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PATRICK - Why does the church have a welfare system, specifically individuals? Should it be the church's position to help the single mom? I'm not saying yes or no, just wondering why?
JOEL - First of all the Church has a welfare system because God told us to have one:
"And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church and his counselors, two of the elders, or high priests, such as he shall appoint or has appointed and set apart for that purpose.
Therefore, the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy, as shall be appointed by the high council of the church, and the bishop and his council;" (DC 42:31, 34)
"All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.
And after that, they have claim upon the church, or in other words upon the Lord’s storehouse, if their parents have not wherewith to give them inheritances.
And the storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor. Amen" (DC 83:4-6)
This is in line with the counsel of Jesus when He said:
"For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." (Matt 25:35-36)
And King Benjamin:
"And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants." (Mosiah 4:26)
The Church follows the example of Alma and his people:
“And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.
And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions. …
And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.” (Alma 1:27–30.)
In other words it doesn't matter what caused the need to give welfare to someone; it is just given to those who need it. It doesn't matter if they are in prison, or have a drug problem, or a single mom who had a baby out of wedlock, or just have a hard time doing their hometeaching. Even though the single mom might have committed a sin which put her in that situation, remember there is still an innocent child that needs the help. If welfare could only be given to the sinless, there would be no welfare system at all.
The Bishop is the judge in Israel who has been set apart to determine who should get the help and how the needs of the poor in his ward are best met.