Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 02 October 2014


By Jim JordaL

The newest public crusade seized upon by newscasters, flacks, talking heads, and pundits of all sorts seems to be against abuse and its cousin bullying in all their common forms---spousal, child, geriatric, sexual, worker, public safety and others. What seems significantly missing is any serious attention to what we could call financial abuse, or the use of financial power to abuse less fortunate persons in society.

Abuse can be defined as the use of words, social pressure, physical strength, high socio-economic position, or any other form of power to improperly treat, minimize, or in other ways “put down” helpless or vulnerable persons or groups having less power.

 It has been said that almost every human society that has ever existed has had some form of social status system for the purpose of ranking and treating people based upon some observable trait like race, sex, size, or family history. Probably the best example would be the classical Indian caste system that placed persons in lifelong castes based mostly on skin color, family of origin, and occupation. But does this all-too-human preoccupation with the status of others make it necessary for us to abuse and oppress others who possess less power than we do? There were status rankings in Jesus’ time, but he often surmounted them with love and a soft revealing of the intent lying behind the system.

When government fails to protect vulnerable people from abuse it fails in one of its major duties. If government won’t do it, usually because of the power of abusers to control government, then groups of abuse victims seek support from their fellows by uniting into various groups. This has happened today for racial and sexual groups and for many other individuals. But the thrust of revived attention has so far not reached perhaps the greatest of all sources of abuse---the brutalizing of people and families by predatory corporations and financial entities having power to literally destroy their families and shut down the economy.

It’s good that we’re paying more attention to abuse, whether by football players, athletes of all kinds, and even public institutions like schools, prisons, asylums, and nursing homes. But we need to attack abuse on a level higher than merely pointing out how individuals are victimized by other individuals or public institutions.

We need to begin to view abuse as something inherent in any system allowing certain people to have power over others. Whether by law, political power, financial inheritance, or corporate boardroom; the ability of holders of power to take advantage of their favored position to flagrantly oppress others is contrary to both human reason, to the social contract underlying Western law and jurisprudence, and to the law given by God Himself.

The Jubilee law of God found in Leviticus 25 points out how biblical justice in all segments of society would minimize abuse, bullying, and oppression of all types. Debtors would be protected against abuse by their creditors. The earth and its natural systems would be shielded from abuse by greedy exploiters and developers. Workers would be delivered from rapacious wage slavery and endless hours of work just to exist at the subsistence level. Intergenerational poverty and its abusive effects on families would be ended by periodic redistribution of world wealth---not equally, but equitably. And the greatest scourge of all, one that has devastated billions of people and their families and cultures throughout recorded history, the use of interest-bearing debt to enslave much of humankind, will be abolished as usury disappears from use.

We work at minimizing abuse mainly between individuals in the family and in the workplace. God is interested in eliminating abuse as a form of injustice wherever it exists, even between nations. It’s good that we are awakening to the inroads of abuse between individuals and within institutions. We would do much better if we realized that abuse as we know it arises at least partly from the stresses and feelings of powerlessness by the masses unnecessarily abused by corporate and institutional holders of economic and political power.