In our discussion on what the Bible says about property rights, Dan Trabue wrote:
I'd love to discuss the Jubilee Laws and implications. I'm with you that we can't really implement them today our societies being apples and oranges - but that we CAN and should implement policies (individually, locally and nationally) that are in their spirit.
I think the notion of the Jubilee Laws are sufficient reason to dismiss the notion that we ought not institute policies on a societal level to assist the poor. What were the Jubilee Laws and some of the other Levitical laws (leaving behind some of the field to be gleaned by the poor) if not a form of taxation?
Enforced not by a military but by a God?
I responded that I fully approve of God implementing such policies. To this, Dan replied (in contradiction to his first proposal that such policies be enforced by God, not the military):
And God did so, in the nation of Israel whose people implemented such a policy. God merely recommended it (commanded, actually).
Ought we not stand ready to do as a people - a Christian people - what the Israelis did? Not that we can force an issue in and of ourselves, we are only one voice in a nation of many.
But we can advocate for rules that mimic the Jubilee Laws and Levitical laws (the reasonable ones in our society) and, if our reasoning is sufficient to sway the masses, those policies may be implemented and there would be nothing at all biblically wrong with doing so.
It's an interesting idea, but I don't think that Christian Ethics should necessarily be codified in public policy. For example, the Bible at no point presents a positive portrayal of homosexuality, and at one point even commands that those who engage in homosexual activity to be executed. If we were to follow this model, then Christians must push for homosexuality to be criminalized.
Here's another example. Biblical teaching, as Dan has pointed out, clearly and repeatedly condemns greed and encourages charity. In my post, I listed a long string of verse citations which encourage if not demand charitable giving to the poor.
Here's an even longer string of verse citations:
Ex 20:3-5, Deu 6:14, 2 Kin 17:35, Jer 25:6, Jer 35:15, Ex 15:11, Ex 20:23, Lev 19:4, Lev 26:1, Deu 4:15-19, Deu 27:15, Ex 23:24, Jos 23:7-8, 2 Kin 17:35, Deu 4:23, Jos 24:19-20, Ex 34:13-14, Deu 5:9, Ex 34:17
Anyone want to guess what moral problem these verses deal with? Idolatry. And that's with just five minutes of searching. I don't have time right now to compile a complete account of every passage which condemns idolatry. But there's a whole heap of them. Why the Book of Hosea is wholly devoted just to idolatry!
Clearly, idolatry, like greed, is incompatible with Christian Ethics. So if we follow Dan's reasoning and implement the condemnations against idolatry into public policy, then worshipping other gods should be criminalized.