When I was a teenager growing up in a lower middle-class family in western Massachusetts, my prospects for success in life were dramatically reversed when my father suffered a major mental health breakdown that required him to be institutionalized for the rest of his life. My Mom and five younger siblings crammed into a much smaller house, while I (then 16) pretty much lived wherever I could, having become quite independent by then due to a desire to avoid my Dad’s increasingly hostile behavior toward me, in part deserved because of my drug- and alcohol-centered lifestyle (since the age of 12). Sometimes I lived with the families of friends. For a while I was on welfare and with three friends had our own house (party central). I spent a brief period in a commune. And sometimes I literally lived on the streets.
One summer vacation from the far-left hippie alternative school I attended after dropping out of high school in 10th grade, I got a temporary job as a groundskeeper at the ultra-exclusive prep school Deerfield Academy, which prepared the children of the very rich to attend the elite universities that would in turn train them how to rule the world. My main job was to maintain the tennis courts – top-quality clay courts, of course (no concrete or asphalt for these kids). But I also did general maintenance, one day being responsible for cleaning out a barn filled with expensively framed paintings it was my job to throw into a giant dumpster. The casual waste appalled me.
If ever I were susceptible to Marxist recruitment, that summer would have been it, but I guess even the Marxists didn’t want the kid I was then, and fortunately I never went that direction.
Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to find a more stalwart opponent of Marxism than I. But my opposition to Marxism is based on its malicious war against Judeo-Christian civilization – not on its (original, ostensible) motivation to solve the genuine problem of vast accumulated wealth and power in the hands of a few at the expense of everyone else. (The elites of that age were even worse than the Zuckerbergs and Bezoses and Gateses of our own.)
I’m not talking about capitalism vs. communism – which is itself a false choice invented by Marxists to control the debate. I’m talking about the biblical concept of stewardship and its duties that are implicit in Judeo-Christian civilization vs. systemic abuse of power for the perpetual self-enrichment of an elite.
Private property is an essential tenet of Christianity implied even in the Ten Commandments. “Thou shall not steal,” and “Thou shall not covet” would be meaningless without a right of private ownership. Even the Christian supposed “experiment with socialism” in Acts 4:32-5:11 was in actuality a voluntary pact, not a government mandate as Acts 5:4 makes clear.
But conversely, God repeatedly warns against “the love of money” and its corrupting influence (e.g. 1 Timothy 6:10), even identifying abundance from commerce as the source of Satan’s rebellion against Him (Ezekiel 28:16-19). God even imposed the Jubilee economic model upon the Hebrews in the Holy Land. Labor contracts were limited to seven-year terms. Transfer of the ultimate commodity, real estate, was limited to 50-year terms.
Yet even in that Israelite economy under the Mosiac law, the solution to human greed and selfishness was not statutes – which can always be outmaneuvered (Matthew 23:23-24). Instead, the solution was the guiding principle best articulated by David in Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” Since God owns everything, including us, we are accountable to Him for how we use His stuff.
When America was still a “God-fearing” nation we were the self-regulated “moral and religious” people for whom the founders created our constitutional republic. Our written laws were relatively few because we followed the spirit of the law and practiced self-restraint out of a sense of accountability to the Law-Giver.
But today we have so many laws we need warehouses to store the books that contain them, and literally no one knows the law in its totality. New thousand-page packages of laws are passed annually that are no longer even read by the legislators before voting on them. Yet, in our conduct we are a lawless society ruled by deeply unethical men and women for whom “principles” and “ideals” are merely sugar-coatings for poisonous social policies.
The term “Social Justice” suggests high principles that have lured many naive but well intentioned people to embrace it. The false promise of a “Great Reset” suggests the ideal of a “Jubilee” that wipes out global debt and gives the world a new start. But in reality “Social Justice” is class warfare pitting the poor-to-middle-class against the lower strata of “the rich,” and the “Great Reset” is a ploy to establish a global China-style Marxist economy marrying communism and predatory corporatism. Both strategies serve only the ultra-rich – the ones the street-level Marxists never seem to target, and the populist conservatives always unthinkingly defend in their unexamined, reductionist definition of “capitalism.”
How do all these diverse ideas tie together? They identify our problem as the collapse of the rule of law into the rule of man, and identify our “masters” as the ultra-rich who want a return to a two-class society in which we are their slaves. And while we placed our hope in a populist movement that fought valiantly to break their yoke – and almost succeeded – they defeated our champion and are now rapidly consolidating their power. I doubt they will let us get that close again.
I believe our best course of action as we await the return of Christ (and continue fighting to overthrow the tyrants) is to actively pursue our own biblical economy amongst ourselves, outside of the elites’ control. If He tarries, we’ll have something to base a restored America upon. If not, we’ll have our best shot at survival through the troubled times ahead.
I’ll offer my ideas about a biblical economy in a future article, but until then I encourage us all to meditate upon the idea and imagine what it might look like in actual practice.
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