Children And Private Property

“As bad as the attitude may be when a child gets upset that somebody has taken his or her toy, the fact of the matter is that reflects a very important ethical concept, its the concept of private property” (Greg Bahnsen)

What do we do when our children begin yelling at one another, “That is mine, give it back….I had it first…..” We immediately want to jump into a lesson about sharing. However, we may want to reconsider that.

The eighth commandment, “Thou shall not steal,” assumes that people can lawfully own things that are specifically theirs. Since people can ownprivate property things, it means for someone to take it from them without their consent is theft. Any system that demands communal ownership or coerced wealth transfers are therefore considered biblically unjust and a violation of God’s command.

The eighth commandment presupposes that we have property to care for. We have also been asked to be good stewards of that property, and it is a God-given means for us to flourish. We are not supposed to bury the talent, but multiply it. However, this cannot happen if someone comes and takes it, thus the importance of this command.

This very commandment is violated by our government. They tax us on our property with the threat that if we do not pay we will lose that property…..OUR property. Land was meant to be an inheritance to future generations (Lev. 25; Deut 19:14). Unfortunately families that cannot afford the tax on this inheritance will lose it or have to sell it off. It is an attempt by the State to defund and disinherit the family. It also removes the incentive to improve one’s property as this will cause the taxes to go up. It is theft and it is anti-biblical.

We also see this in welfare systems; Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, public schooling, etc. Money is taken from one group and given to another with a threat attached to it for failing to do so. It is a tax and spend wealth transfer. This is also theft.

Private property is important to God and important to the dominion mandate. As the citizens of our socialistic America become more numb and comfortable with this practice, it becomes harder and harder to speak out about it without receiving some kind of opposition. But we must teach our kids what God says about this and that they should speak out on this issue in their day as well. We start at toy-level. We have to let them know the Robin Hoods (rob the rich to feed the poor) and the Lyndon B. Johnsons (take it from the haves and give it to the have nots) are unjust according to the God who created all things, owns all things, and sets the rules.

So when we hear our children yelling “That is mine, give it back….I had it first,” etc., we should see it as an opportunity to teach the eighth commandment and not communism. Johnny’s cap gun is not a communal property. It is simply Johnny’s property. If he is not willing to share it with his siblings then they should look for something else to play with. To take it from him without his permission is theft. Simple right?

Note: Sharing and giving are good things. This is also not a time to teach selfishness. But here is the difference: Giving and sharing come out of charity not coercion. Christians have a duty toward the poor (Christians also fall in that camp) and a command to love their neighbor. This not an opportunity to neglect others or get ahead, but an opportunity to teach that no one has the right to take from another his or her private property. 

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