I’ve been pretty clear in this blog (and in live conversations) about my disagreement with those in New Thought circles who believe that you should never give to need. One licensed practitioner I know actually wrote that they’d give money to a RICH person before they’d give to charity. When I read the article and questioned them, I came away thinking “OK,…whatever – but that doesn’t work for me”.
For a while I thought that the 2 opinions on giving could co-exist peacefully. I decided that we just wouldn’t discuss it, and that I would just ignore this point of contention. The problem is that I couldn’t ignore it, and I finally realized why: I can respect other peoples’ convictions, even if they’re vastly different from mine, as long as there’s some consistency. But my BS-o-Meter goes off when the conviction conflicts with actions.
One example that almost everyone has had some exposure to is the abortion debate. Although I am strongly pro-choice, I have the utmost respect for those who believe that life is sacred, and work hard to not only prevent abortion, but to feed, clothe and house mothers and children and who protest the death penalty at every opportunity. These are people who believe that life is sacred, and their actions are consistently being directed toward preservation of sacred life. I may disagree, but I have extraordinary respect for their consistency of conviction.
I have a much harder time respecting those who want to stop abortion, but have no interest in feeding, sheltering or providing basic care for the baby once it’s no longer a fetus, and who are at the front of the crowds shouting “hang ’em high!” in death penalty cases. This behavior does not align with the alleged reason for the opposition to abortion, and makes it look more like political convenience than a strongly-held conviction.
What I realized recently about the “we don’t give to charity” crowd was that there exists a credibility gap with many of them as well. If you stand staunchly on the grounds that giving to charity is acknowledging need,… accepting charity is surely off limits because it is acknowledging your OWN need! If “teaching people to fish” (as opposed to giving them food) is the way you address hunger, you shouldn’t have your hand out when the food bank is delivering groceries. Similarly I expect to hear “Thank you, but we don’t believe in charity” when you’re offered charitable funds to pay for health services due to your inability to pay; I expect you to address the ability to pay for your doctor’s visit, hospital stay or surgery by doing treatment for an answer that is anything BUT charity. Keep in mind that the “free care” option available in many hospitals is funded by people who donate (give to need!) to these earmarked funds so that those who are in need can get care without giant hospital bills following them for the rest of their natural lives.
Religious Science, I am told, is built on 4 pillars – one of which being the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus has a lot to say about situations like this. In his day, Jesus was particularly critical of the scribes and Pharisees, calling them out on behavior that he saw as misaligned with the principles they boasted about loudly in public.
In Matthew, chapter 23 we can read one such opinion Jesus gave on the matter.
“1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.”
They preach, but do not practice. This sounds an awful lot like “I don’t GIVE to charity but I sure will take it when it’s offered!“.
They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. This sounds like “I’ll offer a free class to teach you to do treatment, so you can learn how to feed yourself and your children,” while leaning out the back door to accept a bag of groceries from the food bank.
If your “principles” of not giving to charity are absolute, you go hungry until you can demonstrate food or money that is NOT charity-based; you take on the debt from the medical interventions and treat for it to be paid, but you don’t. accept. charity,…unless your convictions only apply to others, in which case they’re not convictions – they’re convenient excuses.