Summary: The OT Law of Israel presented the principle of solicitude for the needy thru concrete actions. Christians must adapt these tutorial lessons by the heart of Christ. The Church must exercise the principle of solicitude for the needy concretely.
The Causes of Hunger:
From NAMB—Issues & Answers: Hunger
The causes of hunger are multidimensional & deny the temptation of simple answers. Hunger does not result simply from the lack of rain or overpopulation. It is not just a matter of poor economic choices. Hunger is complex & often misunderstood.
A major contributing factor to hunger is war. Civil & international wars cause hunger through the disruption of farming, the destruction of marketing facilities, the displacement of people, & the decline of economic growth.
At the height of the 1984-1985 African famine, civil wars raged in five nations: Angola, Mozambique, Chad, Ethiopia, & the Sudan. These nations housed the largest bulk of those Africans who faced hunger.
National & international economic decisions contribute to hunger. In the United States, some people face hunger due to unfair taxes. The sales tax on food, for example, reduces the amount of income available to the poor to purchase food. Another example is the lack of governmental competitive bidding on the purchase of commodities supplied to welfare recipients, which decreases the amount of funds available.
Some government-controlled market economies create hunger when they encourage the growth of cash crops rather than food crops12. Growing cotton rather than grain may be good for a nation’s balance of payments, but it takes away the incentive for rural farmers to grow food. Additionally, global consumer patterns sometimes contribute to hunger.
The most fertile farmland in the Third World is often diverted from producing food for domestic consumption to food for foreign consumption. Coffee, cocoa, sugar, & tea are grown for the breakfast tables of northern industrialized nations, rather than cereals for those in impoverished lands.
Almost everyone recognizes that too little rain causes droughts & too much rain causes floods, both of which lead to crop failure & then famine. More & more people are beginning to understand the interrelated nature of the ecological system. For example, the Sahara Desert is being pulled 10 miles southward every year due to man-made causes. Overgrazing, over-cultivation, & deforestation have transformed once productive farm lands into wastelands.
Environmental mismanagement destroys natural barriers to soil & wind erosion, uprooting the very things that hold moisture & fertile soil in place. The loss of topsoil may account for declining crop yields.
Perhaps no cause of hunger is more hotly debated within some circles than the issue of the relationship between population & hunger.
Some people think that overpopulation causes hunger. They reason that too many mouths to feed exist in a world with too little food. Their solution to the hunger problem is to reduce birthrates, especially in nations with soaring rates.
A second group believes that hunger & economic insecurity cause overpopulation. They argue that impoverished parents often have many children in order to contribute to the work force & in hopes that some will provide for them in their old age. This group holds that the solution to overpopulation is economic security.
The third group thinks that the problem is not overpopulation at all. The problem is not too many mouths to feed, but an inadequate food distribution system. They point out that the world produces in grain alone enough food for everyone to have 3,500 calories a day13.
Blaming hunger on overpopulation is a popular approach. It allows people to feel that the hunger problem is someone else’s problem. It frees them from a sense of responsibility.
The debate over the relationship between overpopulation & hunger is unlikely to disappear in the near future. It has been debated for over a century. It is probably going to be discussed as long as large population centers place enormous stress on certain nations through environmental destruction, unemployment, & governmental instability.
Perhaps one of the most serious causes of hunger is apathy within the Christian community. Christians have been moved to make occasional contributions to hunger relief efforts. But when quick-fix solutions have not appeared, we have become discouraged & have begun to think that we cannot make a difference. Often we just give up.
WORLD HUNGER OFFERING DAY—
Cause of Hunger(above)
Solicitude— ‘Attentive care & protectiveness—An attitude of earnest concern & attention.’
The OT Law of Israel presented the principle of solicitude for the needy thru concrete actions.
God’s Law presents the principle of solicitude for the needy in/thru concrete actions.
1—WHAT does it mean to shoulder solicitude for the needy?
What does it mean for me personally?
Explanation/Argumentation (Lev. 19:9-10; Deut. 24:19-22) Sacrifice
In practical terms:
Lev. 19:9-10—“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor & the stranger: I am the LORD your God.”