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Reader questions Rep. Darrio Melton’s use of scripture

Dear editor,

I was intrigued by Darrio Melton’s editorial last week in The Selma Times-Journal. As a pastor, I was particularly curious about the Scripture quotes he cited to support his positions.

I agree with his premise — Christians have a moral obligation to help the poor and needy, infirmed, afflicted, unemployed and orphans.

Melton claimed we need to “make health care more accessible to all Alabamians.” It was my understanding that The Affordable Care Act was supposed to solve this issue. If it does not and cannot do that, who is to blame?

Mr. Melton claimed Christians should “make sure that our neighbors are not going without food or shelter.” Is he unaware of all the churches and ministries who do those exact things? Is he aware that they do them better than any government program ever has or can? Do some people fall through the cracks?

Absolutely, but that happens with government programs in much bigger numbers. The best and most efficient charity happens in local neighborhoods and communities, not as dictated from government offices hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Melton condemned legislators who “are seldom willing to come forward and support legislation that does the work we were instructed to do as Christians.”

Where did Jesus or His apostles tell the government to do these things? He quoted Jesus’ commands to people in order to support his advocacy of government programs, as if government is the only entity capable of fulfilling those roles. On the contrary, the Scriptures he quoted were written to individuals, not to the Roman government.

Nowhere did Jesus, or any other New Testament writer, condemn or reproach the government for not taking care of those who need it. Every single command of this nature was given to followers, not to the legal establishment.

Melton rightly quoted John 14:12, 1 John 3, Matthew 22:37-39 and Mark 12:30, but he failed to notice that in all these cases, they were not written or spoken to those who cast votes, but to those who take up their cross to follow Christ.

I agree with Melton — we who claim Him as our Master can do more. And I agree that putting the Ten Commandments up at the Department of Motor Vehicles will not solve these issues.

I disagree with him, however, about who is responsible for fulfilling these commands. An inefficient, wasteful, sometimes corrupt, always bureaucratic government cannot do it better than individuals to whom these marching orders were given. And historically, Christians — individually and as churches and ministries — have done more to actually help people throughout the centuries than any government’s good intentions.

Intentions do not matter; results do. And only individuals have the power of God available to achieve those results.


John Boles

 Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Camden