Sunday, November 12, 2006

Caring for the Poor (5) - Families

Families caring for each other is different from the modern concept, where the state is expected to care for the elderly. The biblical principle is that children and grandchildren should care for the elderly.

The traditional family managed inter-generational wealth transfers very effectively. Parents cared for children when they were young, and children provided for their parents when they grew old. This worked well, because parents have their greatest earning power, when their children need expensive tertiary education. The children have their best earning power, when their parents are old and dependent on them.

The modern social welfare state has created problems by shifting wealth between generations without thought for the consequences. These changes have broken the bonds that held our wider families together. Parents no longer provide for their teenage children, so they have less influence on their lives, just when the need is greatest. Often extended families do no know each other well, so they are not in a position to support each other. Christian community will have to be restored so that families can provide economic support for each other in times of need.

God has given fathers the responsibility for providing for their families and where the father or his family fails to provide, the church is responsible to meet the need. When the state becomes the provider, it takes this responsibility away from the father and he loses his self respect. This weakens family life, making the whole welfare problem worse.

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