Stealing from God
S. M. Hutchens on the Eighth Commandment
The Eighth Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” met for many months a block in my own mind, for I had surprising difficulty determining to my own satisfaction what stealing was. Theft, it would appear, is unlawful deprivation of ownership, but ownership is a problematic concept whose connections with the mind and will of God are easily obscured by thinking in terms of political and legal philosophy. Whether we lean toward the communalist or individualist pole, we tend to think of property held privately or in common as a natural right recognized and protected by the state. These conceptualizations carry a strong secular bias and should not be entirely satisfactory to people who believe in God.
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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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