The third principle of a Biblical covenant is the principle of ethics-dominion. The basis of long-term authority is obedience to God’s law. This principle of dominion through moral obedience is related to economics in numerous ways, but nothing is clearer than the Bible’s prohibition against theft. The eighth commandment (seventh, if you’re a Lutheran) prohibits theft. This unquestionably is the basis of a defence of the idea of private property.
More important, as we learn in the tenth commandment, God’s law requires the protection of family property. The tenth commandment prohibits coveting anything that is our neighbour’s. It prohibits the mental origin of grasping, greedy evil. The eighth commandment prohibits theft – a visible manifestation of this coveting process. It establishes for all time that it’s illegal and immoral for an individual to steal property which belongs to someone else. As we shall see, it’s equally illegal in God’s sight to get the State to steal for you. The commandment doesn’t say, “You shall not steal, except by majority vote.”
All of God’s law witnesses to the fact that Biblical ethical behaviour is critical for the Christian. This was the first point of conflict that Adam and Eve faced in the garden. God’s Word to Adam and Eve was “do it my way,” but Satan contradicted this. He effectively said, “Oh no, Adam and Eve. God’s keeping something from you, can’t you see? Do it my way!” Their decision to follow Satan led to them being guilty of theft, and their expulsion from the garden.
When the devil sought to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, his strategy was no different. He sought to subvert God’s Word, and introduce a different plan for Jesus to follow.
Socialists are religious people, and they believe in ethics too: their kind. The Bible tells us that “…there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc.1:9), and the socialist’s vision has come straight from the garden, and is one of theft: theft from people by government. The socialist says to the community, “We really care for you. In fact, we care so much we are willing to take extra money in taxes from those people in the community who are making a lot, and give it to the marginalised and the underprivileged in the community. And this will solve so many problems and make life for the community so much easier.”
This also is a form of subversion; an attack on God through an attack on people whom God made. This form of government requires increases in taxation, or government debt, or both.
Socialism has never made a community more prosperous, because it relies on coercion, it restricts individual choice, restricts the profit incentive for individuals and business people through increased taxation, and then has to pay a whole army of bureaucrats to ensure there is an “appropriate” distribution of the wealth in the community. As a result, the community is poorer.
The Christian would rather be able to use his gifts and talents as he chooses, because the Bible instructs us to “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil.2:13). He would rather be able to make individual choices rather than be coerced, and he wants to see the poor cared for in the way that God has ordained, namely through individuals, the family and the church.
Every other form of government is a form of theft, is harmful to society, and is cursed of God.
The following Biblical economic principles are essential if we are to exercise effective, God-honouring dominion:
1. God is the absolute owner of property.
2. Adam’s rebellion was displayed as an act of theft. It began with the desire for something that was not his.
3. Tyranny always involves theft (Pharaoh).
4. The best cooperation is voluntary cooperation.
5. Self-interested people cooperate voluntarily.
6. Beggars don’t exercise dominion.
7. Appeals to charity are not to become the primary basis of gaining other people’s cooperation.
8. Theft by ballot box is not to become the basis of gaining other people’s cooperation.
9. Socialism and Communism are religions of humanism, for they are based on the belief in political man (rather than God) as the supreme ruler.
10. Men’s view of time affects their view of life.
11. Present-oriented people suffer from poverty, both of the spirit and the pocketbook.
12. Present-oriented people are lower-class people.
13. Future-oriented people are upper-class people.
14. Christianity is a future-oriented religion.