The organization and distribution of wealth is fundamental to how a society functions and can produce socially beneficial outcomes when done in a just and transparent manner. Everyone has to know the rules and the rules have to be seen as fair.
When the rules of wealth distribution and access to wealth are not clear or simply unjust and discriminatory the outcomes are inevitably perverse and destructive.
In previous decades the brunt of economic hardship in many Western societies was often born by marginalized communities which suffered disproportionately from unemployment and social problems such as substance abuse and family break down.
In many Western societies these problems were seen as specific to these communities and were characterized as racial or ethnic problems.
Now, the polarization of society into extreme concentrations of wealth and everyone else has seen the burden of recession and unemployment spreading to communities in society that were perhaps previously protected.
In America, white middle class families and communities are suffering economically in a way that they have perhaps not experience before. The social, spiritual and psychological toll of this has been devastating for many in what were once small towns and cities spread throughout the United States.
As jobs and industries have moved over seas the collapse into substance abuse and despair has been profound as detailed in books like Deaths of Despair, by Anne Case and Angus Deaton.
Deaths of Despair by Anne Case and Angus Deaton
All to often, within Christian circles, substance abuse and its attendant issues are seen as failures in personal and spiritual morality. Those affected are urged to exercise more self control, more will power.
Personal responsibility is a major factor in substance abuse, but the social and economic dimension must also be acknowledged.
The failure of Churches across the West to acknowledge the detrimental effects of certain political and economic effects on society is serious. The Church has a responsibility to uphold to uphold responsible political and economic planning.
The Church can be politically agnostic and avoid partisan politics but the Church must speak out when it sees clear economic harm to society as a whole.
In order to be able to address these issues it is important that the leaders of the Church have some grounding in political economy and most importantly the biblical teachings on these same issues. Namely, Leviticus 25.