Somewhere between the USSR and Bernie Sanders, socialism moved from being associated with gulags, media censorship and sequestering civilian property to free healthcare and Scandinavian utopia. Socialism in the United States is prominent in a way it hasn’t been in decades. High-profile left-leaning politicians hold up socialist policies as solutions to the ills facing the nation, from the growing political influence of the “top one percent” to the lack of universal health care.
A generation in the United States is now raising their voices (but not their taxes) to push for the end of burdensome student loans and to recreate the perfect balance of democratic socialism on American soil.
Impact on Christianity
What does this have anything to do with Christianity?
For starters, the underlying philosophy of socialism has a perverse view of power that flies in the face of God’s character and Scripture in general.
The root of socialism (and its ‘wicked stepmother’ communism) is an overarching paradigm called Marxism. At the risk of oversimplifying decades of political thought, Marxism separates everyone in society into two main camps: the oppressor (selfish, greedy business owners) and the oppressed (underpaid, overworked employees subjected to the harsh dehumanization of free market forces). This morbid philosophy relegates everyone into either being wronged or in the wrong.
In Marxism, power is narrowly defined as a tool used for evil unless it is equally shared among all parties.
What is the logical conclusion about an all-powerful God? Wouldn’t He be seen as selfish and oppressive?
How can Marxism acknowledge God’s right and power to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use (Romans chapter 9 vs 13 – 21)?
How can the tenets of Marxism be reconciled with the perfection of heaven? In heaven - idyllic paradise - God’s people serve and obey Him as slaves for all eternity (Revelation chapter 19 verse 5)? Wouldn’t their only hope for dignity and justice be to reject God’s oppression?
When Marxism seeps into theological reflection, it starts to echo the serpent in the garden: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God” (Genesis chapter 3 verse 5).
The ultimate goal of Marx’s ideologies was an equilibrium between production and consumption: "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." While this is noble and well-intentioned, this model far predates Marx and his political reasonings. The successful and sustainable mechanism of providing for the poor has never and will never depend on a political ideology or a rejection of capitalism.
Acts chapter 4 verses 31-35 says “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
The believers engaged in free (capitalist) trade – they earned money from the sales of their land or houses.
The believers shared their possessions – the state had no ownership or stakes in their private property.
The believers willingly shared everything they had. The state never intervened in the distribution of their possessions directly (through confiscation) or indirectly (through taxation to fund welfare programmes).
The model was obviously successful, since there were no needy persons among them.
The early church found that equilibrium between production and consumption through the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the subsequent application of God’s grace.
To be clear, I am not morally opposed to socialism. However, I am concerned about how socialism is being propped up as a form of godliness that denies His power (2 Timothy chapter 3 verse 5). Nowadays, socialism, and ultimately Marxist thought, is equated to the most dignified, just and compassionate economic system and form of governance, while implicitly demonising the sovereignty of God. It presents kindness, equality, compassion and selflessness as human traits that are internally and unilaterally generated instead of being instructed, inspired or empowered by the grace of God.
Missing the Mark
The Greek word for sin is “hamartía” which translates to “miss the mark.”
Missing the mark is elevating human righteousness beyond filthy rags, deluding ourselves that we can govern ourselves in a godly way without God’s wisdom, grace, humility and Holy Spirit.
Missing the mark is casting aspersions on God’s sovereignty and the inherent holiness of God having all power and using it as He pleases.
And when we miss the mark, X Marx the spot that we hit.
Kacy Garvey is a Christian poet, speaker and activist. In 2011, she launched "Rahab", an outreach to prostitutes in Geneva, Switzerland. She is a USAID certified HIV Testing and Counselling Provider and has also successfully completed training in Trafficking in Persons conducted by the International Organisation on Migration (IOM). She performs original pieces of spoken word poetry to various audiences, and in 2014 and 2018, she launched “Undone” and “Water Jar”, the first and only Christian poetry albums published in Jamaica thus far. As a founding member of the Love March Movement (since 2012) and #MarriageMattersJA (since 2018), she is a regular presenter on the science, politics and biblical worldviews on sex and sexuality. In January 2021, Kacy launched Caribbean Christian Response, an online movement that reviews the news from a biblical worldview and gathers millennials across the region to pray together and seek God’s heart on these issues.