The Christian tradition has always placed a strong emphasis on property ownership. In fact, it is such a central concept to the law of God that it is one of the Ten Commandments: “do not steal”. The books of the law, like with the other commandments, give various case law examples of how to “not steal” in day-to-day life and business. “Stealing” need not be limited only to the forceful or discrete acquisition of something which is not yours. Various laws against stealing prohibited improper or unjust valuations, as well as inaccurate weights and measures (Leviticus 19:35-36), usurous and consumptive interest on debts (Exodus 22:25), negligent destruction of property (Exodus 21:35-36, 22:6), breaches of trust (Exodus 22:7), and so on. Laws against theft were to be punished by restoration of whatever was stolen, plus an extra amount (usually 20-25%) to account for the damage done by the deed. Under God’s Law, whoever owns a piece of property really owns it; it is truly his, and only he has a right to its use. Disputes about property ownership were made before God between private parties, mediated by the Levitical priesthood as a representative of God’s law. God is the proprietor of all things, and hence is the only appropriate mediator to any dispute regarding property rights.
Secular humanism, by contrast, regards civil government as the possessor of all things. It does this in a variety of ways, first by ignoring God and His dominion over all of Creation, and then by substituting the principles of His Law with a man-made construct like social contract theory or Marxism. There is no God under secular humanism, and so the state itself takes the role of God in possessing all things. Rather than disputes about private property being handled by private parties before God Himself, they are mediated by civil authorities. Rather than civil government collecting a meager and fair tax rate to fund efforts of justice, it collects a variable and burdensome tax rate to fund unjust and overreaching efforts, such as funding abortion clinics, surveilling households, enforcing speech laws, physically and fiscally brutalizing citizens for not wearing a mask in public, and fueling socialistic overreaches of government in almost any area you can name. This is the “Leviathan”, a beast whose expanse is so far and massive that it is almost inconcievable that it could all be one organism, a tyrannical monster whose tentacles reach into every aspect of life, always listening, watching, and controlling the behaviors of otherwise free citizens.
Leviathan has instilled the mentality in many United States civilians that their households ought to consist mainly of “services”, rather than “tools”. The distinction between a service and a tool is not whether the thing in question runs automatically. Many useful tools have an automatic component to them, especially those tools which have use of a computer to manage and run programs autonomously. I am a programmer, and I have implemented many tools to automate certain portions of my life. Similarly, many services are not automatic at all; rarely will your plumber do a monthly check of your home’s domestic hot water system to make sure that everything is running properly. Usually, you have to take the initiative to call your plumber. What distinguishes a tool from a service is rulership. A tool is ruled by its user; it is owned and operated by the one who is using it at that time. Whether it is a simple tool like a hammer or a complex tool like an on-premise database, what distinguishes a tool is that the user can start or stop usage at any time. The user is in complete control over the functionality of the tool, having complete rulership over its every action. Tools include wood stoves, conventional automobiles, radios, and written or purchased computer programs that function in only the task expected of it by the user. A service, by contrast, may be used by a user, but is not ruled by the user. Many things in our daily lives now fall into this category. Whoever manages and owns the resources of a function rules that function. This is a beneficial thing when it comes to plumbing, since many homeowners do not want to have access to all the tools and media required to do everything a plumber does (though I should add, they should have access to many of the things that a residential plumber can do). Paying the plumber for his service simplifies the ability to satisfy the need (aka plumbing), but functions as a fundamental limitation of the homeowner’s rulership. This is not necessarily a bad thing; market participants should each have their own “thing” they are good at and can trade with each other. I am not anti-services in principle; I am opposed to an excess of services. When a householder maintains their house primarily by dispensing money instead of labor, there is a significant amount of rulership that is being given to other people outside of the household. It is one thing to let your plumber handle your pipes; I can’t work with pipe or hot water heaters very well. It is another thing entirely to have almost every service around your home taken care of for you; someone to mow the lawn, someone else to plow the driveway, someone else to fix the toilet and replace the shower head, someone else to install updates on your computer (even if it is done remotely by Microsoft), someone else to keep your documents safe and allow you to edit them, and so on. There are even services now which will entirely handle even the very basics of living life; they will plan your diet, deliver groceries to your door, recommend clothing for you to purchase, and give you a live feed of everything you should be reading, watching, and looking at in a given day.
Leviathan loves consumers of services, because consumers of services are generally helpless to provide for themselves in their absence. Many have foregone the acquisition of tools and skills in exchange for the acquisiton of services. For many farmers, homesteaders, and otherwise rural folk, the idea of relying on a service instead of a tool is unthinkable, likely because up until very recently the services were generally unreliable. Urban dwellers are closer to major hubs of modern resources like natural gas, landscapers, and grocery stores, and are under the illusion that these services can be relied upon indefinitely. Pragmatic considerations preclude this possibility. It is a startling reality that there is often no more than a couple days worth of food supply in a major city. A major disruption in the food service industry combined with a populus which lacks the tools to grow its own food is a recipe for disaster. The solution to this problem is the recognition that every man has a God-given sphere of authority to rule over. The purpose of the property he has been given is to help him in ruling over the domain he has been given. The extent of his domain begins with his mind, which must be submitted to the word of the Lord. It extends over his household, which includes his wife and children, his house, his property, his businesses, his accounts and relationships. These must also be submitted, as they belong to the Lord too. It even extends over anyone or anything else that God has placed under his care. This includes the poor and needy in his life, those who need his protection and support and guidance, his church, his neighbors, and those he interacts with. He is to take responsibility for those around him; it is a joint responsibility which he shares with other men.
Excesses of service consumption are cheap substitutes for a man’s rule over his own dominion. Socialism and Marxism, which have always promulgated service consumption as a worthy ideal, burden a man with taxes to impoverish him and make him unable to take care of the poor and needy in his life. It then uses these unjustly acquired funds to feed Leviathan, a component of which is a monstrous, bloated welfare state which takes care of the poor and needy with meager handouts of taxpayer money. Secular humanism strips a man of his ability to care for the needy in his life according to their own particular set of circumstances; there are many things a welfare check cannot fix. Drug, gambling, and porn addictions come to mind first.
If that were not enough, excesses of service consumption strip a man of his rulership by placing his responsibility to fill household needs on another person. These services are very popular products today, and include monthly subscriptions which fund meal planning services, home and property maintenance tasks, education, auto repairs, and data storage solutions. Every service which maintains a man’s property is a slice of his rulership which he has given over to someone else. Often, for Christians, this means allowing some big corporation who hates them to take part in ruling the household. Alexa, Google Home, Siri, Google Drive, Google Photos, iCloud, iPhone, MacOS, Amazon Prime, Microsoft Windows, and many more are examples of services paid to people who wouldn’t mind seeing Christianity wiped off the planet. You are deluded if you think that you rule these services. Parler, the free-speech social media company, was shut down because their website was hosted on a cloud-based VPS running on Amazon Web Services, and Amazon didn’t like what they were doing. Their website was running on Amazon’s hardware using Amazon’s software; Amazon had every right to shut them down, and they did. If your business depends on Google Drive or Gmail, Google can shut you down within minutes. If your home depends on Google Photos for backups, Google can erase your family memories in an instant and will do so without a second thought. If you rely on any of these services to store your data on “the cloud”, it is being hosted on their servers, accessed via their credential managers.
These malevolent technocrats have even begun to encroach upon the sphere of the conscience. The iron fist of the social media company Meta (formerly Facebook) has spearheaded this effort with their proprietary content recommendation algorithms on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Algorithms collect a user’s information in order to present them with a feed of information that they are recommended to consume, censored and cleansed of any content that goes against the narrative of their secular humanist worldview. No teacher has ever succeeded in presenting this much information to a student’s mind in the history of pedagogy; big tech has successfully manufactured computer-automated discipleship. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram do this, as well as search engines like Google and Bing and streaming platforms like YouTube and Netflix. You are being discipled, and the depth of the craziness has not even begun yet. Facebook recently announced that it has bigger plans to create an immersive interconnected virtual reality experience that will allow users to create their own virtual worlds and experiences. It is likely that Google and Microsoft will create competing technologies to dissociate every aspect of the mind from the fabric of reality itself. If there was any question about whether Big Tech is pumping the brakes on the whole social media thing: they aren’t. They are not satisfied with addictive smartphone apps; they want you all in, chained to the feed trough like cattle being fattened for the slaughter. Big Tech is mind poison, corrupting the the very first thing that a man is supposed to rule in his life.
What must be reclaimed is the Biblical notion of a man’s responsibility to rule his mind and his household. This is because the whole Universe is a household (an oikos), and Christ, seated high above every authority and power, is running it like one (an oikonomia, a house-law, often translated administration; see Ephesians 1:10 NASB95). We are in God’s house. He has complete authority and dominion over every square inch of the entire cosmos (Matthew 28:18-20), and will reign until it is all functioning in accord with His will (1 Corinthians 15:20-28). In like manner, as C.R. Wiley says, our households ought to mimic the household of Christ, and our authority over the domain he has given us our to mimic his authority over His domain. Christ is a householder and a king, so too we ought to be kings and householders, restorers, protectors of the vulnerable and innocent, slayers of enemies, rulers with gravitas, competence, power, and kindness. Christ is a husband, so too we, as husbands, ought to aspire to a husbandry like His, caring for our wives and ruling them in the same way that Christ cares for and rules the Church (Ephesians 5:21-33). So too, as much as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft want to rule the world, they can’t; it’s Christ’s house. They shouldn’t rule our houses either. They are good for nothing but to be seperated like chaff and burned. Get rid of them and have nothing to do with them, as far as is possible. Rule your household; it is your responsibility before God. Learn to grow your own food, mow your own lawn, educate your own children, fix your own car, store your own data, and bring all things in submission to Christ as far as you have the authority to.Share this post:
Chris Carter is the Editor in Chief of The New England Reformer. Chris earned a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Clarkson University, but his post-univserity studies have taken him through various topics in theology and church history. He currently lives in Rochester, New York, but he also occaisionally preaches at a small baptist church in his hometown in Vermont.