This is part of a series of posts on the sin of Assimilation. Click here to see the entire series.
Exodus 20: 17 says, “You shall not covet…anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
It is recognized by biblical interpreters that this commandment differs from the others in that it is an internal law rather than an external law. As an internal law, it has no visible sanctions associated with breaking it. Coveting is something that takes place inside the mind of an individual and it is not possible to bring discipline against someone for what they think. It is recognized that this commandment ends the list because it points out the fact that murdering, stealing, committing adultery, and bearing false witness all have their foundation in the attitude of covetousness. This is the foundation for Jesus later elaboration on the commandments in His Sermon on the Mount where He points out that outward compliance with the prohibitions to steal, lie, murder, and have sex with your neighbors wife are not sufficient for a clear conscience in the presence of God. God requires that the thoughts of the mind also be free of these sins.
The political system of the United States is built upon the assumption of pandering to the covetous nature of its citizens. Although it was certainly not the intention of those who originally crafted the form of government under which we live, we have nevertheless devolved to the lowest common denominator of political activity. How does a political aspirant get elected today? Easy. Promise the most political pork for your constituents. If you live in an area with lots of retirees, promise free prescription drug coverage. If you live in area with lots of young families, promise government loans in order to purchases houses. If you live in a ranching area, promise price supports for beef prices. If you live in a farming area, promise low cost crop insurance that guarantees the farmer a profit no matter what happens. It is the game played by all politicians.
If it were merely a matter of promising free goods to the constituents at the expense of the anonymous taxpayer, it might not be so bad. But it gets much worse. The two major political parties cultivate a type of class warfare based upon and motivated entirely by covetousness. Citizens are told that they deserve something and that the reason they do not have it is because of the oppressive behavior of somebody else. Just when it looks like the big, bad, corporate greed-monster is going to make a profit, in rides the politician to strike down the oppressor and award the fruits of his office to the formerly oppressed. Plank after plank of each party’s political platform is built up by means of pandering to covetousness.
The biggest coveter in the land is the State itself. The State covets everything that you own. Former President Clinton opposed tax cuts because he believed that the citizens to whom the money belonged would “spend it on the wrong things.” He wanted the money of the citizens of this country to advance his agenda, the agenda of an enlightened intellectual who was clearly superior to the rank and file citizen. The State has grandiose plans. The State has wars to fight and campaign promises of wealth transfer to fulfill. How can that be done without coveting the property of its citizens? No matter how much the State is able to extract from the citizenry by means of direct taxation and the indirect tax of inflation, it is never enough. Witness the current seven trillion dollar federal deficit. No wonder the State covets all that we own.
The “tobacco settlement” is a fantastic example of State covetousness. The official reason given for the lawsuits against the tobacco companies was public health and welfare. If that was true and the State truly believes that tobacco is a public health risk, then why does the State now have the largest vested interest in seeing that the tobacco companies remain profitable? If tobacco is such an evil, why not just make it illegal? If tobacco is so harmful, why did the State, in the form of the military, regularly grant free cigarettes to its enlisted men well after the harmful effects of cigarette smoking were well known to the medical community? It seems that the State is not really as interested in the public weal as much as they are interested in the income stream produced by tobacco sales. Today, with so many state governments in fiscal difficulty, does it surprise any of us that tobacco funds are being used to fund the general budgets of many states? What is the basis of this war against the tobacco companies? Coveting the cash cow.
The Church has sat silently by while this transformation of the US political process has taken place. When the Church does speak it is to assert that all we need are more Christians elected to office and somehow, magically, that will bring about a transformation. This ignorance of and inability to see the covetous nature of the government of the United States is due to the assimilation of the Church to our culture.
The Church in the United States is either afraid to stand up the immoralities of the government or is too comfortably embedded in the process to care about the immoralities. Those few Christians who have the knowledge and courage to speak out are quickly hushed, labeled as fringe elements, and pushed into the corner so as not to endanger the opportunities for other, more level-headed, Christians to obtain political power and appointments. I have shown that the United States government either actively breaks or strongly supports and condones the breaking of all the commandments of God. In light of that fact it is difficult to see how it is that so many Christians believe that patriotism is a good thing. The only conclusion that can be derived is that the Church has been fully assimilated to the culture of the United States government and, in so doing, has lost all sense of her purpose.
In the course of talking about the Ten Commandments I have had opportunity to mention certain aspects about the law of the land. I would like to examine that issue in a bit more detail. I believe that it is the case that the Church has become assimilated to US culture by a wholesale adoption of humanistic law and a total rejection of biblical law.