By Stephen Bloom | December 21, 2009
“My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift.”
Father Jones went on, teaching the poor how and when to steal: “I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices. I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need.”
The Priest’s justification for his shocking counsel? “My advice does not contradict the Bible’s eighth commandment because God’s love for the poor and despised outweighs the property rights of the rich.” In other words, if you’re poor enough, go ahead and take what you want!
To me, this is all very odd and more than a bit disturbing. I don’t see exceptions or weasel words in the eighth commandment. In my Bible, Exodus 20:15 reads “You shall not steal.” The chapter then goes right into commandments nine and ten, warning us against lying and coveting our neighbor’s stuff.
And aside from the very real risk of getting arrested and sent to jail when you steal, Father Jones’ advice creates a whole new set of problems for the poor (and society).
Just who is entitled to steal? Exactly how poor to you have to be? Is simply having less than someone else enough to make stealing right, or is there an income threshold? Are we all free to keep stealing until everyone is reduced to economic equality?
If we’re allowed to take what we “need,” how much do we need and who decides when we don’t need any more?
And where’s the line between the small family businesses we should leave alone and the large national businesses we should hit? Maybe it’s okay to steal from Walmart but not Home Depot? Okay to steal from McDonalds but not the local burger joint?
I’m sticking with the basic “don’t steal” rule and I would humbly advise you to do the same. If times get tough, there’s plenty of help out there, often from your own church family. Give God a chance to bless you in your time of need, don’t shut him down by twisting his words to justify theft.
Question: Have your needs been supplied by God when you faithfully asked for help?
Topics: Bible |