THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND PRIVATE PROPERTY

Michael Medved

1/27/2011 2:36:41 PM - Michael Medved

While leaders of the religious left portray the Bible as a neo-socialist document that emphasizes sharing resources with the poor, the stone tablets at the core of our tradition tell a different story. In late January, Jewish congregations around the world read the Exodus passage introducing the Ten Commandments, and two of those ten explicitly stress the sanctity of private property. God commands humanity not to steal—seizing wealth belonging to someone else – and not to covet your neighbor’s house, his animals, or “anything that belongs to your neighbor.” The commandment says material goods belong to the individual, not the state, or even to God. We are obliged to help the poor through acts of personal charity, but nothing suggests that government should seize private property against the will of its owners to achieve some higher good.