In recent years, there has been growing interest in an explicitly Christian economics. I’m afraid that a lot of what passes for Christian writing and sloganeering on economics is about as authentic as the pre-ripped jeans you can get down at the Buckle for a hundred bucks a pop. But hey, the cool kids might invite you to their parties, so there’s that.
You also have a reaction going on, a good, healthy aversion to so-called conservative Republican types who steal and pillage and walk over the backs of the poor all in the name of “capitalism” and “free markets” and “growing strong businesses” and the like. They use the right words, but like all Pharisees, they are white washed tombs. They’re running ponzi schemes in their basements and paying hookers with campaign finances they rifled from a widow’s inheritance. And so plenty of younger Christians in particular get (rightly) fed up with the fancy haircuts and political bee-essing. But I fear that many rebound with the next girl with a pretty face and it ends up being more lies and scams just with different Bible verses slapped on the bumpers, theft with a different uniform, socialism for Mormons.
I’m no economist, and I understand that there are some fundamental judgment calls on certain policies or economic models. But the basic principles are actually pretty simple. No lying and no stealing. That’s it. And people who do either should be promptly jailed, fired, or put out of business. But obviously we live in a culture that has so many layers of personal and institutional sin and greed and lies and theft and cruelty, that it’s sort of like trying to rake your lawn in the middle of a hurricane. You would sort of have to nail each and every leaf in place to get anywhere.
But here’s what I’d suggest as a way to get started. Don’t trust anybody who hasn’t successfully made enemies in most circles. Don’t trust any poster boys. The right kind of man (or woman) in this culture will have to be a truth teller, and a truth-teller will be an offense to all the liars, regardless of political affiliation. Now, I’m not just talking about being a jerk. I’m talking about character, a backbone, not afraid of anyone, the courage to tell the truth to friends, enemies, and everyone in-between, the sort of truth telling that would make everybody a little nervous. So the chances of somebody like this even making it to the preliminaries of any round of interviews or elections is pretty slim. But in the meantime, tell the truth and don’t steal.
And if you have lied or stolen, give a fat raspberry to this messed up system by doing something truly revolutionary: go back to the one you lied to and repent, go back to the one you stole from and repent. Tell the truth, restore what you’ve taken, do restitution. That’s basic Christian economics. If you can’t get that down, you’re still part of the problem.