One of the constant refrains that provide the background noise to our contemporary political debates is the idea, oft repeated, that liberals are open-hearted, generous, ready to share, while conservatives are pinched souls, close-fisted, and skinflinty. The problem is that we have a lot of data on this, and the data shows, in remarkably broad and diverse ways, that the stereotype is the reverse of the truth.
Liberals are generous with other people’s money, and they make their generosity known at the polling places. And, having voted for the next in an endless series of proposed social programs, they brush their hands together as though they have done their duty. This is their equivalent of saying “I gave at the office,” although what they really did at the office was vote for someone else at the office to give. Conservatives don’t believe that it is the government’s job to redistribute income, and they vote that way, so the common stereotype maintains that they believe this because they don’t believe that it is anyone’s job to redistribute income. Let the underprivileged suffer and die, or so the caricature goes.
But the data shows (actually, mountains of data show) that conservatives are overwhelmingly more generous to the needy than liberals. Conservatives donate far more money than liberals do, and when you examine the recipients that each donating group is likely to select, you see that liberals are far more likely to give to arts groups, film festivals, or museums — at wine and brie fundraisers — while conservatives are far more likely to give to medical missions, hurricane relief, etc.
Now speaking very generally, I think we can say that in Scripture economic sins are weightier than sexual sins. I say “generally” because it is obvious that violent rape is worse than shoplifting a pack of M&Ms, and it should also be clear that sins are not sealed off tight in their own categories. Is abortion a sexual sin or an economic sin? Both, actually, in addition to some others. It is one of the worst, getting to the head of the list in multiple categories.
So we have to hold this point loosely, but we can still hold it tightly enough to make this application. Liberals are like Ananias and Sapphira — they wanted to have the reputation of being far more generous than they were actually willing to be. And when they fell down dead because of this imposture, because of their economic sin, the whole community feared God, and gave glory to Him. But in certain key respects, contemporary liberals are far worse than Ananias and Sapphira, though they are sinning along the same lines. They do this sin one better. Suppose they had not just been personally less generous than they pretended to be, which is what happened. Suppose they had accused Barnabas, who gave far more than they did, of being a tightwad. Suppose they had written a autobiographical book that boasted of their largesse and large souls, of their dismay over “two Americas,” and of their hatred of those profiteers who built their empires on the backs of the poor (by giving them jobs). Suppose their book spent a lot of time sneering at Dick Cheney, who gave 77% percent of his income to charity in 2005, while they, combined, had given $652 worth of used furniture to Goodwill. Now what?
Liberals who fall into this trap, and there are unfortunately many of them, do not fear God. If you feared God, how could you even think up the idea of accusing people far more generous than you of being evil, stingy people?