Lifestyle Choice

Lifestyle Choice April 16, 2015

Lifestyle choice,

In our day and age many Christians, including very prominent ones, have chosen a lifestyle that is fundamentally at odds with their claim to be Christians. This is a lifestyle choice I am talking about – it is not something genetic, something innate, something inevitable. It is a sin that is so abominable that it is condemned uncategorically in both Testaments. I am speaking, of course, of the tendency in particular among American Christians, and particularly among our leaders, to live in luxury while our brothers and sisters are starving, cold, and oppressed.

The quote comes from an old post of mine from back in 2007, also with the title “Lifestyle Choice.” I thought it might be worth sharing again. The verse from Ezekiel is borrowed from an image on the Redefine Sodomy website.

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  • jeffstraka

    Sometimes, the “luxury” is not financial but in privilege. It’s not just the “prosperity gospel” preachers who are guilty of stepping on the marginalized. http://nightmovescab.blogspot.com/2015/04/heroes-that-dont-tip.html

  • Nigel Modern

    Oh, dear…it’s an abomination to be rich while others go hungry and I’m guilty

  • Ah. So Progressive Christians are not free of the sin of prooftexting, either. Well, neither am I, but hypocrisy is better than nothing at all. Ezekiel lived before the age of Modern Economic Growth; his views on this topic should be seen as irrelevant to the modern day. And why omit the next verse?

    • antimule

      > Ah. So Progressive Christians are not free of the sin of prooftexting, either. Well, neither am I, but hypocrisy is better than nothing at all. Ezekiel lived before the age of Modern Economic Growth; his views on this topic should be seen as irrelevant to the modern day.

      What happens when (not if, when) the growth stops? Nothing can grow forever in finite universe, and nothing can grow exponentially for long. Especially now that resources are slowly dwindling. And there is no guarantee that growth will be justly spread around even while it lasts.

      >And why omit the next verse?

      Not that I care one way or another, but how does next verse change anything? It doesn’t really specify what “detestable things” are.

      • Define “justly”. Wages are a market price. Are we going back to the Labor Theory of Value and the Just Price doctrine?

        • antimule

          I love how you ignored all those other things I said. First, can you prove to me that people have a right to have property at all? Why can’t someone just go to your place and take all your stuff? Then can we talk about what is and isn’t just wage.

          (Not saying that property should not exist, but I would like to see your proof that it should)

          • What do you mean by “have a right to property”? Did I even explicitly mention property here?

            Someone can’t just go to people’s places and take all their stuff because it would screw up their incentives to produce and invest. Also, this creates incentives in favor of idly subsisting off of others’ earnings, instead of raising aggregate supply.

          • antimule

            > What do you mean by “have a right to property”? Did I even explicitly mention property here?

            Well in order to pay anyone anything, you sort of have to own something 🙂

            > Someone can’t just go to people’s places and take all their stuff because it would screw up their incentives to produce and invest. Also, this creates incentives in favor of idly subsisting off of others’ earnings, instead of raising aggregate supply.

            Your argument basically sums up “property should exist because it is useful concept for me and if it is broken all kind ob bad stuff will happen.” Now, I generally agree with this. I agree that ownership is mostly a very, very good thing. But what happens with groups of people to whom system simply isn’t beneficial?

            Here’s a hypothetical scenario: Suppose that automation (e.g. self driving cars) gets really good and displaces many/most current low skilled workers. Some might retrain, but it turns out most simply aren’t intelligent enough to get into white collar jobs. Since their wages are now zero and they can’t invest into anything, they have no rational reason not to steal (unless they are comfortable with starvation), even if it does screw the system for those still employed. They are effectively outside of your system.

            Back in the middle ages people with down syndrome where not seen as really different than anyone else, because zero skill jobs where plentiful. But now, down syndrome people generally can’t find any job and are usually aborted (not that I necessarily oppose abortion). While automation was a good thing for almost everyone, it was not such a good thing for people with down syndrome.

            So having some safety net appears to me to be necessary to prevent people with nothing to lose from screwing the property rights of everyone else. Humans do have minimum requirements. A worker that can’t afford clothing and a bath isn’t a useful worker but a disease vector.

          • Michael Wilson

            Antimule, when everything is automated prices will be low as shit. No body will make an automated production if there is no one buying, so it evens out. People with down syndrome today have it better than they ever did. Why? Because mechanized labour means they can be fed and housed for peanuts. We don’t have to force cripples to beg or do beast work to survive.

    • Michael Wilson

      Could you explain what is relevant about v50?
      Great point Harding about proof texting. Ezekiel no more understands economics than Paul understands sexuality.

      Antimule, you have a bleak view of the future, you don’t think more innovation will come to keep growth going? No colonies orbiting Jupiter?

      • I think v. 50 serves as an elastic clause allowing Sodom’s punishment being a result of more abominations than simply pride and strong inequality.

        • Michael Wilson

          Possibly, but do we have evidence Ezekiel meant sodomy? Personally I figure Ezekiel condemned sodomy but I also think that the privilege of lords weighed more heavily on his mind and in context of the story, it is the lack of hospitality that would have offended the original readers, the sodomy was just icing to really sell the Sodomites villainy.

      • antimule

        > Antimule, you have a bleak view of the future, you don’t think more innovation will come to keep growth going? No colonies orbiting Jupiter?

        I would not call it bleak. I simply think that the universe does not owe us problems that can be solved. It might turn out (very likely, even) that commercial interstellar travel is simply physically impossible. Cost effective fusion remains elusive, too. Put simply, we are running out of laws of physics that we can profitably exploit. And out of resources.

        While I wish best to commercial space program, it is important to note that they have so far failed to replicate what government did 50+ years ago. They might maybe be able to mine a few asteroids, thought.

        Quick economic growth was not a fact thorough most of human history and I don’t see why it would be maintainable for long. I think that at least some problems today stem from us trying to maintain the illusion of growth at all costs. Think of housing bubble, folks thinking that hollow boxes made of bricks can forever increase in value.

        • Michael Wilson

          I agree that growth may not be inevitable, and it was quite slow until the beginning of modernity , however I dont think we are close and at a certain point I wonder if growth is neccessary. But as of now gas (and food, iron, ect) is still cheap and most of the worlds potential to produce is un tapped. Im optimistic.