For you were called to freedom, brethren… (Gal.5:13).
The gospel has application to all of life, and that most certainly includes education, but also economics.
How do we know that? Two of the Ten Commandments deal directly with economics: the prohibitions on stealing (the Eighth), and covetousness (the Tenth). The confiscation by Ahab of Naboth’s vineyard, and Ahab’s subsequent murder of Naboth through Jezebel, led to Elijah confronting Ahab, and pronouncing God’s curse and judgment on his family (I Kings 21).
It’s logical that ungodly governments always despise Biblical economics. At the crucifixion, government agents even stole Jesus’ clothes. “And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves, by casting lots” (Mat.27:35).
The Bible has a lot to teach us about employer/employee relationships, going back to Jacob and Laban in Genesis. God setting His people free from Egypt’s slavery was firstly a religious issue, but also an economic phenomenon. Thus religion and economics are inextricably linked.
The case laws of Exodus (Ex.21-23) refer to employment both directly and indirectly, such as “You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute” (Ex.23:2-3). God even gives specific instructions about the payment of wage-earners, commanding that “You shall not oppress your neighbour, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning” (Lev.19:13).
John the Baptist gave directions about employment (Luke 3:10-14), as did Paul (Eph.6:5-9), while some commentators claim that a third of our Lord’s words were about money.
The issue of the inheritance is a vital Biblical theme, and an important aspect of economics. Proverbs tells us that “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” (Prov.13:22). The Psalmist testified that God “…chooses our inheritance for us” (Ps.47:4), and that “You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name” (Ps.61:5). The theme of the inheritance continues all the way till Revelation: “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son” (Rev.21:7).
The issue of the inheritance was at the centre of one of Jesus’ last controversies with the Pharisees. At the conclusion of His Parable of the Vineyard, Jesus plainly identified the chief priests and the Pharisees as those who would say of the son of the landowner, “…This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance” (Mat.21:38).
From cover to cover, the Bible is really a radical free-market document, but we don’t have true economic freedom in Australia. Partly out of the Church’s ignorance and laxity, we’ve grown to tolerate a lot of things that have no place in a free society. A large proportion of Australian employees cannot negotiate aspects of their employment with their employers, without either the threat of the forced intervention of a government appointed bureaucracy called Fair Work Australia, or a union that employees may not have wished to join in the first place, but were compelled to, in order to secure employment. That happened to me in 1990. And you thought this was a free country?
This means that penalty rates, public holidays, weekend work, hours of work, superannuation and other conditions of employment which can be critical issues affecting business profitability, can become untouchable subjects: beyond negotiation. And if an employer is struggling to compete internationally because his labour costs are simply too high, he may have to just close his doors. These have been contributing aspects leading to the impending closure of all of Australia’s motor vehicle plants, along with other manufacturers.
I like going to supermarkets from time to time. Why?
Because of the choices and the prices, and because there’s hardly any government interference there. There is a price-war at the moment between Coles and Woolworths, and the beneficiaries are consumers (and possibly shareholders). These two companies are going toe-to-toe in their respective bids to outdo one another. That’s capitalism at work; one of the outcomes of Biblical influence in our community.
The government agency, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC), claims on its website that
We monitor fuel prices to prevent any misleading or anti-competitive conduct that may harm consumers.
But it isn’t really an institution that protects the free-market at all. It has intervened to stop Coles and Woolworths using fuel vouchers how they’d like to: to get more business.
Why? Because the ACCC doesn’t want “predatory pricing.” It doesn’t like the fact that big companies can use their advantages of scale to take business from the smaller companies. What’s wrong with that, when the consumer benefits? In taking this action to protect smaller petrol retailers, the ACCC violates what God had commanded in Exodus: “…nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute.”
Capitalism wins hands down every time, over socialism, or any other “ism.” Take items like yoghurt, shampoo, fruit-juice, ice cream or coffee. The variety of these items available in the big supermarket chains is enormous, because the big companies want to give you every opportunity to spend money in their shop.
Why is this important for you? Because it’s an aspect of the Christian world-view you can be diligently explaining to your children.
Is capitalism perfect? No, because people are never perfect; there are sinful, evil capitalists. But as an economic system, capitalism has won by a country mile over all its competitors, historically.
It’s not just the economics of employee/employer relationships that are regularly violated in Australia. Consider what happened nearly three years ago when the Federal government shut down the live cattle export market to Indonesia, from northern Australia. This scandalous act to appease the animal welfare/green lobby at the expense of cattle producers, was initiated with the broadcast of one government –funded TV program.
Now (thankfully), that industry is re-building and growing quickly, but the government’s unethical intervention threw their industry into confusion and cost farmers millions, whilst Australia’s international reputation as a reputable supplier was trashed. Under the guise of “animal welfare,” the government’s actions were no less immoral than Ahab’s confiscation of Naboth’s vineyard.
Does the Bible speak of animal welfare?
Yes, in a number of places. Here’s one: “The righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel” (Prov.12:10). But when Biblical morality is despised and short-term political outcomes are the goal, we can be sure the consequences will be evil and fearful. As Chesterton warned, “There is above all, this supreme stamp of the barbarian; the sacrifice of the permanent to the temporary.”
Rushdoony was right:
The humanistic governments seek a short-cut to learning by means of power. The seizure of power has as its goal to speed up history and growth; in reality, it retards or destroys it because it denies the fact of man’s fall. It substitutes the planning of an elite for the predestination of God, and the result is disaster.
The Chinese have a saying: Every journey starts with a few small steps. The economics of the free-market, derived directly from the Bible, apply across the board. This is why Christians must be at the forefront of healthy community reform, pushing back the tide of government interventionism wherever its present.
And this is a long-term issue that won’t be dealt with overnight. Economic interventionism by government has become endemic in communities throughout the world on our watch, as we Christians have tolerated it, to our shame.
Now, it’s time we changed our tune, taking Biblical commands seriously, beginning with the education of the young, both yours and mine. Every nation needs smaller government, less taxation, and more freedom. It’s simply an aspect of thinking and living Biblically, where homeschooling parents can contribute so much to their children, teaching them from the scriptures, “…the law of liberty” (James 2:12).
Are you ready for that?
 Rousas Rushdoony, “Romans and Galatians,” 1997, p.278-9.