Occupy the Bible

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The fundamental error the Left makes in their social gospel is to equate wealth with morality.

The Bible has a lot to say about wealth, poverty and morality.

But the one thing the Bible does NOT do is make either wealth or poverty an outward sign of any person’s moral virtue or lack thereof.

The Left says having wealth is proof positive of an evil heart. But the Bible says that wealth is a blessing from God.

“Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him.” ~Genesis 26:12

“The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.” ~Job 42:12

The Left says that anyone who works hard is a greedy, hateful bastard. But the Bible says that laziness is bad, saving and investing are good, and hard work is meant to bring profit.

“One who is slack in his work is a close relative of one who destroys.” ~Proverbs 18:9

“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. ~Proverbs 10:4

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Proverbs 13:22

The Left says people who work for others are “wage slaves” and that people who benefit from the work of others are evil. The Bible says the opposite.

Anyone who does not take care of his own family “has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” ~1 Timothy 5:8

“King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.” ~2 Chronicles 9:22

And Jesus tells a parable in which he commends the two servants who worked to increase their master’s wealth, while condemning the one who refused to do so. (Luke 19:11-26)

The Left quotes “Blessed are the poor” from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to supposedly prove that the rich are bad and the poor are good. But Jesus did not say “Blessed are the poor.” He said,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” ~Matthew 5:3

The distinction is enormous. “The poor” are those who lack material wealth. “The poor in spirit” are those who know they need God (not the government).

Some point to Luke 18:18-20 as justification for their lionizing of the poor and condemnation of the wealthy. In this passage, we learn of a time when a wealthy ruler asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life.

Jesus recited the commandments … do not murder, do not commit adultery, etc. The man said he had always done those things.

Jesus then said, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the rich man heard this, “he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.”

Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

If rich people could never enter the Kingdom of God, it is easy to see why some assume this means all rich people are evil. But that interpretation makes no sense, since it would have to follow that when the Bible says God “blessed” Isaac and Job with wealth, he was giving them the very things that would keep them out of His Kingdom!

I was taught that the “eye of the needle” was a gate in Jerusalem that a loaded camel couldn’t fit through, but I read an article on-line that says there is no historical basis for this and that what makes more sense is that Jesus was simply employing hyperbole, which was a common teaching tool in Jewish communities.

I have to agree, since He does the same thing in at least two places in the Sermon on the Mount:

“If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.” ~Matthew 5:30

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye?” ~Matthew 7:3

So, yes, Jesus did tell that one rich guy he had to give up all his worldly goods. But maybe that’s because that man was more attached to his stuff than he was to God.  After all, another teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is,

“You cannot serve both God and money.” ~Matthew 6:24

And Jesus did NOT tell Zacchaeus, another very rich man, that he had to give away all of his possessions to gain eternal life. When Zacchaeus declared,

“Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus declared, “Today salvation has come to this house.” ~Luke 19:8-9

Obviously, wealth and poverty in and of themselves are morally neutral. Ditto, debt.

The Bible makes it clear that debt is something to avoid.

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” ~Proverbs 22:7

But the Bible also says it is okay, sometimes even laudable, to lend. Surely, God would not tell us to participate in causing another to sin. However, if we do borrow, He definitely expects us to pay it all back!

“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” ~Matthew 5:42

“When a man … takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” ~Numbers 30:2

The Left boasts a great many loud and mean-spirited people demanding free stuff. The Bible gives us St. Paul:

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” ~Philippians 4:11-13

Could the Government Gimme Occupying Lefties GET any further from God’s truths? 




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3 responses to “Occupy the Bible

  1. chrissythehyphenated

    Dearest passed this blog on to our pastoral associate and he wrote this back:

    I agree with the substance of what Chrissy says here, namely that wealth is neither intrinsically good or evil, but is in itself morally neutral.

    It would seem to me that Christ’s encounter with the rich young man highlights the issue of detachment, or affective poverty.

    Effective poverty is the simple measure of how much wealth one has. Affective poverty is the real issue: what one’ s relationship to that wealth is, one’s inner disposition. The rich young man seemed more focused on his wealth and human relationships as his source of security, than in his vocation from Christ.

    It seems to me that what we’re being challenged to do in this passage is not to give up wealth for the sake of giving up wealth, but not to let whatever wealth we have become a source of false security for us that trumps God (i.e., harming ourselves by living contrary to the first Commandment). God’s call for the majority of us is, as secular laypeople, to responsibly use our skills and material wealth, just as you articulate.

    A minority of Christians, it seems, are called to follow Christ in the religious life… but even they must responsibly manage wealth–even if as communities in their convents, monasteries, etc., rather than as private individuals.

    In short, the idea that the rich should be villified for simply being rich, and/or the poor should be villified simply for being poor is certainly no part of the corpus of Catholic Tradition and teaching. I am quite glad that you are well-aware of this, and I join you in pitying any who live this misguided, un-Christian, and just plain irrational view.


  2. Ting

    I like this, and your essay, too.