Too much economic intervention creates moral lassitude

By April 5, 2007Theology

For me, sin has a technical and a moral basis. Given that, in spite of Genesis, we are not omniscient, we will inevitably make the wrong choices, not being in full possession of the facts. For me this is ‘original sin,’ and a massive argument for a free market economy, which is more ‘intelligent’ than a command economy. This is different from ‘moral’ sin, which comprises sins of commission and omission. This is a massive argument for an interventionist economy, provided that it is lead by a ‘moral’ authority. So we are at an impasse. Another arbitrating doctrine or principle is required to provide guidance.

The provenance of the free will which makes sin a possibility was the loving creation of man by God. Given freely in love, love is its progenitor. Does love suggest the binding of free will through intervention in order to control outcomes for the good, or is this well-meaning delusion? Does love suggest the letting go of outcomes and therefore a more radical trust in God? Love for neighbour involves a recognition of Christ in them and their fellow creation by God. Who are we therefore to puff ourselves up through interventions because we know best? Christians would be better advised to focus on inputs – deontological and virtuous – rather than outputs which cannot truthfully be predicted or controlled in the context of a complex economic, social and political context. This might lead to a world which is less ‘Christian’ to our eyes, and may sit uncomfortably with our notions of Western morality, but may be more globally equitable and more adult. To insist on spurious structures of control is to commit the ultimate sin of despair: in short, it is heretical, because it abandons faith and hope, in an egotistical and distorting privileging of love (cf Bonhoeffer’s Ethics).

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