“If money is the root of all evil, then why do they ask for it in church?” Such a clever critique, really sticking it to us church folk, huh? We see this popular attack on sidewalk chalk boards outside those oh so enlightened coffee shops. It can also be seen in meme generator apps when you ask for an example for a Philosoraptor meme. This quick attack could be devastating to the uninitiated, “but we are initiated aren’t we Mr. Wayne”. Sorry, that expression always triggers me to think of the first fight scene between Batman and Bane in the Dark Knight Rises. But anyways, let’s take a detailed look at this argument.
This argument is beautiful-“Wait really, Park?” Yes, it’s a beautiful example of a straw man argument. A straw man argument is an informal fallacy where you give the impression of destroying your opponents position but in reality you have refuted a position your opponent hasn’t claimed or sought to advance. Instead of facing your actual opponent, you build a scare crow of him and tear it down. So like I said this argument could be devastating.. If it were true.
The goal of this expression is to expose an inconsistency in Christian churches.
“If you Christians say that money is the root of all evil, then why do you ask for my money in your churches? Seems incredibly inconsistent and blatantly obvious, if you ask one as enlightened as I.” Ah yes, yes, quite so… Except Christians don’t say that money is the root of all evil. “Uhhhh waaah? Park, I’m sure Christians say that, it says it somewhere in that silly book of myths you hold to so blindly”.
Let’s take a look at that verse.
“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
Can you see the differences between what the attack says we believe vs. what the Bible calls us to believe? You may think it slight, but the addition of several words changes the meaning drastically.
The LOVE of money is the root of ALL KINDS OF evilS. So we see that there is nothing inherently evil in money itself. Paul, the writer of this letter to Timothy, is not telling us to fear an inanimate coin or piece of cotton or paper, the evil is found in the LOVE of money. This warning has less to do with venerated dead presidents and more with the famous slogan of 50 Cent: “Get rich or die trying”.
Paul is warning his people to watch out for the desperation that devours those who obsess over money. Think Ebenezer Scrooge, Al Capone, the father from Lucky Number Sleven, every evil villain… Like ever. Paul is just reiterating the exhortation of our Lord Jesus when Jesus said “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24).
My dad used to clean carpets for a man who made millions as a day trader. Every chance he got, my dad would pump him for nuggets of wisdom. One day my dad asked him the secret of money and the man said: “Money is a great tool, Jim, and a horrible master”. Ain’t that the truth? Again, there is nothing inherently evil about money, although some might make the case that leaving the gold standard in 1933 or severing all ties with it in 1971 was evil, it still doesn’t follow that money in and of itself is morally wrong. The love of it is A root of all KINDS of evil.
Indeed those desperate to be rich fall into all sorts of snares. Watch any documentary on drugs. Study any famous gangster. Look at how Malcom in the Middle’s dad went from cooking pancakes in his underwear to a meth King Pin. Look at how many business men have pierced themselves with pangs as the scratch and claw to climb the corporate ladder. This doesn’t mean that providing for your family is evil. This doesn’t mean we should all be destitute in our shirts made of hair. It means watch out lest you succumb to thee obsession of being rich.
The Bible has much to say about chasing after money. King Solomon says: “Do not toil to acquire wealth: be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:4-5). Jesus gets right to the point when he says: “for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Money can be a great tool, but it is a terrible master. What good is it to spend your whole life pursuing riches, obsessing over more and more, storing up treasures for yourself here on earth where robbers can break in and steal, where moths chew holes, where rats eat at your basement stash of cash (Bad Boys II), where rust eventually gets your fancy stuff. “Yeah but Park, I have a sick security system!” Watch the Italian Job. “Well I keep my treasures in the bank!” Check out the movie Inside Man. “My treasures are invested in the stock market!” Have you not seen the Big Short? “Ok, Park, those are all just movies, give me a break!” Ok, ok. All I’m trying to poke at is the 50 Cent mentality of get rich or die trying, that’s the philosophy of wealth that Jesus and Paul are warning us against. Your life is but a mist, like the morning dew that you always forget about when you walk outside in your socks for the paper or to move your car. You are here today and gone tomorrow. The warning is to watch out for the love of money which is the root of all kinds of evils. Serve the Lord who’s burden is light and yoke is easy, avoid making money your master for it is cruel and demanding, never satisfied with your service, it will suck the life out of you.
If the quote “money is the root of all evil” isn’t the proper quotation, why do they keep using it?
To him who boasts tomorrow’s gain, tell me what is your life? A mist that vanishes at dawn, all glory be to to Christ.