Public Square

How Greedy Is Your State?

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Geographers from Kansas State University created a series of maps of the Seven Deadly Sins across America. The maps highlight the most sinful regions in red and the least sinful regions in blue.

The sins are mapped spatially and calculated per capita as follows:

  1. Wrath – total number of violent crimes reported to the FBI.
  2. Envy – total number of thefts.
  3. Gluttony – number of fast food restaurants.
  4. Greed – comparing average incomes with the total number of inhabitants living beneath the poverty line.
  5. Lust – number of sexually transmitted diseases.
  6. Sloth – comparing expenditures on arts, entertainment, and recreation with the rate of employment.
  7. Pride – as the root of all sins, it’s measured by the aggregate of all data.

Arguments can be made questioning the correlation between any of the measured variables and their respective sins, but the one that raised the most concern for me was greed, because it was essentially measured by income inequality.

This study reflects our culture’s assumption that the more money you have, the greedier you automatically become. But greed can exist at any income level. Economist Dr. Anne Bradley says,

It is commonly assumed that the rich are de facto greedy and that theft and corruption are their means to wealth accumulation. Thus they view any income inequality as inherently unjust.

In the Bible, Jesus makes it clear that there are righteous rich and there are unrighteous rich. There are righteous poor and there are unrighteous poor. Mark Driscoll explains this in his article, “Theology of the Rich & Poor:”

  1. Righteous rich stewards – Biblical examples of righteous rich stewards include Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job (both before and after his life tragedy and season of poverty), Joseph of Arimathea (who gave Jesus his personal tomb), Lydia (who funded much of Paul’s ministry), and Dorcas (who often helped the poor).
  2. Righteous poor stewards – Biblical examples of righteous poor stewards include Ruth and Naomi, Jesus Christ, the widow who gave her mite, the Macedonian church, and Paul, who often knew want and hunger.
  3. Unrighteous rich stewards – Biblical examples of unrighteous rich stewards include Laban, Esau, Nabal, Haman, the rich young ruler, and Judas Iscariot.
  4. Unrighteous poor stewards – Biblical examples of unrighteous poor stewards include the sluggard and the fool, who are repeatedly renounced throughout the book of Proverbs.

Greed is a heart issue, not an income issue. So don’t be too alarmed if you live in a red region, but don’t celebrate if you live in a blue region either.

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