Hands out of the cookie jar? (But why?)

April 29, 2007 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

A family friend of ours is in the middle of correcting her daughter’s habit of stealing. She’s concerned that Valerie’s only rationale for avoiding theft is escaping unpleasant consequences (such as parental discipline now or jail time when she gets older). This mother wants to drill into Valerie’s head the real reason for not stealing: because stealing is “an offense to God.”


I wonder how much sense this rationale should make to a child. (Or to an adult, for that matter.)

I mean, pardon my impertinence, but why in the world should God have reason to be offended about, say, a cookie missing from the cookie jar? Doesn’t this line of thinking make stealing simply an issue of ruffling the feathers of an overly touchy deity?

It’s as bad as saying that touching a hot stove is harmful because Mom said so. The statement confuses cause and effect: it’s not “Mom’s saying so” that makes the hot stove harmful to one’s fingertips.

Stealing might be “offensive” to God, but that’s not why it’s wrong. Things are the other way around: stealing is an offense to God because it is wrong—i.e. because it violates the fundamental order of our world, destroys human relationships, eliminates the possibility of trust. To speak simply about “offense to God” seems to me to miss the point.

Agree or disagree? Why do you think stealing is wrong?


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

The self: Atomistic or relational? Finis!

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profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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