Do Toys Give to Beggars?

When I was a Gospel Doctrine teacher, there was a time when somebody asked me if I thought that God made the earth out of nothing. I, of course, wanted to immediately respond that I think even God has to follow certain laws, like how you can’t make something out of nothing (unless you saw where my life was a few years back at BYU and where I am now, then you might question science). However, we skipped the discussion in class to avoid the inappropriate “Doctrine of Larrie.” I chose not to abuse my INCREDIBLE power and knowledge that made me the teacher, not them.

Now, Alaska is one of my Gospel Doctrine teachers (and all I have to worry about on most Sundays is how wrinkled the table cloth is in Relief Society). This Sunday, I was waiting to hear “The Gospel According to Alaska” in regards to a question he asked, but he opted for the “here’s a new topic” to avoid furthering the debate. So what were the Misfit Toys debating about, you ask? Alaska’s question was something along the lines of, “Is it correct to give to beggars?” He prefaced this with a couple of instances where he gave money to somebody “in need,” and found out later that their stories of need were bunk.

So how do you answer the question? Should be a pretty simple yes or no. In class yesterday, after Alaska asked the question, I raised my hand to share my opinion, but another was called on first. So he shared his opinion, then one of the women raised her hand to counter. Without telling you my opinion (clearly a VERY difficult thing for me to do when writing), here are the arguments for a yes answer and a no answer (not verbatim).

No: If the Prodigal Son had been receiving free charity, he wouldn’t have been slumming with swine and may not have broken down and returned to daddy. If we give free handouts, how can the beggar learn to earn his pay? (See Luke 15:11-32.)

Yes: What the beggar does with a handout doesn’t cheapen the spirit of charity behind the donation and it’s not our place to judge. We cannot determine a “worthy beggar.” (See Mosiah 4:17-24.)

So what’s your take? Yes or no? Or perhaps, which answer do you think I agree with?

(P.S. Does it matter who said what? The “no” came from a member of the bishopric; the “yes” came from the FHE co-chair. Hmm…)

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12 comments

  1. If the parable of the prodigal son was about economics/politics maybe I could see it referring to the Republican-friendly “spin” (to put it mildly) of the gospel in the “no” argument; or if the Lord was in the habit of leaving us high and dry when we’re not making good choices. Since neither are the case the – I don’t even want to call it interpretation. How about extrapolation – of the Luke scripture is a far stretch. The Mosiah scripture on the other hand is quite clear, direct, applicable and actually supports the second argument. Based on these, I have to go with “yes”.

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  2. The next time you see the bishopric member who answered “no” you might think about slipping him a note with this reference on it: Matthew 25:31-46.

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  3. Good scripture. Although you could say that those on the right hand of God are doing more than just giving free handouts.

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  4. They are probably doing it in the best ways they know how – in lots of ways. One thing they are likely not doing is doing it in a way that maintains parental control over those they feel superior to and consider to be lazy.

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  5. *sigh*

    You had to blog about this, didn’t you?!

    I was kind of hoping that no one would never speak of this incident again.

    In my defense, I let his dog-poop analogy fly during RS, the infusion of politics into the lesson was just the straw the broke the camel’s back.

    Besides, I tried to make Kasi use her token liberal status to make the rebuttal and she refused. Someone had to do it!

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  6. The island wouldn’t be the same without you, Heather. Thank you thank you. And now I can give Kas a hard time for not speaking up. wimp

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  7. How sad that I missed this!! Thanks to the “RS sister” for saying her piece! I do find the no pretty funny but after much deliberation I agree with the yes. I do have a hard time giving out money but I do like to give the canned items and a donut to a needy human once in a while.
    Was that ok Larrie? I guess I could have just said YES haha

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  8. Oh that this kind of thing weren’t so controversial among the members. The gospel doesn’t fit into a Republican box. It’s way too big. If only people would make their politics conform to their religion instead of the other way around. Remember: “If it’s plain (in the scriptures), ease the strain”. Just go with it. We’ll understand later. Or better yet, ask the Lord.

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  9. It is good to give. It is not good to give unwisely. We are all stewards for the resources we have been given and we will be called to account for the way they were used. My rule is: give food or services to anyone who asks for it, but save the money for shelters, food banks, churches, and other charaties. If these orginizations are well funded, there is no reason for someone to beg on the corner – unless they are trying to get more money than they could get by working at an honest job, or unless they are trying to get money for drugs and alcohol.

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  10. The best way to understand how to proceed in our charitable giving I think is to first internalize something else King Benjamin taught: That we are less than the dust of the earth. Only then can we truly understand what our “wisdom” is worth. We are no better than beggars, because we are beggars, too. Our attempts to be prudent with our substance are grossly misguided because our substance isn’t actually ours.

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  11. Joseph,

    Unless your pockets and bank account are always empty — unless you have given away everything you have and everything you will ever have, you have set boundries and limits to what you should give. If you have not given away everything, then we are only talking about where those limits should be set.

    I agree with your basic premise — all resources belong to God, just as our very bodies do. I feel strongly, however, that these resources have been placed in our care and that we should make sure we use them for good rather than evil and that means being selective when giving.

    If it is our desire to give, God will provide constructive oportunities enough; we are not expected to fuel the addicitons that plague so many simply because they are beggers.

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