To Give or Not To Give? (Helping Those Who Should Be Able to Helpful Themselves)

Hopping Hadrian's Wall

I responded to the following question on social media recently. I see it as a reformulation of that perennial question: “How should we, as middle-class Christians, respond to the needs of the poor in our immediate vicinity?” This question is especially pertinent when it seems like those asking for help should be able to do more for themselves.

I have a long-time friend who is homeless and has been that way as long as I have known him. He is in his early 50s but claims that since he is an orphan, everyone should take care of him. He references James 1:27 for support, particularly its statement “to visit orphans and widows in their distress.” He basically uses this to defend his ongoing refusal to work.

I replied by saying that that passage talks about people who are helpless (hence the phrase “in their distress”), and also that there is…

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