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Joseph Wiltse, Lisbon, N.D., Published September 28 2013

Letter: Cramer distorts biblical lessons

Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., replied in response to a biblical argument against cutting food stamps with 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (English Standard Version): “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

I will give Cramer the benefit of the doubt and assume he has not read the other verses in this incredible short letter by the Apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica – or any other letters written by Paul, because if he had, he would have known better.

The verse that Cramer used to justify cutting food stamps is not about not giving aid to those who cannot help themselves. Paul isn’t talking about people who cannot find a job or people who do not have the physical capacity to work. Paul isn’t even talking about people who need support their entire lives. Paul is speaking about a specific problem of people with capacity and opportunity to work who live exclusively off the gifts and grace of other people.

Why are these people living this way? Well, some Thessalonians were not working because Paul taught the imminent return of Christ and that he might come back at any time. They thought, “What’s the point of working if Christ will be here soon? I might as well enjoy this time!” Christ didn’t return soon, or within their lifetime, and when they ran out of money and food, they started living off their fellow Christians. This was causing big relational problems in this small church. That is what Paul was addressing.

Maybe. Cramer needs to re-read the Gospels, specifically Matthew 25.