I love on private property.

My Dad once pointed at that all my toys belonged, legally, to him.

This was frightening until he explained further: I had visions of him swooping up my army men, Teddy, and Sir Gordon and his horse Bravo  (not dolls, but action figures). He comforted me quickly: he had the right to my toys, but this right secured my use of them until I was a man.

How?

I was very small and my swords were all plastic, Dad would protect me to play in safety.

I was not comptent to own things, because I was not a man. Dad’s ownership, because Dad could be trusted to love me, allowed me to possess things through his citizenship.

Because Dad owned the toys, I could own the toys. Because Dad was a full citizen, when my bike was stolen he could call the policeman.

This was cheering, but Dad went further.

Strictly speaking, from the view of the King, Dad was also a child who owned nothing in his own right. King Jesus owned the entire world and all that was within it, but because King Jesus, like Dad, was loving and good, He let us use his things until we reached, in Paradise, perfect manhood and came into our inheritance.

Knowing that the King owned everything made me wonder if I could claim the cattle over on West Virginia hill one thousand, but Dad only laughed.

King Jesus could give me what I needed, but I could not take what I thought was needed anymore than Brenda from down the hill could just claim my toys. If King Jesus had allowed Miss Davis to own the land at the bottom of the driveway, then from my point of view it was her land.

Dad pointed out that people who heard God telling them to take back other people’s land were generally like children who pretended their parents wanted them to take money from their wallets: they were lying to themselves.

Later, when I was older, he discussed the evils of abortion with me in similar terms: the baby had a right to life that came from God. From the point of view of Heaven that meant, strictly speaking, that no person had rights in themselves, but this was good. If people did not give me my right to life, then people could not take it away, not even me! I did not give my life value, so even I could not decide when it was done or even who I was or what was good about me.

I was God’s kid, but God, like any good parent, gave me growing freedom as I got older.

There was no privacy, not in my deepest heart, from God, but this meant there could be privacy from people. Nobody had a right to my deepest thoughts: my secrets were my own and  no government had the right to force them from me. Because God owned my soul, it was free from every man.

This gave me a great reverence, which continues to this day, for private property. When God gives a friend money, it is his, and nobody should take it from him without his consent. Taxation without representation is tyranny, but it is also impiety. It takes what God has joined together, a man and his property, and forces it asunder. The arrogance that says: “God is not telling you, the person he has made steward of this property, but me, what is best for it.” is frightening.

God calls this stealing and He takes stealing so seriously that we are not even allowed to covet in our hearts.

When King Ahab took a vineyard from a poor man, God was enraged. God had given the land to that man and no government could seize it without that man’s consent.

If a man can love his property too much, and that is a grievous sin, he can also love it too little. He can squander what God has given him, pollute his land, or take for granted his wealth. Instead, he should cherish his property with an ordinate affection knowing it is ultimately God’s, but that as he becomes ever more human, God delights in giving him ever more.

If I sell my birthright for soup, then I place too low a value on the spiritual and physical goods He has given me. My birthright is not just freedom in my soul, but freedom in my body and in my property.

We are not just given spiritual blessings anymore than we are given only a spirit. We are given bodies and we can rejoice in them.

And so today, I look at the little God has granted me, though it is much in historic context, and rejoice in it. I do not worship it, but I am glad about it and because I am a human being created in His image I can say: “This is mine.” In the order of Heaven, my laptop is His, but I am His so He can make what is His mine: a thing in His love He shares only with me!

This is most true of my body: it is mine and not yours, because I am His. Of His own, given to me, I give Him, but you can never give my own to Him without offering Cain’s envious offering.

What a joy! I know that it depends of Father, but that is even more joyous. When I tell you that this car is mine, I am pointing back to Father. When I create more wealth, using talents he has given me, then He confirms my use of that wealth joyfully. In the universe God created my abundance need not be based on “taking,” but on creation. I am not made poor when Apple is made rich, but able to own a wonderful machine!

Of course, greed, covetousness, the inordinate love of money, and selfishness mess all this up, but answer is not to attack private property anymore than the solution to my selfishness as a child was to take away my toys.

He taught me to share by education and example.

As  I walk through the airport today, I rejoiced to see men and women buying and selling where they should have been buying and selling. If our Lord drove the money changers from the Temple, it was to get them to where buying and selling should be.

Thank you King Jesus for privacy, including private property.

 

  • Rebecca Trotter

    What about people who have nothing? Did God fail to secure anything for them? Does he not love the landless, foodless, toyless child as much as his love those who have land, food and toys? I was taught that whatever property we have is an unearned gift entrusted to us by God and it is his intention that we use it for the well being of our communities and requires us to pass on all excess to those who do not have enough.

    If we all thought of what we have been entrusted with in this way, there would be no need for the government to be involved. But men are evil, so we have governments. If we don’t want governments, the answer isn’t to protect our property from them, but to use the goods entrusted to us by God in the way that he intended so that the need for government will pass. “Seek first the kingdom . . . “

  • Darrin Snyder Belousek

    Agreed with Rebecca Trotter. The viewpoint here is devoid of the traditional Christian doctrine of the universal destination of natural goods. This doctrine was articulated in the early church by Basil and Chrysostom, affirmed in the medieval church by Thomas Aquinas, and maintained in the contemporary church by Catholic Social Teaching. From this traditional Christian viewpoint, all property is a stewardship: while private possession of natural goods is permitted, it is entrusted to us by God for the purpose, not of owning it, but of stewarding it, for one’s own good and for the good of others. The writer here states that for the government to take property without consent is impiety. The ancient Christian tradition says that the failure to share whatever goods you have above what you need with those who have less than what they need is impiety. Indeed, sharing our excess with those having less than needed is not a choice of charity–it is an obligation of justice. Thus, Basil and Chrysostom stated unequivocally in their homilies that to possess more than what you need but to refuse to share your excess with the poor is to be guilty of theft: what you have in excess of what you need belongs, not to you, but to whomever might need it. Thus, further, Thomas Aquinas made clear that the poor and destitute who has no other resource may, without consent, take from the surplus of the rich–and that, while such stealing may break human law, it is not unjust because it accords with natural law. The premise of this traditional viewpoint is the doctrine of creation: God created the earth with the intent that its goods were to be shared to meet the common needs of all humanity. The notion that I can own a piece of this earth, without any obligations of justice toward my neighbor except as I consent, is refuted by Christian tradition.

  • Susan Gerard

    Jesus told us how to behave towards the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the marginalized. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. As such, I believe that the acquisition of great wealth in the face of great poverty is a sin. Surely we have some rights, but didn’t your wise father also tell you about the joys of sharing your toys with those less fortunate than you? Did he not tell you the story of Lazarus and the rich man?

    Maybe the typo in your post title was a freudian slip?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X