The cyberworld is abuzz with the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. But while some weep and others rejoice, the decision which warrants a shout of elation from all Christ followers remains uncommented upon – the SCOTUS decision dealing a blow to our prison industrial complex. The Christian obsession with sex has once again distracted us from the issues which most threaten our society and our souls.
The systematic exclusion of those trapped in poverty and the concentration of wealth into the hands of a few stands as one of the most damning indictments against the church in our age. Jesus warned his disciples about the dangers surrounding materialism more than anything else which might jeopardize our fidelity to God.
There are seven passages where Jesus deals with sex (focused on divorce or adultery) while there are 37 passages where Jesus deals with the power of money and possessions to derail our faith. You might say that Jesus warned his disciples far more often about the use of their coins than the use of their loins. This is not to say that a healthy and grace-filled debate on sexual practice isn’t one place for Christians to engage culture. I simply find it convenient that the attention of the Church is almost exclusively focused upon how we (or the world around us) engage in sex while the rampant consumerism and materialism running unopposed in our churches, our homes and our souls gets so little air time.
The marriage that Christians should be concerned about is the marriage between prison and profit.
Prison has exacerbated racial and economic inequity in American society. America has incarceration rates which outrank any other country on the planet. What’s more, we incarcerate minorities more aggressively than white people, though crime is committed in equal proportions between racial groups. Private prison corporations are making a mint off of our out-of-control compulsion to put and keep people behind bars. On June 26, the Supreme Court declared certain aspects of the Federal Three Strikes Sentencing laws unconstitutional. “Invoking so shapeless a provision to condemn someone to prison for 15 years to life does not comport with the Constitution’s guarantee of due process.”
We have a serious prison ailment in our country which is driven, in part, by greed. Out-of-control sentencing which is filling up our prisons and bloating the coffers of for-profit prisons is keeping some families trapped in poverty generation after generation.
Many of my Christian brothers and sisters are intensely interested in who’s in bed with their neighbors. But anyone eager to give their energies to the things which filled Jesus’ sermons should give a bit more attention to who’s in bed with their banks.