“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Matthew 6:24
As anyone who reads this column will know, I feel that the policy priorities of our government are completely out of line with what (I think) they ought to be. Further, I feel that most of the “benevolence” work ought to be left to private citizens, operating out of the kindness of their heart and the sweat of their brow.
Of late my interests have been in real situations of human oppression that receive little (or comparatively little) attention from the federal or state governments. Issues such as fighting drug addiction, saving the lives of pre-born children, feeding the world’s hungry, and ending human trafficking – especially sexual slavery – are all important to me. In some cases (drug addiction and feeding the hungry) I see no legitimate government role – these are private issues to be addressed by free men. In the others (protecting children from murder and rescuing enslaved people) the government has an obvious role to play. However, in all of them private citizens have a very important and effective roll to play to help win the day and rescue the downtrodden.
I’ve recently begun to reach out more to organizations dealing with human trafficking. It is in this outreach to establish contact with some good organizations that are (a) doing the Lord’s work and (b) could use some support, that I ran across a rather odd but prevalent sentiment from one organization. The statement, which gave rise to this post, is a recapitulation of a favorite amongst progressives. Here is the statement: “It is also clear that ultimately, child trafficking is always the result of unequal distribution of wealth. Only a determined fight against poverty can eliminate the root cause of child trafficking.”
I do not intend to divulge the originator of this nonsense. They want to fight against child trafficking and I wish them well. What I want to do is disabuse any Christians reading this, of this prevailing thought amongst progressive ideologues. To paraphrase: “poverty is the root cause of [enter sin here].” This, of course, should appear quite an obvious distortion of a well known Bible verse – these people ultimately believe “poverty is the root of all evil.”
While we could obviously attempt to address this in natural terms (an argument along the lines of “correlation is not causality”), I feel it more appropriate to address it in explicit spiritual terms. For the agnostic, athiest, buddhist, or muslim; I apologize – I will be speaking in very Christian terms using a Christian worldview.
The Christian worldview dictates that man is “fallen” (Gen 3); that man is rebellious against God (Acts 7:51-53); that man prefers darkness to light (John 3:19). The root cause of sin is the sin-nature of man (Psalm 51:5, I John 1:8). We, the Christians, need look no farther for a “root cause” of sin.
As for the “unequal distribution of wealth” – this is a rather clear (I think) perversion of the truth. Consider the Lord’s statement in the lead quote: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Your god, whom you worship and serve, will either be the Lord God, or earthly wealth.
For those who worship the world’s wealth, the world’s system, money-money-money; the idea of poverty as a root cause makes perfect sense. If you are poor, you have less access to their god (money). This puts you at a clear disadvantage. I mean, people who have a less close relationship with god (money) will surely be more prone to sin. Of course we Christians hold a not-so-different view: we feel that those who do not have a relationship with God, available only through repentance of sin and the blood of Jesus Christ, are much more prone to giving in to their sin nature. It is the definition of “the Lord” on which we disagree, not the mechanism.
To the Christian, arguments railing about “unequal distribution of wealth” wreak of pride, jealousy, and envy – these ought not be named among us. (Suppose all were wealthy – just unequally so, is this cause for sin?) No, our way is described by Paul in Phillipians 4:11-13: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” When we see a brother who prospers, we ought to rejoice for them (I Cor 12:26, Rom 12:15) – not whine about our lowly state. We ought to be thankful for the blessings of the Lord (Phil 4:4), not contending that injustice reigns because of “wealth disparity”.
No, money is not our God. Fighting poverty to end sin is like fighting domestic abuse to prevent forest fires. Fighting for greater resource efficiency, world hunger, the needs of our fellow men have a benefit and a calling of their own (Matt 25:31-46). This will not snuff out human trafficking or the human sin-nature.