Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A pastor speaks out against dependency

I was really encouraged today with something I saw for the first time - a prominent evangelical pastor blogger in the West speaking plainly on the problem of dependency in missions. It's Doug Wilson, here.

It can be hard to do this, because one prevailing Western political current is the need to appear "nice". Speaking plainly about this problem appears on the superficial level to be not "nice". But contemporary standards of niceness are not the same as Biblical teaching. The former leads to a pile of useless goo that someone else has to clean up. The latter is realistic, manly and leads to solid growth.

By way of analogy, Wilson points out that a £10,000 tax upon those who are successful and a £10,000 fine against being succesful will affect behaviour the same way the long term. The label has limited importance, whether we wish it to be so or not. Just so, after you hand over cash to the developing world without meaningful, culturally appropriate strings attached to those who could never dream of earning so much, it will make little difference whether you attach a label that says "this is some well-meant help" or say "Hey! We planned, self-disciplined and worked hard, so that you don't have to!" The economic and behavioural realities will work themselves through just the same either way: that's human nature in our fallen world, however "nice" we are with it, and however "nice" the grateful recipient is. As Doug Wilson says, "So God calls us to be involved in missions as though we were parents, called to raise our children up to maturity and independence. But what we have actually given way to is the temptation of being silly grandparents, who think that our job is to spoil everybody rotten. But we need to be fathers, not sugar daddies."

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