Government is also ordained by God for the public good

June 25, 2011 in Question of the Week, What is government's role in caring for the poor? Should churches and civic groups do more? by Warner Davis

On Monday, the Shelby County Commission restored funding for the Office of Early Childhood and Youth this week after first voting to cut the program, which works to reduce infant deaths and teen pregnancies.

Commissioners Wyatt Bunker and Terry Roland spoke against funding the program, arguing that churches and civic organizations — not government — should care for the poor.

“These type social programs should not and should never have existed in government,” Bunker said.

“I’m like my friend, Commissioner Bunker: This should be taken care of through the churches,” Roland said.

What is government’s role in caring for the poor in Memphis and Shelby County? Should churches and civic groups do more?

According to the Westminster Confession, a creed of my church, the state is an institution ordained by God for the public good as the church is. Such a view corresponds with the Declaration of Independence’s statement about securing human rights and the word in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States about promoting the general welfare.

All to say, government, no less than the church, has a role in caring for the poor. However, government should play the role within its means, not beyond. Hence, the need for good stewardship in determining budgetary allocations.