Moral Priorities: Economic Equality

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  September 24, 2016

            “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land”—2 Chronicles 7:14
            This simple passage is often lifted in prayers and sermons calling for a morality in our nation. It speaks directly to the nation of Israel under the leadership of King Solomon shortly after the dedication of the Temple. It also speaks prophetically to the people who were rightfully joyous in the completion of God’s beautiful temple in Jerusalem. Yet, God knew that a temple alone would not be enough to transform the world for God’s purposes or fully transform the hearts of the people. The faithful would have to create a truly moral society in God’s name.
            It is, perhaps, a bit presumptuous to unilaterally incorporate the promises of this one verse onto Christians in United States of America in 2016, but the central theme of the prophetic proclamation remains foundational to the full and faithful expression of living the Christian faith. As women and men who profess our shared faith in God and desire to serve in God’s name, we must humbly bow before God, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from the wickedness which has permeated so much of our modern world and decimated the moral fabric of our nation.
            Yet, scripture demonstrates, truly turning from wicked ways has always proven to be a dangerously challenging sin to renounce. The biblical prophets spent much of their ministry preaching and teaching against the wicked ways practiced by God’s people. In particular, as Micah and Amos vividly preach, the worst of the wicked and depraved realities we face is the immorality of unjust economic systems.
            Economies that oppress the poor while lining the pockets of the wealthy are biblical examples of serous immorality. Theology that values wealth over equality and justice is immoral. Taxation that disproportionally favors the rich, while infringing direct and indirect cost on the poor is immoral. Government policies that essentially punish the poor for being poor while rewarding the rich for being rich—especially when the rewards are borne on the backs of the impoverished—are immoral. Turning a blind eye to economic injustice is immoral.
            As Christians, we live in volatile times when much of the political rhetoric and emotionalized media messages seduce us into believing the poor in our midst do not deserve the same human dignity afforded the rich and that tax money invested in the most vulnerable of society is wasteful. These are, however, immoral lies based in the seductive power of idolatry, greed, the allure of power, and the illusion of security. As Christians, we must denounce these satanic lies as the corrupt and debased immoral realities they truly are.
            Matthew 25 says that our integrity in Jesus Christ hinges on the way we treat the ‘least of these’ in our society. Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13 both make it clear that Christians cannot be loyal to God while ensnared in the evil trap of serving and loving money. 1 Timothy 6:10 nails it when reminding all Christians that the love of money is the root of all evil.
            These scriptural admonitions seem to fall on deaf ears when many governmental leaders and even many voters—many of whom claim to be Christians—would rather cut programs that provide vital services to the ‘least of these’ rather than implement fair, just, equitable, and sustainable taxation that fully serves all the needs of our society. Government that fails to care for the ‘least of these’ is immoral. Christians must stand against the immorality of unjust taxation and regressive tax cuts that serve only to line the pockets of the rich while destroying the poor.