Watching the Kyle Rittenhouse trial I was struck by the prosecution’s inferences that defending property from destruction by rioters demonstrates perverse and misplaced moral values – a valuing of property over human life, an expression of rapacious greed.

The prosecutors of Rittenhouse that minimized the riotous destruction as well as the rioters themselves who smashed windows, stole goods, and burned businesses, apparently believe that employment is oppression, work is slavery, and owning a business is a sign of greed.

To these people, destroying businesses is a way to take a heroic stand against these moral evils.  If the business owners and horrified citizens were truly good spiritual people, they wouldn’t mind having to part with worldly goods.  Jesus calls his followers to renounce this world, doesn't he?

Those who support such theft apparently believe that Jesus’ call to renounce this world is permission to divest others of their property with impunity.  Those that dare to protect their buildings using young armed men like Kyle Rittenhouse are selfish, greedy, and materialistic – the true villains .

For many this passes for deep spirituality.  Some would even see it as the teaching of Jesus.  They don’t recognize the deceptive and distorted half-truths of the one Jesus withstood in the wilderness.

I believe people accept these lies because there is a side of the Judaeo-Christian ethic with which they are either unfamiliar or, if they are familiar, they reject it outright.  I present here a pencil sketch of that other side for your consideration.

God places immense value on productive work.  Man was made for productive labor and work is a key part of the blessed life in Eden (Gen. 2.15).  Furthermore, the one positively-stated law among the Ten Commandments says:  “Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20.9).  Productive labor is neither an evil nor a curse, but a divine blessing, an outworking of purpose, the intention of God for us.

Likewise, the “stuff” our labor produces is a blessing from God (Ps 128.2).  Children are the fruit of one’s body and earnings and goods they purchase are the fruit of one’s labor.  Both blessings of life rightfully belong to the one that produces them, and for another to deprive one of these fruits is always a great moral evil.  “You shall not murder”“You shall not steal”; and not insignificantly, kidnapping, prohibited in Exodus 21.16, is literally in Hebrew “one who steals a man” and is a capital offense, even if the kidnapped person is found alive!

To attack one’s livelihood, or the fruits of one’s livelihood, is a form of attack on someone’s life.  The fruits of one’s labor express and reveal things about a soul, just as God’s creation reveals things about Him (Rom. 1.20). 

An attack on creation is a form of attack on the Creator.  So protecting the fruit of one’s labor from destruction, whether by fence or wall, locks or alarms, or by posting an armed guard, is protecting an extension of one’s life – one’s livelihood

It is not greed but a show of proper appreciation and thankfulness for blessing.