Roland S. Martin Editorial


I just finished reading an editorial (if you could call it that – rather a brief meandering) by Roland S. Martin.  I’ll say up front that I have no beef or problem with Roland, or even what he says, per se.  Prior to reading this little piece of his, I’d never heard of him.


http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/20/martin/index.html?eref=rss_topstories


That being said, Martin misses a couple of key issues with greed and lust and why they’re such major issues in the three major monotheistic faith traditions.  And I’ll add the disclaimer up front that at least Christianity, and I’m fairly certain Judaism and Islam, have gone overboard at times trying to deal with these two issues.


They’re big issues because unlike a lot of other negative or destructive behavior, they directly impact other people.  Obsession with either sex or money drives behavior that not only destroys the one obsessed, but contributes to the destruction of those who fulfill or block the person’s obsession.


Multiple sex partners is destructive in that it dehumanizes both people involved.  It sets a patter for both people (assuming they both engage in multiple sexual partners, or serial monogamy) that eventually prevents them from forming intimate, exclusive relationships that can last. 


Greed is destructive not only in that it consumes the greedy person, but also in that it damages those that contribute to or prevent the person from their hunger for more money, more power, more prestige.  No, it doesn’t matter if you make $100,000 or $1,000,000 – strictly speaking.  But it does matter what making any sum of money great or small does to you in the process, and causes you to do to others in the process.  Does it cause you to neglect your family?  Not good.  To neglect friends, faith, health, etc.?  Not good.  Does it lead you to view others in terms of what they can procure for you or provide to you?  Do you begin viewing people’s value by their income or job title?  Not healthy.


You can tithe on any amount of money you make and still have a problem with greed.  Tithing is not a response to the issue of greed – it’s intended as a reminder of the source of all we receive – regardless of how much or how little that may be.  People that tithe thinking that should ease their conscience about their behavior, or make the church or anyone else allow them free reign in their greed or other indiscretions is sorely misled. 


Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are not simply a collection of random belief statements.  Extracting two issues – greed and lust in this case – from any of these faith systems and thinking that you can speak coherently about how the issues are treated is misguided.  These faiths are not guides to behavior, per se.  The behavioral guidelines are meant to reinforce a larger picture understanding not only of the individual, but the universe as a whole.  Sex and greed – just like any other behavior taken to extreme or excess – are problematic less in that inappropriate behavior violates commandments or precepts, but in that it leads people away from the larger view of themselves, others, and the universe. 

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