This picture and slogan has showed up in my Facebook feed. I find it quite ironic.
Jesus fed the 5000 men plus women and children by miraculously creating more bread as he divided up 5 loaves and 2 fish (Mark 6.30-44). He also fed 4000 men plus women and children from seven loaves (Mark 8.1-10). So, naturally, some wit had to put the words into the scene: “We can’t feed all these people; that would create dependency!”
Before I explain the irony, let me first point out the absurd libel contained in the words. The message equivocates between 1) governments using force to take from people and justify their plunder by claiming (!) to help people, and 2) people voluntarily giving what they produce to help out people who need help. Conservatives believe in, and are known to, help people out. It is simply false to claim that they refuse to help people because they are worried about dependency.
Another deception involved in the captioned picture is the idea that people who opposed “the welfare state” are necessarily hurting poor people. Some believe that the society would be wealthier, and thus have fewer poor people if the government stayed entirely out of charity. That is my own view. But whether or not that is a correct ethical or economic viewpoint is a different question than whether or not one should support our current welfare state. Our current welfare state deals very little with the poor and mostly sets up a financial rube-goldberg machine to siphon money from the middle class in order to promise benefits to the middle class—all of which supports a political/government class at the expense of the middle class. The poor are given a pittance out of that (leaving aside the additional problem of fraud) and used as hostages for the regime. Middle class foolishness and selfishness is driving the welfare state and leaving little for the truly poor.
But the irony of this entire argument from the Gospel stories is that the Bible tells us that , even though what Jesus did was a good deed, it did indeed risk creating dependency. Jesus actually had to argue against and rebuke the same people whom He fed in order to deal with that problem. This is revealed to us in John’s Gospel, chapter 6 especially beginning with verse 14.
Jesus had to flee from the people he helped because they wanted to force him to become their king. When they tracked him down the next day, there was a confrontation:
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal” (John 6:25-27, ESV).
And Jesus goes on trying to convince people that they have the wrong priorities and are doing the wrong thing because they want more free food.
Even though it is good to be generous, the concern about creating dependency is right there in the Bible. You really have to deal with it.