Posted by Mark Moore at Arkansas Watch on February 17, 2013
The Incomplete Sermon on Coveting
I listened to a sermon on coveting today. It was not a bad sermon. It was probably quite serviceable for most folks. My wife and I however, joke around about starting our own church called “the church of the not easily satisfied” because we both have minds which have a tendency to focus straight on any flaws in logic, or mis-statement of fact, or doctrinal imbalance in what we hear.
Despite this unfortunate trait of noticing the flaws that most people can live their life just fine without bothering to notice, we get along quite well. Even my enhanced powers of flaw detection don’t seem to have come up with anything non-trivial in her, and I am convinced she has just found some way to turn her observational powers off when looking at me. I say all this to say we have found our nit-picking flaw-that-most-don’t-notice-but-we-think-is-the-big-picture-is-really-important this morning.
The minister used a definition for “covetousness” which was really the general definition for “greed”. It was something like “always wanting more” or “never being satisfied even though you have more than you need”. I always thought that to “covet” was a specific type of greed- wanting something that rightfully belonged to someone else. “Wow, what a nit-picker that guy is” some of you are thinking. But I think the distinction is important, and that there is a pattern emerging where American pastors do not seem to want to address this difference.
Much of the activity of our government today is built around taking earnings or possessions away from their rightful owners and giving it to someone to whom it does not belong. One of the ten commandments specifically forbids it, but we have a political system practically built around it! Just the idea that someone has more than we do seems to be justification enough for the government to take it away from them and convert it into some kind of “entitlement” for the rest of us. Failure to address what the specific sin of coveting is only provides cover for the unrighteousness that is turning us from a nation of neighbors and communities working together to constantly shifting coalitions of interest groups fiercely lobbying the government to loot everyone outside the coalition for the benefit of everyone inside it.
The same goes in the other direction. If “always wanting to have more” is sin, no matter how you use it or how well you serve others to get it, then people who resist the government’s attempts to re-distribute their earnings are the sinners, not the ones coveting the possessions of those who have more.
The wife also made note that pastors in American always use examples of overseas where people are very poor to contrast our relative affluence. They imply that these more primitive cultures have less problem with coveting than we do. Our take is that the scriptures warning against coveting were written for very primitive cultures, so the phenomena is universal to humanity. And the fact is you NEED a lot more stuff to operate in a modern economy. Add to it that most of us not only have more stuff, we have more DEBT and more MONTHLY BILLS to go along with it. So, yeah, we are not as care-free as somebody living off of the land in some 3rd world country. We need a lot of economic input to provide a lot of economic output- for things like paying pastor’s salaries and helping feed people in third world countries!
Mark Moore is a long time activist and policy wonk with an extensive political resume. He describes his current political label as “Localist”, a philosophy of government best described in this E-book “Localism, A Philosophy of Government” (for Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Localism-A-Philosophy-Government-ebook/dp/B00B0GACAQ/ref=pd_rhf_pe_p_t_2_GB3H)
(On Barnes and Noble Nook et al: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/localism-a-philosophy-of-government-achbani/1114141668?ean=2940015982688)