‘Tis the Season for Shoplifting

Christians (and just about everyone else) understand that shoplifting is simply a fancy 3-syllable word for stealing. That is, I thought we all did:

Delivering his festive lesson, Father Jones told the congregation: ‘My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift.  I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or  because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.

‘I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.

‘I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need.

‘I offer the advice with a heavy heart and wish society would recognise that bureaucratic ineptitude and systematic delay has created an invitation and incentive to crime for people struggling to cope.’

He added that he felt society had failed the needy, and said it was far better they shoplift than turn to more degrading or violent options such as prostitution, mugging or burglary.

There you have it, don’t take from people who are trying to make a living, don’t take more than you need, but go ahead and take the stuff because you have been wronged by society and have thereby lost the ability to make difficult moral choices (such as not breaking the law). Interestingly, Solomon benDavid spoke to this:

Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;

However, Solomon continues:

But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.

Doesn’t sound as though he is condoning it after all. In fact, rather the opposite. In the first sentence, the statement is that the thief would not be despised–not that his thievery would be overlooked. In the second one, we find that punishment is such that he will have to give away the very little has left. I’ve a feeling Solomon might have a thing or two to say to Father Jones.