Missionary Papers: The Preference of Homelessness
Fight for the narrative:
The Central Florida Commission of Homelessness performed a one day census in January 2019 of their homeless population. The results, an 11% decrease in homelessness over the past five years. The verdict is still out whether this is good news to them or bad. The tone of related articles hardly praised the reduction but found ways to criticize results. What’s interesting to monitor is if a commission whose existence is predicated by homelessness will now hinder the decline. One member of the Commission said something telling in this regard: “We won’t get the support of the community to tackle this problem if they believe it’s already been solved.” Commissions created to resolve social problems, unfortunately, tend to help prolong the existence thereof.
The census was performed as commission members trekked Central Florida counties. The areas covered included streets, homeless shelters, people living in cars and those living in the woods. Personally, I would enjoy meeting the individuals that hiked the forests of Central Florida, located and counted the homeless living therein. In America, homelessness is leaving a pestiferous blot on our image. Yet it’s nothing new to report and there should be joy at its reduction. Certain major cities are overrun by their displaced, therefore cities with consistent reduction are good news. It seems though when there is an agenda to push good must be called bad.
Dishonorable political actors further complicate matters by virtue signaling. Their subjective outbursts overshadow people actually laboring to combat the problem. In 2019 topics become newsworthy as media celebrated persons push emotionally charged opinions as information. For instance, Central Florida articles detailing the reduction in homelessness made sure to mention it took place despite lack of low-income housing. This, of course, gives the impression their goal is to attack positions not rid cities of homelessness. Furthermore, the faulty assumption affordable housing would cause less homeless people on the streets is not borne out by the census. Admitting a lack in affordable housing at a time when homelessness in Central Florida is in decline indicates the two are not mutually related. But why allow objective data to stand in the way of political gain?
Reality is an unfortunate casualty when narratives are forcefully maintained. Factual information threatens cunningly devised fables causing political weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. It’s frustrating that few perform basic due diligence; ask why people are homeless. Politicians, the media and intellectual elites so focused on their narrative and possible constituent response fail to concern themselves with the cause of the effect. The ideologists of our society seek to isolate individuals into groups, then teach them that they have been victimized. They have no concern for the individuals within each ill-defined group. The groups themselves become a means to political ends.
Cause and Effect or Reaping and Sowing:
I suppose it’s possible people become homeless through no fault of their own, but I find this supposition hard to believe. Furthermore, fix-all political solutions are unrealistic. The Bible says, “In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.” Surely, if there was labor, there must also have been profit from that labor. In situations where profit from labor did exist, it’s often lost by management. Labor and profit will certainly help the situation, but “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” Both the labor and the profit must then be effectively managed.
To further complicate matters, individuals on the street often isolate themselves by design. Through terrible choices and abusive behavior, they end up with no one to turn to for help. Oftentimes when ministering on the streets we are approached by individuals claiming to be desperately stranded. When asked how they reached a place in life where they have no family or friends at all to call upon, their colorful response verifies nefarious intent.
Ultimately relationships were abandoned due to the fact they come with accountability. Furthermore, the participants of said relationships are often no longer willing to be abused by the individual headed for homelessness. If we fairly consider the few individuals that honestly have no family, we are still required to believe they have made no friends throughout their lifetime. Not to mention the government programs available to people in need. To live homeless on the streets takes effort; starting with efforts to isolate self and reject help.
Willingness to have an honest conversation regarding the cause of homelessness should not be mistaken for lack of compassion. I’m inclined to offer the biblical truth needed to correct lives rather than more resources to mismanage. Feelings toward the harshness of street life are checked by objective realities. Pandering in the form of an emotional-based social justice narrative does nothing to help the situation.
It’s an unfortunate reality the overwhelming majority of individuals on the streets are complicit in their ending up there. Either through complete mismanagement of life or by actual decision to remove themselves from personal obligation. The ease with which people walk away from responsibility is alarming. Furthermore, they are often compensated by modern religious, philosophical and political thought. A biblical approach is seen as harsh and lacking empathy, but none will escape scriptural truth. “Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.” There are means whereby poverty encroaches lives. The Lord Jesus said: “For the poor ye have always with you” – to a certain extent poverty is expected to exist. But, to be homeless is to completely refuse help or responsibility. Rejecting God’s instruction will lead to a tumultuous life of poverty and shame. It should be understood that abandoning obligation and duty is shameful. So often homelessness exists because people have forsaken both the God that created them as well as the world around them. To cope with this world’s failure to resolve this problem, they try and cause shameful consequences to appear heroic.
Yet shame is made manifest when biblical instruction is offered. Unfortunately few respond with humility, most respond in bitterness. The American mindset of instant gratification requires all to pretend to bear no personal responsibility for actions taken. If they could just encourage enough people to feign God is not mocked, if all people would just conclude whatsoever a man soweth he will not reap, maybe it would become true. If the world would come together, not to solve problems, but to remove the consequences thereof, maybe an everlasting utopia of pleasure would finally exist.
But there is a righteous God in heaven! His word says: “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” Improper and ungodly choices have severe consequences. Men may join together in unity against God, but such evil imaginations will lead to foolish and consequential ends. In contrast, trusting God’s word will lead to blessings in every area of life where that trust is found. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” If man could have his way, every day, all the time, the result would be death. The repeated cycles of social troubles in our societies will not be solved by man, obedience to God’s instruction is required. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.” Rejecting the light and the lamp, which is the word of God, moves individuals rapidly into stumbling darkness. Through proper use of God’s word, individuals receive light and guidance to navigate the angry billows life offers.
The vice of pandering:
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” God’s word is harsh toward men that refuse to provide for their own household. This highlights the practical nature of the Bible and magnifies the mind of God concerning irresponsible disobedience. The Lord expects men to work and thereby earn the necessary provision for himself and his family. Rebuke by way of biblical instruction is necessary for a society apt to momentary fun and frolic.
The true social injustice is the family dragged into homelessness by the irresponsible choices of its leader. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or even worse, laziness are preferred rather than diligence and sobriety. Obligation within relationships is seen as an arbitrary choice made based upon undisciplined feelings. The status of the relationship is based upon the person’s feelings that day. Yet the responsibilities of the relationship continue to require attention.
Heroic rhetoric is often spouted in reference to defeating homelessness. Sadly it seems the self-proclaimed heroes have become the enemies. Until the problem is addressed at the individual level and the hard questions are asked, there will be no resolutions. What role did drug addiction play, what role did alcohol abuse play, what role did laziness play, does the person just prefer a life of obscurity? Asking such questions ruin the ability to pander and defy the sense of the morality of this world. God has immutable moral expectations, and the course of this world, in contrast, has its own malleable standard of morality. It’s sort of like an exchange rate, check back daily to see where things stand.
Modern identity politics are the odious divide and conquer ideas of old. Individual lives matter not, each person must be identified by a distinctive group. The group then is stirred to revolt by a series of perceived, but rarely confirmed social injustices. Therefore the homeless have become a group of victims whose failures are caused by some perceived injustice. With the group and its respective injustices duly defined, politicians may now wax eloquent about why they are needed to save the identified group. If only explosive emotion could resolve problems.
Tools of the trade:
To the “solvers of problems” – homeless individuals are tools of the political propaganda trade. Their concern for the homeless only spikes when there is a controlled event (feeding the homeless, clothing drive for the homeless, etc) that provides photo opportunities. Their idea of “helping” the homeless entails responsible men and women that work giving up their money and freedom. Any resistance to such ideas on the part of the employed is seen as further evidence of injustice.
Practical experience with the homeless provides great insight. A number of homeless individuals have simply decided they don’t want to live as responsible members of society. Providing them homes at taxpayer expense does nothing to solve the problem, which is not homelessness, but improper thinking. These prefer the streets rather than a nine-to-five with bills to pay. They ultimately see freedom as living adrift in the darkness of street life and reject programs that provide them a home. Often they are made up of an odd conglomerate of engineers, CEOs, executives, etc. Talented people that refuse to stand up to the duties of daily life. There was no sudden calamity that forced them into the streets, but personal refusal to deal with life’s stress.
Then the group that abandoned fidelity to duty through drug addiction. People of the homeless population overwhelmingly are under the influence of some substance. Indeed endless pursuit of their respective substance of choice render them homeless. My conversations with these individuals have common themes. Ravaged by addiction, finding their next fix is their number one priority. If free housing were provided they would quickly turn new government housing into drug-infested slums.
They often explain in detail the extent to which they loathe their chosen lifestyles. From time to time they desire to change but refuse to take one step in the right direction. As masters of manipulation, undoubtedly, the very conversation about help is often nothing more than a tool to manipulate. In each conversation I have had with them, I offer a place where they can freely get the help they need and presumably desire. Facilities that offer a free and clean space to live. A place they can gain salvation from sin, victory over addiction and escape from homelessness. These places go on to assist with finding work and often times provide training. Not one drug-addicted homeless person has ever accepted my offer.
The rarest of individuals to find on the street are people that actually had some unforeseen trouble arise. A sudden event in life caught them off guard and they lost everything. These are respectable people simply struggling at this moment in life. They do not stay on the streets, if they don’t have any family to help, they stay in rescue missions. They’re honest about the situation and refuse to stay down. Receiving help through various government programs is done so with no intent to abuse such help. To them, the shameful idea that government assistance is a permanent means of income never occurred to them. These are individuals that unfortunately reaped the negative aspects of the course of this present evil world.
In America, one has to work at being homeless, ample assistance is available for people in need. The individual’s dream situation may not be available, but help that will keep them moving in the right direction is available. Between government programs, charity organizations, family, friends and oftentimes complete strangers help are accessible. Remaining homeless in America is a choice made by people that have ulterior motives. Motives that ultimately prevent the person from receiving help. They understand true assistance requires amending their ways as well as discussions regarding the mismanagement of their lives. Hence the hatred this world has for biblical Christianity, God is clear that his ways are not our ways. In fact, man’s ways should be abandoned and replaced by God’s biblical instruction. This idea tends to make people angry rather than thankful for needful guidance. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” Coming to the God of the Bible, whether for salvation or biblical correction, requires a confrontation of ideas. This confrontation requires self-examination in light of biblical instruction. The Bible will point out the flawed thinking of men and then provide the godly alternative. If the individual in question can bring themselves to a place of humility and admit the word of the Lord is right, help is surely available for that person.
Thomas & Kristin Irvin
Ambassadors for Christ