Sex and money
How often do we have serious conversations about what constitutes economic sin in our lives as compared to sexual sins in the lives of others?
I have purposely not written a column expressing my opinion on the 2022 Christian Reformed Synod’s Human Sexuality Report, and specifically not about the report’s recommendations concerning same sex relations. My reason is that, from the outset, I judged the entire process to be disingenuous. Handcuffing the committee members with a mandate that forced it to consider the CRC’s 1973 stance on homosexuality as normative, meant that it could only come to one conclusion: homosexual practice is a sin. Why bother with a lengthy study that already has a predetermined conclusion? It’s like having a murder trial where the judge and jury have already decided that the accused is guilty before the trial starts.
I did research what the Bible has to say about sex and money. While quantity does not necessarily trump quality, it is interesting that there are reportedly about 2,300 verses in the Scriptures about the dangers of wealth compared to only about 100 that speak out against sexual impropriety, only 5 of which address homosexuality (although that word itself is nowhere to be found in the original Hebrew and Greek in which the Bible is written). In the New Testament, Jesus spoke about money in 15 percent of his teaching, and in 11 of 39 recorded parables.
The thrust of the Bible’s concern with money is that it is the preeminent idol of all cultures. The pursuit of wealth is the greatest detriment to seeking first the Kingdom of God. As Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and wealth” (Matt. 6:24). Now, it’s easy to believe that the pursuit of wealth is only the preoccupation of the super-rich of the world like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the like. But stop and think for a moment about how much time you and I, and most middle-class readers of this fine newspaper, devote to money matters compared to almost any other endeavor with which we are engaged. How often do we check our bank balance, RRSPs and other investments, interest rates, sales flyers, travel deals and mortgage rates, compared with how often we pray, read the Bible, look for ways to serve our neighbours, or reduce our carbon footprint? How often do we have serious conversations about what constitutes economic sin in our lives as compared to sexual sins in the lives of others?
I would love to see a synodical study committee made up of a diverse selection of both lay and expert persons do a serious 3-year Biblical study of economics with a view to providing pastoral guidance to the church on a host of economic practices such as wealth accumulation, investing, charitable giving, economic slavery, environmental stewardship, resource extraction and support for capitalism or socialism, just to mention a few. However, I’m not holding my breath to witness such a synodical committee at work. As my dear wife says, “We CRC folk don’t much like talking about our sex lives or our money. Especially not about our money.” Too bad.
With 2,300 texts on money to choose from, it’s difficult to select a few for a short column, but here are a few that readers may want to check out: Deut.8 10-14; Proverbs 11:28; Mark 6:24; Mark 10:23; Matt. 6:24; Matt. 13:22; Luke 12:15; 1 Tim. 6:8-9.