Economics for Faithful Stewards: Thou Shalt Not Steal – Ex 20:15

The foundations of all law are in essence religious and theological: they are questions of ultimacy and moral necessity. Law without faith is an impossibility. Every law order is a moral and a theological order, a structuring of society in terms of a fundamental faith. 1

Theft has been a problem for man since the Garden. The devil’s temptation to our first parents, was to take what God said was forbidden for them. Ex. 20:15 shows that the Bible teaches private ownership of goods-capitalism. What is mine, is mine. What is yours, is yours. The Bible even says that “you have been bought with a price.” (I Cor.6:20) Capitalism’s legitimacy has been at the heart of western society.

Capitalisation is the product of work and thrift, and the accumulation of wealth and the wise use of accumulated wealth. This accumulated wealth is invested in effect in progress, because it is made available for the development of natural resources and the marketing of goods and produce. The thrift which leads to the savings or accumulation of wealth, to capitalisation, is a product of character. Capitalisation is a product in every era of the Puritan disposition, of the willingness to forego present pleasures to accumulate some wealth for future purposes. Without character, there is no capitalisation but rather decapitalisation, the steady depletion of wealth. As a result, capitalism is supremely a product of Christianity, and, in particular, of Puritanism, which, more than any other faith, has furthered capitalisation. 2

Evildoers hate God’s commandments. They “suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” (Ro.1:18) and the thought  of God’s commands restricting their activities, they consider in their pride and arrogance to be an affront. The case of  Naboth’s murder and the theft of his vineyard (I Kings 21) is a case in point. Jezebel in particular, refused to accept God’s behavioural restrictions, and the judgement on Ahab and Jezebel (II Kings 9,10) illustrates the inevitable outcome of theft and murder.

This attitude of the ungodly when they have political power, was illustrated by Augustine:

Without justice, what are kingdoms but great robber bands? What are robber bands but small kingdoms? The band is itself made up of men, is ruled by the command of a leader, and is held together by a social pact. Plunder is divided in accordance with an agreed upon law. If this evil increases by the inclusion of dissolute men to the extent that it takes over territory, establishes headquarters, occupies cities, and subdues peoples, it publicly assumes the title of kingdom! 3

This capacity for violence and theft, legitimised with the sanction of officialdom, found a welcome seed-bed in the Renaissance era. Because the Renaissance represented a desire to “re-birth” Greek philosophy and culture, and a rejection of all forms of Biblical morality, it became a proving ground for legitimising autonomous power, both personal and political.

Machiavelli was a true Renaissance man. His views were consistent with most of the twentieth century’s famous political leaders. He boasted that, “in hypocrisy, I have long since received baptism, confirmation, and communion. In lying I even possess a doctor’s degree. Life has taught me to temper falsehood with truth and truth with falsehood." 4 His personal attitudes in relation to Biblical ethics, contributed to the changing attitudes of his era about the State. Now, there would be nothing to control the State.

Consequently, “a professor of law, J. H. Merryman, in The Civil Law Tradition (1969) stated that ‘the age of absolute sovereignty began’ when the state claimed that ‘the ultimate law-making power lay in the state.’ There was then no law to control the state, because the state was now the author of all law.” 5

Socialists throughout the twentieth century made their opposition to God’s commandments abundantly clear. Socialism (whether in its totalitarian or democratic forms) is inherently confiscatory, because it demands the forcible confiscation of the wealth of others (through taxation), and its redistribution, supposedly to the poor, but in reality it is the politicians and bureaucrats who mainly benefit.6 Socialism everywhere has a sorry history in its consistent pattern. “Socialism has demonstrated its ability to destroy, but not to create… it is first created by an immoral people who are then confirmed and increased in their immorality by the socialist state.” 7

Socialism ultimately demands the ownership, and the destruction of everything in society. It is premised on Satan’s suggestion in the Garden, the lie of redistribution: “you should have what others have.”  Igor Shafarevich described socialism as  “a war against freedom, property, religion, marriage, man, and life itself.” Its results will be “the withering away of all mankind, and its death.” 8

What to Remember:


  1. The tendency to steal is a part of original sin.
  2. Don’t seek to have what belongs to others, unless you are willing to pay.
  3. Never support government sponsored re-distribution of wealth.
  4. Always vote for less taxation and smaller government.
  5. The way to reverse the curse of socialism, is by Biblical obedience and responsibility.
  6. Take responsibility for yourself, your family, and where it is Biblically appropriate, your community. (Gal.6:10) They need you to do this. 9
  7. Remember that “power flows to those who take responsibility.” (Gary North)

1) Rushdoony, R. J., Roots of Reconstruction, 1991, p.893-4.
2) Rushdoony, R. J., Chalcedon Report, April 1967.
3) Augustine, The City of God, circa. 400 AD.
4) Rushdoony, R. J., Roots of Reconstruction, 1991, p.1052.
5) ibid., p.1025.
6) George Orwell was right. He said in Animal Farm, “Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer, except of course, for the pigs and the dogs.”
7) Rushdoony, R. J., Salvation and Godly Rule, 1983, p.70.
8) Shafarevich, I., Socialism in our Past and Future, in Solzenitsyn, A., From Under the Rubble, 1974, p.61.
9) See “Health,” and “Welfare” in my book, The Significance of the Godly Family, 2009.

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