The great mystery of the American church has to do with the prevalent sin of greed. Certainly, the New Testament doesn’t short change on calling out the sin of money loving. Greed numbers as one of the seven deadly sins. James calls the love of money the root of evil. Jesus highlights greed in the Sermon on the Mount particularly by saying that serving mammon (making our greed our God) is contradictory to serving the living God. Loving money will lead to rejecting the Holy Trinity.
Some would argue that the church has been concentrating on other sins more damaging to society and to the church. The strong response to sexual sin after the sexual revolution would seem to suggest the church needed to put condemning greed in the backseat strapped into a baby chair to be dealt with later. Many in the church see sexual sins becoming the new norm in our culture and its effects, such as an increase of abortions, as what the church needs to fight at this moment. Greed is not that bad compared to the lust invading our screens.
We do live in a hyper-sexual culture, and yet many do not ask why we are exposed to so much sexuality. Advertisers want to selling toothpaste, soda and all sorts of unrelated items and sexuality becomes an easy way to make a buck. Our children are exposed younger and younger to more and more sexual images–again, in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Pornography is destroying many men’s ability to relate to females outside of viewing them sexual objects. Pornography is multi-billion dollar money maker, so it has many supporters in our culture.
The church does need to speak out against sexual sin. The irony is that much of the hyper-sexuality we are now exposed to has precisely to do with greed the church is so reluctant to call out. Advertisers use sex to sell and increase their bottom line with no regard other than their bottom line. Pornography is mostly about generating money. Many of the defenders of pornography point to how it liberates women starring in videos because they can make a lot of money… in other words, the love of money justifies the degradation they suffer. James was correct in pointing to the love of money as a major root of evil, rather than naming it as the virtue that free marketers would have us believe it is.
Maybe the church’s failure to address greed is due to the idea that greed is not the most prevalent sin in America. Loving money is not really as big of a sin here and now as it was when Jesus spoke out against it in the first century. Now, we so above greed. Although, the daily news and a simple Google search would quickly put down such an explanation. The Great Recession of 2007-2008 that nearly brought down our financial house happened because many of our bankers were intoxicated by greed. The love of money in America, if anything, is more pronounced than it was in Jesus’ day. The altars to money-worship are all around us. So, the church’s silence could not be from greed disappearing. There seem to be more reasons for the silence in the face of overwhelming greed in America, a sin that even Jesus signaled out as one of the most damaging.
So why all the silence by the church about the sin of greed? Why does the church only pay lip service to the dangers of greed? Where are the huge protest marches against Wall Street driven by similar passion as the pro-life marches?
The clue seems to come from the prevalent Prosperity Gospel. Many a pastor has cashed in and gotten their own private jet by promoting the idea that God wants his followers to be rich. In the past, such spiritual hucksters would be called out for violating biblical principles. Today, many of them are invited to speak at big evangelical conferences, which generate a lot of mullah themselves through expensive ticket sales and merchandising tie-ins.
It seems the old joke about Christianity’s journey tells a certain truth. When Christianity started in Jerusalem is was about a relationship with God. When it moved to Greece it became an idea. When it moved to Rome it became an institution. Now that it has moved to the USA, it has become a marketing idea for getting rich.
The reason the church does not speak out against greed is that it has gone all in and put on the silken robe of mammon. It dances around the golden bull of Wall Street. We have seen the beginning of the decline of the American church in the last few decades. Maybe the answer as to “why” lay in the words of Jesus, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Unfortunately, many in the church have chosen to follow the almighty dollar.
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