fair share.” He said help your neighbor and care for the poor, not give your money to the Romans so they could do it for you.
Jesus understood why charity and voluntary exchange were moral and valuable to society. Jesus abided by God’s law, and socialism violates two of the ten commandments: First, “Thou shalt not steal”. As an individual, I am outlawed by the government from taking items and money that is not mine. Doing this is also known as theft or stealing. It doesn’t matter if what I am doing is virtuous. It doesn’t matter if I am going to use the money I stole from my neighbor to give to charity and feed the homeless. The ends do not justify the means. Theft is illegal, theft is immoral, and it is destructive to society. But if we turn the tables on this analogy government is allowed to do all these things. The government can steal from individuals, up to any amount that it so desires. Any resistance will result in the imprisonment of the citizen who refuses to pay his money over to the state. This issue also has a lot to do with the monopoly of force that the state holds. The state can use force to coerce its citizens to do whatever it likes, the extremes of this are seen in numerous examples throughout history. But when an individual tries to use force to coerce another person into doing something he is imprisoned. In the words of former presidential candidate Austin Petersen, “You are not charitable because you put a gun to someone else’s head and force them to be charitable.” At the end of the day that's exactly what it is, every government measure and law must be enforced through the barrel of a gun or else there would not be compliance.
And, second, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife or anything that is your neighbors.” The core tenet of socialism is envy. Socialists are envious of those who have money and possessions. In the words of economist Thomas Sowell: “I have never understood why it is "greed" to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else's money.” They use an immoral economic system to justify their envy and slam those who have money as greedy exploiters who are unfeeling. This argument illustrates probably the biggest difference between Socialists and Capitalists. A Socialist sees a wealthy family with a lot of money and a big house and thinks “No one should ever live like that” A Capitalists looks and sees it and thinks “Everyone should live like that.”
The thing that made Jesus different and attracted people to his message was that he did not call for force to accomplish his goals. He taught that peace and charity were how you spread love, not by force.