A Culture that Revels in Denying the 10th Commandment

You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Exodus 20:17

What would happen if American Christians took seriously the 10th Commandment – the one that tells us not to covet?

Here’s my guess: The economy would collapse.

Our financial system is based on advertising that feeds into a covetous lifestyle. I just saw a story on PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly (“Advertising Ethics”) that talked to Christian leaders about the sins associated with advertising. They talked about sex and violence in ads (which is what we have come to expect Christians to get uptight about), but they never touched upon the single most important sin of advertising: That advertisers seek to make us want things that we do not need. They seek to make us unsatisfied and discontent with what we have, creating in us a desire for that which others have.

What would happen if we Christians would say, “I refuse to be coerced in such a sinful way. I will not give in to the culture of discontent. I will live without the latest gizmo, the most fashionable brand-name clothes. I will become aware that every time I watch TV, read a magazine, listen to the radio, or surf the internet, I am being bombarded with marketing geared to make me covet.”

For an insightful article on how global marketers are seducing young people into a covetous life, see Tom Sine’s article, "Branded for Life".

Also, check out the book by my friend and fellow CCO staffer, Sam Van Eman, On Earth as It Is in Advertising?: Moving from Commercial Hype to Gospel Hope (Brazos Press, 2005).

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phil & allie mollenkof said...

Bob, I agree with you. I think our economy would collapse. Thanks for the thoughts.

Bob Robinson said...

Phil and/or Allie,
I find it such a struggle not to get sucked into it myself!! The American marketing machine has crept its way into my inner-being...

theologien said...

Isn't this a little how we do evangelism? We create a "need," and then try to get people to want that more than anything?

We end up with fire insurance, or a panacea to some emptiness in our lives, instead of the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Bob Robinson said...

Before I became a follower of Jesus, I was in sales and marketing. It was very easy for me to apply my learned skills to the task of evangelism in those early days. I was always creating a need and selling Jesus as the solution to that need. I "closed a lot of deals" in those days. I was "quite the evangelist."

I am still passionate about evangelism, but now I shudder at those early days. Now I feel my role is to just be an authentic witness, a person who tells the story of who Jesus is and how he is transforming the world, with plenty to say about my own personal transformation process!