Counterculture Con HQ

December 24, 2009

The Ten Suggestions – revisited

A preacher in England offers his novel take on the Eighth Commandment-thou shalt not steal.

Delivering his festive lesson, Father Jones told the congregation: ‘My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift. I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.

‘I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.

‘I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need.

‘I offer the advice with a heavy heart and wish society would recognise that bureaucratic ineptitude and systematic delay has created an invitation and incentive to crime for people struggling to cope.’

And the kicker,

The married father-of-two [priest] insisted his unusual advice did not break the Bible commandment ‘Thou shalt not steal’ – because God’s love for the poor outweighs his love for the rich.

Catch that?  I call that last one the marxist “tell.”  Poor=good, Rich=bad.  Here delivered as God loving the poor over the rich.  Which is not biblical.  I grew up in the Third World.  I’ve seen poverty.  Not the-poor-are-overweight variety of poverty we are familiar with here in the West.  I’m talking the fly-infested skeletal child, the cardboard shacks, the open sewers, and literal starvation, Sally Struthers variety of poverty.  I wouldn’t pretend to judge or moralize over someone driven by that kind of desperation to take morality into their own hands.  I haven’t walked in those shoes myself, and I’ve been tempted by far, far less.  But have we really descended to the level of poverty and desperation as a society that would justify theft to the extent it should be taught from the pulpits?  Are the poor more desperate now than when God’s law was handed down to us?  Or is this good priest’s advice more a reflection of what’s going on inside our churches ideologically.

More here.

Hat tip: Jawa

UPDATE: America’s Young Theologian quotes Thomas Aquinas in defense of the good priest above:

Nevertheless, if the need be so manifest and urgent, that it is evident that the present need must be remedied by whatever means be at hand…then it is lawful for a man to sustain his own need by means of another’s property, by taking it either openly or secretly: nor is this properly speaking theft or robbery.

I would agree with Thomas Aquinas.  Survival trumps all.  And if a man should be so driven to steal, he would find no condemnation from me.  But I’m willing to bet Aquinas never had a burger thrown back in his face by a “starving” panhandler because he only takes cash.  So while in theory I’m 100% onboard with Aquinas, on a practical level I’m pretty convinced the good priest mentioned above was merely grandstanding to make a larger point.  That larger point probably having to do with “structural justice”, or something along those lines.  And that’s fine.  Honest.  But the way he went about it was ridiculous.

UPDATE: further guidance on Thomas Aquinas in the comments.