Actually, the biblical case against income equality is a case that need not be made. And why not? Because non-income equality—NIE—is clearly the biblical norm, except in very limited and special circumstances! Even the continual admonition to care for the poor is predicated on the fact that in this life there are those who “have” and there are those who “have not.”
Let's look at a few verses that assume NIE:
**One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell (Proverbs 11:24-26).
Clearly, in Bible times, some people had accumulated substantial resources, while others were in need. Job, the most righteous of men, had honorably accumulated great wealth.
**[Job] owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East (Job 1:3).
Despite Job's great wealth, God pointed him out to Satan for his surpassing integrity:
**“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:3, 8).
Job's great wealth did not lessen God's estimation of him. Even with his vast resources, Job was steadfast in serving God.
In contrast to the situation with Job, Jesus told a parable about a foolish farmer who had a great harvest and had built a new barn to store his bounty. However, the farmer was foolish, not because he had great wealth, but because his wealth had become more important to him than God. Thus, for his compromised heart, he suffered great loss:
**“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
The Bible never identifies wealth as an evil in itself. Instead, it is the love of wealth and anything else in this world wherein the problem lies:
**Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them (1 John 2:15).
To love God is to put Him ahead of everything else (Matthew 6:33). This means that we have to put all of our resources at His disposal.
However, this truth from God’s word does not mean that a government has a right to control our lives by enforcing a top-down program of IE. In fact, such control is antithetical to God's control and guidance. Therefore, Jesus warned in Matthew 6:24 that we should disdain the idea of taking on a second master—in this case, the government—to micro-manage all of our income.
For the ancient Israelites, God's plan was that Israel was to be led by judges and not by the domination of kings who would tax them to finance their own agendas. However, after warning Israel against taking on a monarch, He relented and acquiesced to their demands.
There is nothing in the Bible that requires IE. Instead, the Mosaic system was designed to benefit the diligent, the righteous, and those who worked hard:
**The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry (Proverbs 13:25).
This is a picture of NIE, not IE. Fairness, according to the way the Bible views these matters, required that those who were hard workers be allowed to profit from their labors:
**All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty (Proverbs 14:23).
Conversely, the wicked were not to be rewarded:
**The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings ruin (Proverbs 15:6).
IE excludes any consideration of conduct. IE would reward drunkenness, drug abuse, and adultery in the same way that it would reward hard work and honesty. In light of this, taking from the righteous hard-worker to give to the wicked was regarded as unjust. However, IE removes the necessary consequences from the wicked and the lazy to their own destruction.
In contrast, God's system would bless the righteous hard worker:
**Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice...The wicked will see and be vexed, they will gnash their teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing (Psalm 112:3-5, 10).
Once again, instead of income equality, nearly everything in the Bible points to NON-income equality. And even though there are many admonitions to freely give to the needy, it is tacitly understood that the giving is to be done in such a way that people are not dis-empowered or enabled to become irresponsible.
Therefore, the Apostle Paul taught that giving requires great discernment so that those who are not worthy of the church's alms do not receive them:
**Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives (1 Timothy 5:3-6).
To support those who were living for their own pleasure was to enable a sinful lifestyle. Instead, the church had a responsibility to the worthy poor who could not support themselves otherwise. Where possible, the family had to take care of their own who were in need:
**No widow may be put on the [alms] list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry... Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to... If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need (1 Timothy 5:9-11, 13, 16).
This requires wise discrimination and not IE with its unwillingness to discriminate. To support the wrong people might deprive them of the motivation to trust in the Lord for their support…and to work! It might also enable them to live sinful lives.
We have already seen how entitlement programs undermine the family and community, trapping their "beneficiaries" in webs of dependency. This is the fruit of indiscriminate giving and will inevitably be the fruit of any programs connected with income equality, should such programs ever be enacted.
We have also seen the utter unsustainability of communism and even socialism. Eastern Europe still has a long way to go before it recovers from the grip of its communist legacy.
Tough love can be merciful. It can motivate people to escape dependency and degradation, as Paul
**For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
It is not surprising that those who were "unwilling to work" were also "idle and disruptive." We undermine the integrity and character of the needy when we give them an income for which they do not work.
Compassion requires understanding and discernment—the very thing that IE programs cannot provide. Instead, if we really care about others, we will give them what they truly need and not a monetary drug that corrupts and addicts.
The poor and needy must have access to the same opportunities that others have. However, equal opportunity is not the same thing as enforced equal income, which has been consistently proven to be destructive, in light of the abject bankruptcy of the communist “experiment.”
Meanwhile, there have been many documented, successful Christian interventions that have dignified the poor and have elevated them out of poverty and the alcoholism that so often accompanies their plight. Marvin Olasky has written extensively and in great detail about some of these outreaches in his book, Compassionate Conservatism.
1. "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you" (Matthew 5:42).
Actually, this isn't a problem verse. If anything, it supports NIE and not IE, by demonstrating the legitimacy of the presence of both those who have and those who have not.
However, this verse does seem to argue against discriminate giving in favor of indiscriminate giving, or, at least, loaning. But we need to remember that Jesus often taught hyperbolically. Yet, even when he “exaggerated for effect,” a case can be made, even within the contest of the Sermon on the Mount, for Jesus’ support of discriminate giving. In this verse, Jesus shows how even God the Father “discriminated”:
**But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:15).
The Father is very discriminate: He forgives only those who forgive!
Jesus even advised others to discriminate against giving to certain people:
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces" (Matthew 7:6).
2. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need (Acts 2:44-45).
This seems to support IE, since all had "everything in common." However, there are several important differences.
For one thing, the believers willingly and voluntarily pooled their resources. In other words, what they did was light years away from the heavy hand of any government compulsion. This is also a classic example of discriminate giving because not everyone was included—only believers!
For another thing, there is no indication that this was to become the norm for the church or society in general. Instead, the way the early church pooled their resources in this case was for a special purpose at a specific time.
At this time, many thousands of devout Jews living in the diaspora were in Jerusalem for Pentecost. A great multitude of them had just become believers and had no other way to learn about the Gospel other than to remain with the Apostles. However, it is probable that their limited funds would not enable them to remain long in Jerusalem. Therefore, it is probable that the Jerusalem believers thought it necessary to support these brethren while they remained.
Finally, nowhere in the Epistles do we find any move whatsoever towards adopting income equality. Instead, the Epistles contain numerous appeals for individual giving as opposed to appeals to a church bureaucracy to give from its corporate account. Thus, the picture is complete. The Scriptures are clear in their unbridled support of NON-income equality!