Money, sex and power, writes Richard Foster, are inseparably intertwined:-
Money manifests itself as power. Sex is used to acquire both money and power. And power is often called ‘the best aphrodisiac’. We could discuss at length the interlacing connections. There is, for example, an important relationship between sex and poverty: sex is the poor man’s holiday and the poor woman’s disaster. Note also the connection between power and wealth: power is frequently used to manipulate wealth, and wealth is used just as frequently to buy power. And on it goes. The truth is that it is not really possible (or even desirable) to unravel all the intricate ways money, sex, and power intertwine.
Foster comments on the social implications: the social dimension to money is business; for sex it is marriage; for power it is government.
The monastic response to the issue of money is seen in the vow of poverty, and the Puritan response in their stress upon industry.
The monastic response to the issue of sex is seen in the vow of chastity, and the Puritan response in their stress upon faithfulness.
The monastic response to the issue of power is seen in the vow of obedience, and the Puritan response in their stress upon order.
There is, of course, a proper place for money, sex and power. But our use of them can go bad.
- When money goes wrong it becomes greed.
- When sex goes bad it becomes lust.
- When power goes wrong it becomes pride.
Based on Money, Sex and Power. Hodder, 1985, 1-15.
Jesus is Lord
Tom Wright has an interesting comment on the lordship of Christ.
He reminds us that the three great prophets of late modernity were Marx, Freud and Nietzsche. What does Paul’s gospel say about their great themes: money, sex and power?
1. If Jesus is Lord, Mammon is not. The gospel challenges the high priests of Mammon, and tells those who urge us to worship at his shrine that there is another king, namely Jesus. In our society, debt (which used to be seen as sordid and shameful) is glamorised, and adverts tell us that with a credit card, ‘You’ve got the whole world in your hand,’ or that your card, ‘makes the world go round’. But these claims are not only palpably untrue; they conflict with the claims of Jesus. Preaching the gospel entails confronting the evils of mammon and the plight of those ravaged by debt.
2. If Jesus is Lord, the goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of erotic love, is not. Aphrodite stalks the streets of every modern city, just as she did in the pagan cities of Paul’s day. She continues to hold millions in her iron grip, promising bliss but giving confusion and misery. She, too, must be challenged in Jesus’ name. The church must eschew the old dualism which has implied that sexuality is to be denied or repressed, but at the same time challenge any capitulation to the pagan notion that whatever Aphrodite demands, must at once be granted as a basic human right. Allegiance to the true king will lead us to rediscover what genuine self-giving love is all about.
3. If Jesus is Lord, then the ‘principalities and powers’ are not. The church must learn again to proclaim that in Jesus there is a different sort of power, a power made perfect in weakness. Paul’s brief but telling instruction regarding the authorities of this world in Romans 13 is by no means a charter for bullying governments. Rather, what it does is put worldly authority in its place – accountable to the one who is Lord of all.
Based on What St Paul really said, 155-157.