Christians, as I have attempted to show in past posts, should have many reasons for opposing socialism and socialistic policies. It retards individual productivity and neglects and destroys God's plan for the family and human government. Perhaps even more odious though is socialism's removal of the idea of private property. Whereas the Bible affirms the Lord's ownership of the world "and all it contains" (Psalm 24:1) and God's delegation of stewardship to humans (Gen 1:28), socialism affirms the totalitarian rule of the government (even when it is democratically elected).
It is clear in the early parts of the scriptures that God has not only created human life, but will not allow anyone to unjustly take life, such as in the case of Cain and Abel. A person's life is in effect owned by God and God has in effect given each man stewardship over his own life. His own decisions may lead to health, prosperity and good relationships, or his decisions may lead to pain, and physical and spiritual problems. A life can produce all sorts of things such as food, clothing, and materials. So life is the foundation of private property, which is essentially the ability to keep the fruit of one's labors and pass it on freely. This is affirmed in Exodus 20:13-17, which states that you should not murder, commit adultery, steal or "covet your neighbor's house...or anything that belongs to your neighbor". Can we take the things our neighbor has produced with his own labors? No, they are his, even though we may think our lot in life was unjust.
Socialistic policies often take the very fruits of human labors and they often tax the owners of property so citizens become serfs to their own government, which in turn acts as the "noble" lord in this modern day example of feudalism. Even if we say pure socialism does not take private property because their is no private property in pure socialism we run in to a biblical problem. If all property is public then the state owns that which God designed individual humans to tend and enjoy. How can a person show compassion and give to the needy if he has no property to give? If God expects you to "divide your bread with the hungry" (Isaiah 58:7), then you can not carry out His command. Jesus affirmed private property when he commended those who gave what was "theirs" to others.
One reason that socialists get nervous about allowing people to freely handle their own money is that they know some people will respond like the rich young ruler. Probably he was given his wealth through an inheritance (hence his wealth and position in youth). When Jesus asked him to "sell his possessions and give to the poor", he "went away grieved" and decided to keep his possessions (Matthew 19:21-22). The socialists fear that wealth will simply be collected by the rich to get richer. However, the socialists deny two important things: the power of God and the principles of economics. First, God has the power to change even the most selfish life and use it for good (such as with Zaccheus in Luke 19). Second, people need to fulfill the desire of another person to gain economically from them. If I want food, I am willing to pay for it and the farmer gains money. The fact that this rich man was a ruler probably indicates that he got money through taxation or domination over others (not by providing a true economic service), which ironically is the very thing the socialists are willing to accept by the government. The very oppression they hope to stop becomes universal under socialism. That is what led Winston Churchill to state (at least as my memory recalls it) that " the vice of capitalism is the inequality of its riches, while the virtue of socialism is the equality of it misery".
(My next post will develop further this ideal of material equality and what it means for a Christian.)