The poor will always be among us and how we treat the poor speaks about who we are as people and as a nation. I read two opposing views concerning the care of the poor in local papers this past week. One in The Macon County News (6-27-2013) and the other in The Franklin Press 6- 28-2013) Written as letters to the editors, both use Biblical references to defend their views on government programs for the poor.
One letter makes use of Mark 14:7 where Jesus is to have said, "You will always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to, you can give to them." There is no mention as to the context of this story. Jesus was admonishing those who were scolding the woman who was anointing him with expensive perfume. Yes, the expensive perfume could have been used to benefit the poor, but the overlaying theme was about Jesus and his death and burial. It was not care of the poor.
The other letter tells the story of Jesus coming to the aid of Legion, the demon-possessed man. Jesus causes the demons to be transferred to the swine and sends the swine over a cliff to their deaths. The writer then infers that the wealthy owners concern is over the loss their pigs. Read this as you will, but the message, for me, is not about a capitalist loss or money for the poor. It is about compassion for another human being.
Both letters make reference to allowing the poor to "glean" from the fields. One says the government goes astray in giving too much assistance. The other claims the government has become misguided about their responsibilities to the poor.
It appears both letters were an attempt to use the Bible to support their particular viewpoint. By selecting and paraphrasing the Bible without placing their selection in proper context, they misconstrue the Bible for their own purposes. I prefer to read and study the Bible for inspiration in making my own decisions on what I believe is right for me and the America I love. In doing so, I have found many other verses and readings that have influenced my viewpoint concerning the poor. For example: Exodus 22:25, Matthew 6:2, or Mark 10:21. Read them and ponder the message for yourself. And, remember the most fundamental commandment of all, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."
Judith Perry — Franklin, N.C.