Here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
–Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV)
Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
–Philippians 2:3 (HCSB)
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
–Romans 12:16 (ESV)
We cannot be selfish and selfless at the same time. Nothing spiritual can be gained in competition.
–A. W. Tozer
The business world is controlled by competitive people, because it’s been running this way for centuries. These people don’t always start out as competitive types, but the more involved they get with secular employment, they become competitive because that’s what is expected of them. It’s an evolutionary “survival of the fittest” business culture; and it spills over into our families, our kids, and our schools. It’s what caused one Christian school kid to turn to Satanism, calling himself by the stage name Marilyn Manson, tearing up Bibles, and singing a song that went:
Hey you, what do you see?
Something beautiful or something free?
Hey you, are you trying to be mean?
You live with apes man: it’s hard to be clean
The worms will live in every host
It’s hard to pick which one ate the most
The horrible people
The horrible people
It’s all as anatomic
As the size of your steeple
Capitalism has made it this way
Old-fashioned fascism will take it away
Duly noted! I also think that Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith can help to illustrate some of my points here. Some individuals might start out pure like Anakin Skywalker, but they eventually give into the temptation of a corrupt power that leads them to taking sides with tyrants, and the view that might alone makes right; and that cruel, oppressive, and unreasonable force must be used to keep their subjects in line. Ambitious apprentices seeking career advancement, will then willingly allow themselves to be guided by Sith lords such as Senator Palpatine, and end up turning into little versions of Darth Vader. They seek to be promoted into management positions, within their companies, which are ruled by tyrannical men. They think that making a type of pact with the devil, is the only way to achieve financial security: like Dr. Faust who turned away from theology, and to black magic for influence, and to the medical profession for high income. Success becomes their only aim. “My son will be a doctor or a lawyer!” We’ve all heard this said before.
To satisfy their spiritual confusion and seared consciences, these will then turn themselves against any Bible-believing family members, as Anakin did to Obi-Wan, and end up saying things like, “From my point of view, the Jedi are evil.” Only to hear them reply, “Well, then you are lost!” Anakin received his evil empire as the right hand man of the emperor, but at a great loss: while fighting with Obi-Wan, his legs were cut off by his lightsaber, and his whole body was burned in a hellish fire. This typifies how men can lose their souls while gaining the whole world (Mark 8:36).
And in the face of such an evil empire fighting against and overwhelming the righteous minority, all Yoda can say is, “Into exile I must go. Failed, I have.” Into the deserts and rural parts will the Jedi retreat: into self-employment, 1099 jobs as independent contractors, sole proprietorships, and overtly Christian yet smaller sized businesses. If they don’t take any action and go into “exile” from Corporate America, then they will be tempted to backslide from Christ and join the Sith Order themselves. This move is a lot like how the Desert Fathers retreated, into the Egyptian desert, to avoid persecution from the Roman Empire. I think that it’s completely fair to compare most of the business world to the Roman Empire, the Galactic Empire in Star Wars, and all of Satan’s kingdoms that Faust and Jesus were tempted by:
The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him (Matt. 4:8-11).
Jesus himself was tempted with a Faustian bargain, but he resisted the devil and made him flee. From that time on, we see Jesus casting demons out of people (Matt. 4:24; 8:16). Similarly, until we come to accept the view that the business world is probably 90% evil, almost entirely: neither will we begin to cast out the demonic spirits of ego, pride, rivalry, favoritism, bribery, dishonesty, selfishness, apathy towards others, hedonism, and materialism from our own lives.
Another clear illustration of all this would be the old film The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), where Jabez Stone sells his soul to the devil in exchange for seven years of prosperity. Then he turns into an adulterer, an unfair loan shark, and becomes a miserable man, with a dull conscience, and on his way to Hell. What a fool! Dude…God can give you power to get wealth (Deut. 8:18). You don’t have to sell your soul to the devil to get some money. And Ren said, “You eeeeediot!” But every cruel, deceptive, competitive businessman, every white collar freemason, hedonist, and drug dealer is trying to get his money in some evil way. Even though their specifics are different, they are all the same breed, they are all children of the devil, and have sold their souls to him, just like Jabez Stone did. Just like some black magic sorcerer, who worships the devil himself, in exchange for riches. I think one line from this movie is worth repeating. It has Webster rebuking Jabez about his misuse of money:
You’re as blind as a Burma bat, with your gold pot! Mind you, it’s not the money, I’ve been talking about, it’s what you make of it.
After watching this film, I came to the conclusion that God’s will must lean towards requiring Christian fathers to sometimes invest in high growth stocks and high dividend stocks, for the purpose of addressing financial problems and responsibilities; and for the maintenance of a relatively comfortable and reasonably middle class lifestyle. But when these men are eventually tempted with the possibility of ascending into the upper class, joining a Masonic lodge, or a country club, they should at that point, stop investing in stocks! That’s enough investing for them. This assumes that all financial responsibilities have been met: including all of your retirement savings. This would be the only way I can think of, to prevent the upwardly mobile Christian from getting fooled by the devil, into thinking like a snob and materialist. This is the best solution that I can propose, to keep the spirit of greed or Mammon out of the house, out of the family, and the salvation of man’s soul intact. The middle class man of the house should continue to fear God, study the Bible, and try to keep God’s commandments (Eccl. 11:1-2; 12:13; Prov. 30:8; Deut. 8:11; Matt. 16:26).
Competition: An Evil and Worldly Force
At the root of it, the word competition can be defined as a contest where two enemies are fighting one another, in order that one of them might win, and the other one might lose. It makes me think of the arcade game Mortal Kombat where the players must fight to the death, and the winner, if he has the special codes, commits a fatality on the other guy. That’s what the business world is like. Competition is a death match, it’s a fight, a test of strength and skills, to see whether you will be the champion who wins, and the others who are competing with you, will become the losers. Some competitive types are total bullies—sadistic, taking pleasure out of pushing people around. But the Lord hates “bloodthirsty and deceitful” men; his eyes are “on the righteous” and he is “against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth” (Psalm 5:6; 34:15-16). So deliver yourself from them and pay their names no mind: they will soon be forgotten.
I’ve said a lot of things against competition in this book, because at the core of it, it runs against the Golden Rule: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets”(Matt. 7:12). “See if I care,” is however, the competitor’s response to such beliefs. Literally apathy and sadism towards others. When I see people like this in action, it infuriates me, but it also motivates me to want to follow Jesus better. Competition anywhere, in jobs, in any human relations, even in sports, tends to amplify the carnal nature and grieve the Spirit of God. Psalms and Proverbs are filled with statements against deceitful, fight-picking, competitive men who take advantage of others in their pursuit of ill-gotten gains.
I think that even so-called “healthy competition” can grieve the Holy Spirit. What is that? Good sportsmanship and praying before the game. What is that supposed to do? At the end of it, competition is a fight to the finish line, to sort out winners and losers. Even if you’re “being nice” about it; and you high-five the enemy at the end of each game. You are still stirring up flesh and envy in the others who lost. Competition in all its forms comes from the world, from Greek and Roman sports, gladiators, and war. It creates enemies where there were none previously. It starts a fight where there was no fight before. It makes men into bullies and bullies into winners; and it makes nice guys finish last.
Guys that intimidate others and say, “You’re fired!” are viewed as strong; and guys that say, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” are viewed as weak and gay. Toxic masculinity is accepted as the normal way for men to behave. This expression has come to be understood by academics as a widespread social expectation that a “real man” should be aggressive, tough, rough, muscular, dominant, bullying, self-reliant and so as a result, mentally disconnected from other men. John Wayne and Arnold Schwarzenegger are often conjured up as images that represent these ideals, which is ironic, because Wayne was actually a surfer and not as hyper-masculine as he was portrayed in the movies; and Arnold has a really goofy and joking personality. But many guys will isolate the True Grit and Terminator 2 action heroes; and then make these part of their “real man” ideology.
“But every guy’s like that.” No, that’s not true and that’s a cultural lie. Sure these notions are popular, but that doesn’t count for 100% of the guys out there. Besides, it doesn’t matter if that’s currently what your observation and general conclusion is about all men: that they are all ego, and all a bunch of bragging, macho windbags, who are scared of turning into homosexuals. These are what you call homophobes: guys who are so scared of homosexuality that they swing the pendulum to the most masculine extreme possible; and they end up losing the character traits that make up a true gentleman, and turn themselves into low-brow cavemen and ogres. But most of the time, I think this is just a psychological business façade that they adopt, to guard themselves from being rejected by other hyper-masculine football guys, and aging frat boys, in their old boys’ club and bro cultures at the workplace. A macho man or action hero is what most guys think a “real man” is. But what about the women? According to urbandictionary.com, a website where anyone can define colloquial and slang words, and then have others rank their definitions: the most popular view of the “real man,” is the classic version of a gentleman:
A “real man” is what you young folk might call old-fashioned. Chivalry is not dead! A real man has manners, is polite, and considerate. He is honest and open and true to himself. He will fight for and defend the people that he loves. He is a hard worker. He is not spiteful. He respects women and shows appreciation for all his blessings. A real man is the provider of the family. He is strong, physically and mentally, and is never too proud to exhibit strong emotion. Once committed, he is faithful to only his wife. He does not watch porn or disrespect her in any other way. He helps with housework and is a role model for his children. A real man knows who he is, what he wants, and is grateful for what he has.
“A gentleman knows that anything worth having is worth working hard for,” says the Gentleman’s Journal, and he “knows how to dance…knows the difference between confidence and arrogance…is open-minded…means what he says…is always well-presented…always makes eye contact…and doesn’t insist on paying the bill.” In contrast to the most muscle bound, meat-headed, and gruff-mannered of the action heroes, I would think that the actors Jimmy Stewart, Kevin Costner, and Tom Hanks, represent a more balanced view of masculinity, the more gentlemanly type: with their characters often portraying a down-to-earth, folksy combination of intelligence, manliness, humor, and approachability. The gentleman is good material for romance, but he shouldn’t use his skill to be a player like Casanova. If he is married, then he should shun all women like the plague and remain faithful to his wife (Prov. 5:18-20).
A gentleman is not really an action hero per se, although he’s capable of self-defense: but he could just as easily be portrayed by the leading man of a romance film. This is the type of man I see in the Bible within the context of marriage (Gen. 26:8). Mulder from The X-Files had the perfect balance. Keanu Reeves’ film career sort of had this balance between action and romance; and so did Mel Gibson’s when he was younger, but later, he went all the way into action; and the same could be said for Harrison Ford. But a gentleman is much more of a tame, domesticated lover than he is a fighter: more the romantic type than the Rambo type. That’s why in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Princess Leia had such a hard time warming up to Han Solo! He had the attitude of an arrogant macho man, at least at first. A gentleman is more interested in caring for his woman, than fighting with other men, or with her. But proud macho men don’t like humble gentlemen, because they make them look like barbarians and brutes, which they are; and girls like gentlemen way better, which puts all macho men to shame. Leia kissed Luke before she knew he was her brother!
They call the romance movies “chick flicks” for a reason. It’s because when women say they want a “real man,” what they mean is they want a presentable, smart, funny, cute, well read, nice, slim, shaven, sweater-wearing, Christian gentleman, and not a bulky, arrogant macho man or a gun-toting action hero. Proverbs 29:23: “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” Women crave the comfort of domestic life, and the cuddly companionship of a lover: and not to see their men in the soldierly conflict of the battlefield (Song of Songs 2:14; 3:1-2). All that does is worry them! The only thing women like about soldiers seems to be their uniforms, good looks, and strength, but certainly not their careers, which require them to absent themselves for unnaturally long stretches of time. And these Army wives will often be tempted to commit adultery when their husbands are deployed (2 Sam. 11). The same thing could almost be said for police officers and their wives. Lois Lane fell in love with Superman in Superman II, not because of his violence against bad guys, but because of his good looks, strength, and charm: and his humble, if not slightly nerdy, approachable attitude. Christopher Reeves’ Superman was a gentleman, not an arrogant macho man. He was the ultimate gentleman hero! He’s up there with Mulder.
For Christian men what should matter the most, is remaining personally subject to the lordship of the Biblical Jesus! And stay positive! Don’t lose your joy in the Lord! But to accept a macho, competitive ideology into your professional and personal life, is to sellout to the world, imitate the Roman gladiators (1 Cor. 15:32), and leave the words and person of Jesus behind.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God (James 4:1-4).
Competition, according to this brother of Jesus, ultimately stems from jealousy of what other people have. And then fighting to prove that you are more worthy to have those things than they are. Like trying to take their jobs from them. People can’t just simply go to work, and do hard work, without someone else viewing them from a childish and competitive slant. Competition is worldly, unsettling, and distracting. Fights, wars, and even murders can proceed from this covetousness: this breaking of the tenth commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exod. 20:17). Here is the cause for the disintegration of human society: nations fall because of this, sibling rivalry comes from this, families become dysfunctional and estranged because of this, spouses become divorced: and companies self-destruct, all because of this evil thing called competition.
When commenting on the sixth commandment, “thou shalt not kill” (Exod. 20:13), Adam Clarke couldn’t help himself from saying:
All duellists are murderers, almost the worst of murderers; each meets the other with the design of killing him. He who shoots his antagonist dead is a murderer; he who is shot is a murderer also. The survivor should be hanged; the slain should be buried at a crossway, and the hanged murderer laid by his side.
That something as barbaric, hateful, vindictive, and murderous as duelling with guns could be allowed to exist for two hundred years within genteel society; and left almost totally unchecked by law enforcement is completely shocking. All for defending a “culture of honor” lest their sensitive egos be hurt. They would kill a man to end all insults. A Christian society! Yes, the same crowd that enslaved Africans. The same mainline liberal, deistic, antinomian, godless false Christians who lived in mansions and plantations and killed abolitionists during the Civil War. The same ones who harassed every righteous Methodist preacher. The English, the American North, and the American South are all included here, but 19th century America was the worst for its duelling habit. The fact that the emotions of competition and rivalry were simply allowed to reach the fever pitch of deathmatches, in our modern industrial era, is quite alarming.
That our modern American culture, being only a little over a century and a half away from such base upper class murders, occasions for some questioning; and wondering why our then rising but now completely established, Darwinian “survival of the fittest” culture, is still so violently competitive. Think twice when you see those animals tearing each other apart on Nat Geo Wild. Why is this viewed as so entertaining? Because people can relate. They imagine that they are that alpha predator destroying the other animal: their co-workers, family members, and neighbors. It makes them feel powerful. Darwinism tells us that humans came from the animals. And the competition ideology that exists in America is nothing more than economic Darwinism. It’s the idea of “survival of the fittest” being applied to business and personal finance. It’s not a Golden Rule mindset that considers God’s commands to care about others (Php. 2:3).
Competition is essentially nothing else than fighting; and a distraction from the real purpose of business: diligence. Being a “competitive” businessman is nothing to be proud about: it just demonstrates how these people will adopt whatever bad habits other people around them have. Hard-working application of job skills to business activities which end up producing sales for the company: that’s the Biblical virtue of diligence. But so many businessmen are preoccupied with playing mind games, stirring up rivalry, and intimidating others, that they have no time to be diligent, or busy themselves with honest hard work and productive labor! I saw a t-shirt once that said, “My Competition Is Me.” I agree with that statement. Mind your own business! It doesn’t matter that other salespeople are trying to turn their jobs into a freaking game. I think they are just bored with their lives. They are literally gamifying sales, by making leads and closes into things they tally up on a scoreboard like you would see at a baseball game. I think this is ridiculous. I wish these people would just put their noses down, and do their jobs, instead of always looking around at what other people are doing! Not everybody works in sales, but that’s been my experience. And I’m sure these attitudes can be found in many other job occupations. The real money-making activity in business is a dedicated, diligent, productive, persevering work ethic. Internal competition with other co-workers is just a childish distraction. Combining rivalry with hard work, has confused and soiled the modern concept of good job skills being developed by a dedicated work ethic.
“I’m a very competitive person,” you say. So you’re proud of that? Because that’s not something to be proud about according to the Bible. You say, “I’m a very competitive person,” like it’s a good thing, like it’s some strength, or virtue. It’s not! Satan is a very competitive person too; and look where it got him. You are talking about a type of strength, but it’s an evil one. It’s the kind of strength that terrorists or gangs make use of. The type of strength that the Nazis had. You’re speaking about the dark side of the Force if anything. You’re not a strong guardian that protects your family or the public. You’re more like a wild dog: a rabid mastiff, rottweiler, Doberman, or Great Dane: an unleashed, giant dog that goes romping through the park and jumps out at people. Galatians 5:15: “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
What about improving your job skills? Isn’t competition necessary for that to some extent? If that’s what you’re thinking about, then I can see what you mean. But this is a matter of different words and thoughts than that which is conjured up by the word competition. With the common conception of this notion, competition is not what develops good job skills, all it does is develop jerk skills. It is diligence, or hard work, and being teachable and trainable, that develops job skills. What you are likely referring to is imitation: a rookie baseball player imitates a pro ball player in hopes to improve his skills to become better like him. The salesperson who calls 100 times a day is probably producing more business than the other salespeople who only call 50 times a day. If one of the low-performing salespeople wants to increase his selling ability, what’s he need to do? He needs to imitate the guy who calls 100 times a day, and all his other habits and manners, so that he can be good at sales just like him. This sort of thing goes on in sports, in business, in all kinds of places where training and the adoption of new skills are necessary for self-improvement in one way or another. But this is comparison and imitation at diligence, and is useful for the adoption of rules and habits that will enable a low-skilled person to transform into a high-skilled person. This is also experiential education, or what the Puritans called apprenticeship, because it is a learning process through developing good money-making habits, which you have seen in other more skilled people.
But rivalry is a perversion of this skill-acquiring process. Rivalry is when a skill-climber starts to equal or exceed the performance of the person they were imitating. This person then becomes arrogant, proud, and boastful towards that person and others. To illustrate what it is like to become a stronger and holier Christian, the apostle Paul said:
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this (2 Tim. 2:1-8).
In these analogies of becoming a stronger Christian, one of them was to that of an athlete: “anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules” (v. 5). What are the rules for the Christian life? The ten commandments, the sermon on the mount, the whole Bible, and imitating what we read about Jesus as a person in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But the strengthening process of Christian sanctification is not a competition. Athletic competition was only one of the analogies that Paul was referring to. He also referred to being a strong man, a good soldier, and a hardworking farmer. Paul is not talking about rivalry in this passage: he’s talking about discipline and dedication. The strong man, the athlete, the good soldier, and the hardworking farmer all have one thing in common: skills and strength that have been acquired through a disciplined work ethic. But rivalry is an egotistical, hateful, fight-picking perversion of self-discipline.
Rivalry takes self-discipline and uses it for pride and one-upmanship over others. It comes down to bragging about your hard work and the money you earned from it. Few people seem to make the distinction between self-discipline and rivalry: and so they just lump all these things together into one word: competition. The Bible is all about discipline and energetic personal effort, but it also says, “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit” (Php. 2:3, HCSB). Diligence plus rivalry equals competition. Christian ethics shows us to remove rivalry from the equation; and just leave us with a sense of hard working diligence. That includes sports, jobs, relationships, ministry, and possessions. The worldly man says, “Look at me! Look at what I did! Look at what an amazing hard worker I am!” Rivalry should never be mixed in with these things: but if you let it mix in, then you’re not doing that thing the Christian way. Diligence should be a drive to do an excellent job because you want to please the Lord, your employer, or your client; but not so you can just “outdo” some co-worker.
Does one business compete against another business in the same industry? Do these compete over the quality of their products, wages, and prices to win people over? Yes! But they also compete in customer service, internally and externally: treating people according to the Golden Rule. Some companies excel at this, while other companies treat their customers like dirt. Most companies are run by secular thinking men, and so, are guided by Satanic principles: the “spirit of the world” (1 Cor. 2:12). But some companies, perhaps 25% of the American economy, who knows, are run by Christians who try to treat their people right. In that sense, God is competing with Satan in those business competitions. The Pilgrims who traded wampum shells with the Indians, and sold their beaver furs at trading posts, might be an example of this. For a while they were the most successful out of all the settlers, because they knew the Indians.
What about competition around resumes, job applications, and hiring practices? Yes, it is a well-established fact that recruiters, headhunters, and HR directors prefer to grant interviews and job offers to people with bachelor’s degrees, internships, and job skills with bullet points on their resumes, that are in a field which is related and transferrable to the job that people are applying for. The reason for this is simple, and has very little to do with the arrogance and pride of macho men. The fact is that recruiters have hundreds of job applications to sift through. There is a process of selection, screening, filtering, and sorting out that they need to perform to find a quality “candidate” resume to fill the position. And they are often under pressure to do this quickly.
Their companies pressure these poor recruiters to find “cream of the crop” job applicants in a very short time period; and they have to prove to their teams that this is a quality candidate. The quickest way for them to do this is to point to the fact that they have recent and related job skills that are needed; and the fact that they have proven their dedication and perseverance by completing a bachelor’s degree. This is just the way that recruiters and temp agencies are trained to do their jobs. This is not about the haves and the have-nots. It’s about offering their companies the “best” people they can find. Recent research has shown, that most people who retire with a healthy $1 million dollars or more, had a bachelor’s degree, which enabled them to find a decent job which paid them enough, so they could save 20% for retirement with a mutual fund inside of their Roth IRAs or 401(k)s. Ramsey Solutions found that 62% of American millionaires, are in their retirement years; and had at one point graduated with a bachelor’s degree from a regular non-prestigious college. So, usually if a person does not graduate with a bachelor’s degree, then they will have less job prospects, lower wages in the long term, and a lower chance of succeeding to save enough money for retirement.
But such mechanical selection procedures for hiring people, has little to do with positive or negative character traits, or any Darwinistic notions about natural selection. There is little that is evil in such hiring mechanisms and resume screenings. But a lot of what I’m referring to in this book is Machiavellianism: it’s what we in the West have adopted, a sense of competition that’s been blown way out of proportion, and appears in the way we treat others in the office and home; and in the aggressive, and violent, most popular sport called football, which we nationally celebrate. (And which the Puritans condemned entirely.) It is expected of us that we celebrate it. “Bow down to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar, dude! Just make him happy. Better than getting thrown in the furnace!” (see Dan. 3:4-7). I think football has become an idol like that. I think that few people are genuinely interested in football as a game of strategy, skill, and athleticism. Its fanbase is just as shallow as being loyal to a local team and its mascot, and mostly uninterested in the often boring and unexciting plays that the coach is working out in his playbook. Other than it being an established cultural thing that seems to bring people together, it’s hard for me to see any value in football or really any sports. They seem to encourage and celebrate rivalry and competition. Exactly what the Bible tells us not to be like (Php. 2:3).
I personally find football extremely boring to watch: two teams of brutes plowing into each other, falling over, and then getting up and walking around to regroup; and this is repeated about ten to twenty times! Then there’s some guy who punts or throws the ball really far: that’s always sort of cool. Then every once in a while, very rarely, one guy gets the ball and runs all the way down the field ahead of everyone else, but exciting moments such as those barely ever happen; and I’m left wondering why everyone is so passionate about this extremely boring game! Maybe they are ogling the cheerleaders…no. It’s because it is expected of them by their family, friends, and co-workers. It’s got to be peer pressure and nothing more. And it’s all about celebrating aggression and competition. The NFL is run by a rich club of macho frat boys who cuss like sailors and exploit women; and everyone else in the business world is being pressured, and dare I say intimidated, to bow down to their idol. Its influence in the workplace is unmatched.
If you mean to be a God-fearing Christian businessman, then you need to find a way to cast out the spirits of competition and covetousness from your heart in Jesus’ name! You will not succeed as a Christian if you cling to these vices. If you succeed at targeting these two demons, then you will probably not have that much of a problem with ridding yourself of deception, cruelty, and self-interest either. Because these lesser demons are only there to serve the greater causes of competition and jealous greed. Instead, fill up your mind with the Bible. “Here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Eccl. 12:13). Everything else, all that striving in the world of a competitive marketplace, is meaningless and vain by comparison. Does your job let you keep God’s commandments or does it get in the way? If it gets in the way, then change your job!
Regarding economic and spiritual competition, A. W. Tozer said:
It is inherent in the nature of the religion of Christ that it cannot be promoted by competitive acts. The essence of Christianity is selfless love. This was expressed first by our Lord in His redemptive suffering and has been expressed again and again since in every artless deed of kindness done by His followers for each other and for a suffering world. The essence of competition is self-love. Men compete to gain something for themselves, and doing so they must of necessity cause someone else to lose what they gain. From this we gather that the two spirits are opposed to each other.
We cannot be selfish and selfless at the same time. Nothing spiritual can be gained in competition. The very idea of struggling with another for some eternal treasure of the soul is unthinkable. John D. Rockefeller used to enjoy throwing a handful of shiny new dimes to a crowd of children and watching them scramble after them, each one struggling to grab as many as possible. The gifts and graces of God are not thus obtained.
All those people out there, in the business world, in the family, and even the ministry: so many of them don’t seem to care about anything except for financial success achieved through business competition; and cut-throat, snobby, one-upmanship to prove that they’re more worthy of that paycheck than the other guy. That other guy, by the way, might be a born again member of the body of Christ! Did they ever think about that before they threw him under the bus? This does not encourage men to love their neighbors as themselves. They’re like a pack of wolves. To them, they are finished with real camaraderie based on faith and friendship. Even their friends if they have any, are wolves, lions, vultures, bears, foxes, and badgers! Life doesn’t require competition. The only people who think that life is all about competition are competitive, overly ambitious, socially Darwinistic, survival of the fittest, and often mainline liberal, discontented, miserable people who don’t have the peace of God or the witness of the Spirit. Nobody needs to be like that. It’s a choice. Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” But they are hard to convince otherwise. They have this Darwinistic competition narrative running in their heads and they can’t cast the demon out! It’s like a record on replay. It doesn’t matter how much goodwill you have, it doesn’t matter if you try to show them that you’re different and non-competitive and just looking for camaraderie: they will protect their hearts from being hurt, by remaining tough-minded, hard-hearted, and always ready to outdo others.
You can always do the opposite or try to moderate between the two extremes. You can read all the business management books in the Collins Business Essentials series if you’d like. Then you would be following the philosophy of success as the world defines it: being competitive, macho, and upwardly mobile by attempting to climb into management positions within a large corporation. I mean, you can always try to do that. Just be ready to cuss a lot, flirt a lot, and lose your soul. Oh, and be ready to bully a lot of people. Nobody is stopping you from that but your own decision. All those business books boil down to, for example, like Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, is behaving like Alexander the Great, conquering people with tactfulness, and encouraging a culture of business managers that debate with each other, about what would be the best actions for the company to take, in this situation or that one. You essentially take the debate culture that exists within politics and congress and you bring that into the executive suite, with the CEO and his VPs. Dude, if that’s how most people understand leadership: through bickering and intimidation: then count me out! I’ll work at home, thanks.
If you want to be a manager in Corporate America, then you have to be a jerk, a big tough man, a bossy, evil poopy head as kids say. It’ll change you. I mean, this is what people expect right, so why act any differently? You can look at people like this and think, Will they ever apologize for anything? That guy’s just a piece of dirt; a worthless dirt-clod. “He’s really a nice guy once you get to know him.” Why do people say that? One time I saw a card that said, “‘He’s really a nice guy once you get to know him,’ means he’s an a—-le and eventually you will get used to it.” Jesus is going to punish these evil, mean-spirited people so hard one day, so let’s content ourselves with that (Rom. 12:19). Instead let’s focus on our own business and our own lives; and keep these doo-doo heads and meanie heads far away from us! They’re crampin’ our style! God will most likely throw most, if not all, of these lumps of human waste into the burning garbage dump of Hell! (Jer. 19:2, 5; Matt. 5:22). Unlike them though, we should actually be nice to people, generally speaking, so that nobody needs to make excuses for our behavior like that. So pathetic!
But do you want that? Does that sound like “success” to you? Because that’s what Corporate America is like. I’ve never worked for a Fortune 500 company and probably never will. (Except for the times when I was a security guard for EMC Corporation and Global Payments.) There was a short phase I went through where I thought being a sales manager, senior programmer, or an IT manager for such companies would be the key to financial security for my family. Maybe if I moved to Silicon Valley. But now I know better. I work at home now and I’m content with cold calling for small software companies. I always serve two at a time and get twice the pay that I would if working in person. Sooner or later, I plan to move into Google Ads, PPC, and other SEO marketing techniques, but all in good time. Like me, you could just remain content to be a simple hard-working man that wants to provide for his family. You can acquire valuable money-making job skills through a diligent application of hard work alone, and with faith: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Col. 3:23). Away with evil thoughts about job competition and climbing corporate ladders! They’re nothing but the temptations of the world and the devil. Trust in God!
The Rich Man Who Went to Hell:
A Sensualist Who Ignored the Poor
While reading this book, have you thought about the rich man who goes to Hell in Luke 16? Are you wondering why he did? Let’s take a close look at him:
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores (vv. 19-21).
Immediately after reading this, we are told that Lazarus died and went to Heaven; and then the rich man died and went to Hell: and as he was burning in the flames of damnation, he could see Lazarus far away standing with Abraham. Then he cried out to Abraham for pity; and asked him to send Lazarus over to the fire pit in which he was burning, just so that he could give him a few drops of water (vv. 22-24). Abraham explained that Lazarus suffered in his life, so now he will live in the comforts of Heaven; but the rich man had things go easily in his life, and so now he will suffer in Hell (v. 25). If this wasn’t enough of a request, the rich man throws yet another request to Abraham: that he would send Lazarus back to earth and rise from the dead; and that he would warn the rich man’s five brothers about the reality of Hell. Then Abraham says no, because they need to put their faith in the Bible first. Even if they witnessed a miracle like a resurrection or a ghostly visitation from Lazarus, they would find some way of explaining it away naturally, since they don’t already trust in the Bible (vv. 29-31).
Close examination will show why the rich man ended up in Hell and why Lazarus went to Heaven.
1. It wasn’t simply because he had more money than Lazarus did. Many people seem to overlook this. There’s a lot more going on in this passage. 2. The rich man bought luxury items instead of using that surplus for a benevolence fund to help extremely poor people like Lazarus. Even when constantly confronted with Lazarus’ hunger, sickness, and homelessness, he refused to give anything to help him out. He didn’t give him any job guidance either. This rich man had no compassion for the poor. 3. Even while being lashed by the flames of eternal punishment, the rich man still had the attitude of a snob, the prideful ego of a nobleman, so that he was still trying to exert authority over the poor, such as Lazarus was. Being a man who was probably in the upper class, he was likely in the habit of ordering his servants around. His requests to Abraham, are by extension, attempts at giving orders to Lazarus, who used to be a poor man without any power. But now the tables have turned; and the rich man doesn’t realize that the pecking order isn’t the same in eternity. Lazarus is now in a place of authority beside Abraham, but the rich man has lost all his authority over others: all those who were beneath his rank and status. This is like how Judah in the film Ben-Hur, after being wronged by Messala, was given power from God after a while to regain his lost wealth, and finally defeat his enemy.
4. The upper class are skilled at avoiding suffering. They have so much money, that they can insulate themselves from the cares and concerns of ordinary people. The rich man’s sensuality, hedonism, and Epicureanism were contributing factors to his damnation. He was a self-serving, selfish, egocentric man. He likely laughed at others who didn’t have his advantages; and kept himself in a constant state of luxurious enjoyment. Meanwhile, he saw homeless Lazarus with festering sores; and starving every day outside his gate. 5. Lastly, he was an atheist or unbeliever of some type. Whatever his religious orientation was, we can be sure that the rich man was not a Puritan or fundamentalist. He did not believe in the reality of Hell while he was living; and he had no faith in the Bible. This is why he asked for Lazarus to go up and warn his five brothers (vv. 27-28), because they too didn’t put their faith in the Bible, and refused to believe in the existence of Hell as a reality or article of faith. In summary, the rich man went to Hell, because he didn’t give to the poor, didn’t care about the poor, was an arrogant snob who bossed the poor around, was a sensual hedonist, and a Bible skeptic who rejected the paranormal and especially rejected the existence of Hell. Liberals and atheists! Watch out!
If you think that my take on Luke 16:19-31 is simply a matter of my own private interpretation, then consider that Matthew Henry has practically said the same thing. According to him, the ultimate sin of this rich man was “uncharitableness,” or lacking a sense of charity and compassion for the poor and godly yet homeless Lazarus, which laid down in front of the gate of his house every day. Because the rich man wore purple, which was the color that princes wore, Henry thought that Jesus might have been referring to king Herod. He served as an example of “rich Epicures, who live in luxury, and are unmerciful to the poor,” who give into “a fatal temptation to luxury, and sensuality, and forgetfulness of God and another world…forgetting the distresses of the poor and afflicted…providing only for himself…he slighted him; he had no concern for him, took no care about him…a little thing would be a great kindness to him, and yet he took no cognizance of his case…but let him lie there.”
And as such “the rich glutton…was hard-hearted to God’s poor, and therefore he is not only cut off from mercy, but he has judgment without mercy,” and now in Hell he looked into Heaven and could see “that same Lazarus whom he had looked upon with so much scorn and contempt, as not worthy of his notice…his own cruel and barbarous conduct towards him,” being an example of “those that now hate and despise the people of God,” and who tend to be rich in this world, and will be in the next world, like the rich man, who remembered “how he had behaved towards Lazarus, when he was reveling in his good things and Lazarus groaning under his evil things; he cannot forget that then he would not help Lazarus,” and eventually came to view the reason for his position in Hell by thinking, “I brought myself to it by my luxury and sensuality, and my unmercifulness to the poor,” and his finally classified by Henry to be one of “the unbelieving Jews” who rejected Christ.
In summary of Matthew Henry’s commentary on this awesome passage, the sins that pulled this rich man down to Hell were: 1. It was not being rich that was the problem, because Lazarus came to be at Abraham’s side in Heaven; and Abraham was also a rich man, but he had sacrificed himself for the welfare of others in the book of Genesis. 2. By contrast, the sins of the Herodian rich man in Luke 16 were uncharitableness, luxury-loving sensuality, being unmerciful to the poor, forgetting about God and the spirit world, forgetting about the distress of the poor, turning a blind eye to them, ignoring the poor, and shunning them, leaving them in a state of misery when they could do something to relieve them, gluttony, hard-heartedness to the poor like Scrooge, looking upon God’s poor with scorn, contempt, cruelty, hostility, persecution, and hate, and considering them as not worthy of notice. Lastly, unbelief. So many vices would not be allowed to grow in the heart of a true believer. All of this, points back to the warnings that Moses gave in Deuteronomy 8:10-18, against forgetting about God as you grow richer.
Associating With the Lowly by a Modest Lifestyle
Christians should try their best to be hard working, frugal at budgeting, and save money for emergencies, and try to increase their incomes, so they can put their kids through good colleges, and prepare for their retirement years by maxing out their IRAs every year, because the time will come when we will be too old to work with much vigor, and ageism might prevent companies from hiring us instead of younger folks with more stamina. If you go literally by the Bible, it would be acceptable to retire at 50 years old. Numbers 8:25: “At the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer.” But if we succeed at increasing our riches, then we shouldn’t set our hearts upon them, or be proud to display them, and should remember that the Bible commands us to “associate with the lowly,” in other words, to be friends with poor people (Ps. 62:10; Rom. 12:16). The number one cause of financial egoism among the rich seems to be when they make the decision to turn their backs on the poor; and buy expensive things which drastically widen the gap between them and those who cannot afford such things. After considering this, it shouldn’t be too hard to see why God burns with anger at rich snobs like this (Luke 16:25).
They could even be turning their backs on their own brothers and sisters, for no other reason than they are poorer than them, and now they somehow can’t relate to them: seeing that these snobs have now invited conspicuous consumption, materialism, and economic competition into their lifestyles. But don’t be that way! Instead you should befriend the poor, and live a modest enough lifestyle to remain approachable by them, and the time will come when you will be in the right place at the right time, to give to the poor out of your benevolence fund. But the reverse would be true for hypocrites: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need, but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17). Such is the way of many mainline liberals, secular capitalists, and all non-Bible believers: those who have not had the new birth of experience in the Holy Spirit. They’re blind to the spirit world and God’s ethical requirements for life.
They could decide to be poor in spirit, and live a financially modest lifestyle, and nobody would know that they are rich. In this case, they would have control over their money; and their money would not have control over them. Such people are financially rich, but they serve God, and not mammon in their spending and socializing. Although they now possess a large sum of money in their holdings, God and his people are still more important to them than living a conspicuously rich lifestyle. Their outwardly poor and modest lifestyles would not get in the way of “associating with the lowly;” it would not become a stumbling block for guests to “ooo” and “ahhh” at their posh house and cars, which are so much nicer than theirs. This would not make you worry if guests might steal things from you, because you would be outwardly living the same way that they do: a similar house, car, clothes, restaurants, vacations, recreations, etc. Nothing at all to make a distinction between you and them. Nothing to give away the secret that you are actually rich. That’s between you and God.
If anything, the Bible supports “keeping up with the Joneses,” in only one way: that is, the Jones family that lives on about $30k to $40k a year. Don’t cut them off by purchasing unattainable earthly possessions, living a rich lifestyle, or trying to follow the rules of Lisa Birnbach’s Preppy Handbook and Marissa Piesman’s Yuppie Handbook. You might have a million dollars or more in net worth, but they don’t need to know about that. Focus on keeping up with the poor Jones families, so that you can still associate with them and not isolate yourself from them, and instead insulate yourself in some godless, boring country club filled with arrogant tennis, golf, soccer, and polo players. Observe the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers that was stirred up after he was given the coat of many colors (Gen. 37:3-4): that was a nice coat, unlike any of them had. It was like an Abercrombie & Fitch coat. It was designer clothing. Yeah, to teach him a lesson, they threw him into a well after he wore that coat around (vv. 23-24). Choosing to keep and enjoy really nice things that other people don’t have, will not improve your social life with those poorer people: it will only harm it. It creates the haves and the have-nots, the winners, and the losers: social and economic inequality and separation.
Suppose you have $250k, $500k, or even $1 million to spare. This is not retirement money. My friend, you are just a really rich guy. Maybe you’ve been successful at stock investing and you have a good chunk of cash to spare. God would not have you to use that money in a way that would encourage economic discrimination between you and others of a lower economic bracket: be they family, friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, or Bible study people from your church. That is how snobs are created. God would want your external economic life to reflect the lower class or the lower middle class, like Jesus and the apostles lived, so you can still “associate with the lowly,” and be “poor in spirit,” and “pretend to be poor, yet have great wealth” (Rom. 12:16; Matt. 5:3; Prov. 13:7). This might sound like a beatnik or a hippie thing to do, but I can’t get past the Jesus in the Gospel of Luke almost completely agreeing with such a view.
You might say to yourself, “Yes, but crime happens more often in the poorer neighborhoods, so that is why I choose to live in an all-white rich suburb.” That might sound like a wise choice on the surface. But go to spotcrime.com and reconsider your view after looking at the crime maps. Think about this for a moment: have you ever seen Home Alone? Which neighborhoods do you think criminals are casing around Christmas? It’s mainly going to be the rich ones! The same could be said of countless examples on Unsolved Mysteries episodes. Usually it’s the rich white suburbs that are targeted for break-ins and burglaries. That’s where “thieves break in and steal” the most often (Matt. 6:19). It’s at those conspicuous, out in the open, rich-looking houses. Christian financial growth doesn’t mean you should stop living a modest financial lifestyle. It just means you have more money in the bank to use for different things. But from a lifestyle point of view, a poor person should be able to look at a rich Christian, and think that he’s in the lower class just like him. His wealth should always remain a secret.
Think like Phillip Drummond from Diff’rent Strokes, who was lauded by the show’s theme song as a “man of means.” His poor black housekeeper died; and then he adopted her two sons as his own. That’s the spirit of what I’m talking about here. “Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout Willis?” But there’s only one detail that I’d change about Mr. Drummond: his penthouse—it was way too affluent. He also had a limo. If those outward things could have been changed: the display of his wealth in lieu of his house, car, and clothes, while at the same time retaining his money, and “associating with the lowly,” that my friend, would be the image of a Biblical Christian with physical wealth at his disposal.
I say, try to live in a poorer area, perhaps a rural one, which is out of sight and out of mind, and in which you can still live modestly and so decrease the risk of thieves casing your house for a future break-in. There is no hard and fast rule in the Bible that says you need to live in a neighborhood. In fact, having “your own vine and your own fig tree,” “filling the earth and subduing it,” and “tending the garden,” all sound like God means for people to live in the country in a modest house, where there are almost no home invasions, robberies, or violent crimes being committed (Mic. 4:4; Gen. 1:28; 2:15). It would be unnatural to think of things like this happening on The Andy Griffith Show, because Mayberry is a small country town. Crimes like that mostly happen in the big city, where different kinds of gangs congregate themselves, and not in the country.
It is no wonder to me that Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, is always running into his strongest temptations around places like the City of Destruction, and the towns of Carnal Policy and Vanity Fair. Cities like Sodom, Gomorrah, Las Vegas, Reno, Gotham (New York), and San Francisco. All cities it seems are sin cities. This might explain why it seems there are more God-fearing people that live in the country. That is simply assumed in American culture. The Desert Fathers and the Amish, it seems, at least got that part right: it seems to be easier to practice godliness and maintain the fear of God, and regard the paranormal, if you live in the country, where there are less temptations and worldly distractions drawing people’s minds to the things of this earth.
Financial growth can begin with something as innocent as wanting to provide for your family and put your kids through college. You want to provide financial security for your wife and kids. Then as time goes on, especially when the man of the house comes into contact with banking and financial consulting services, and bonds and stocks, providing can turn into materialism, conspicuous consumption, forgetting about God’s direct involvement in your life, and even isolating yourself from all poor people. Whatever you personally decide about your housing and automotive purchases, the clothes that you wear, and other purchases that you will make over the course of your financial life, just remember that God still wants you to “associate with the lowly” (Rom. 12:16). Our life goal shouldn’t be to become a rich competitive jerk, who succeeds at attaining posh houses, posh cars, maxed out 401(k)s, and several millions in stocks and bonds, while at the same time being a total weakling at faith in the Bible; not knowing the Holy Spirit as a real person; character traits filled with deception, hostility, one-upmanship, and cruelty; a failure as a husband, father, brother, and friend; and a soulless agnostic, who fears death more as his years approach the finish line.
Biblical economics boils down to the attitudes that we have about money. A man can know all kinds of things about personal finance, budgeting, investing, education, career development, business management, credit scores, income and property and capital gains taxes, and retirement planning. But if that same man has the wrong attitudes about money: bribery, pride, covetousness, dishonesty, favoritism, injustice, fear, worry, panic, and litigiousness—then “all is vanity!” (Eccl. 12:8). We shouldn’t be like the man who acquires his riches and then holds his head up so high, that he feels he has to turn his back on the poor, and scoff at them for their financial ignorance and sloth. You proud man! Self-elevating and conceited about your financial achievements! Like the king of Babylon, God will call you to account! Mark 8:36: “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” No profit at all! Overall, no profit when its looked at from every angle.
 Marilyn Manson. 1996. “The Beautiful People.” Track 2 on Antichrist Superstar. Interscope Records, compact disc; Kurt Reighley, Marilyn Manson (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press), ch. 1. The school’s overemphasis on the end times, and the Antichrist, are really what turned him away from Christianity: it filled him with anxiety as a boy. Not to mention just the meanness of the people there. I’ve heard that Christian schools are sometimes worse than public schools. Another reason that I support homeschooling with Abeka material and Facebook groups. My wife once taught at an independent fundamental Baptist school for a year; and was constantly mistreated by an older teacher, and horribly disrespected by the high school students. After this, I forbade her from teaching at that school again. I directed her to do Abeka video lessons from there on out. Three other teacher friends seemed to follow her lead.
 Wikipedia. 2023. “Christian Attitudes Towards Freemasonry.” Last modified January 3, 2023. Both the Catholic Church, and the most conservative Bible-centered Protestant denominations, have condemned the Masonic Lodge as the primary secular force in Europe and America, for its deistic “separation of church and state,” and business. The primary reason why political and economic secularism, and anti-Christian attitudes, continue to prevail within Corporate America and the White House. It might be possible that The Devil and Daniel Webster was an anti-Masonic film. Webster once ran as a politician for the Anti-Masonic Party. The combination of anti-supernaturalism and occultic mysticism within the Masonic Lodge is a confusing one. In this way, it might be like LaVey’s Church of Satan, which is an atheistic witchcraft cult, and seeks to serve Self as Satan. The Anti-Masonics were conservative politicians who believed that freemasons, had in effect, sold their souls to the devil for prosperity. I believe the devil in that movie symbolizes the Masonic Lodge.
 Jared Yates Sexton, The Man They Wanted Me to Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2019.
 The Gentleman. “20 Things That Make a Man a Gentleman,” thegentlemansjournal.com, Gentleman’s Journal, 2021.
 Other than what Gouge has written about marriage, I can also recommend ch. 3, “Marriage and Sex,” in Leland Ryken’s Worldly Saints, and Joseph Dillow’s Solomon on Sex, which is an evangelical study of the Song of Solomon, and provides a Biblical alternative to the weird and urologically unsafe positions of the Kama Sutra. The Puritans had a romantic view of marriage and viewed sex as a marital duty (1 Cor. 7:1-5), but they viewed sexuality as a private matter, and shunned all public displays of affection (PDA).
 I believe that Jesus would support Christian husbands and fathers to own firearms to protect their families (see Luke 22:36; Exod. 22:2-3). I’ve spoken to a number of gun experts, including police officers, and done some reading about home defense, and it seems that if only one gun were to be purchased, the ideal home defense weapon would be a 12 gauge pump-action shotgun that holds eight shells. The shells should contain birdshot: not slugs and not buckshot. The reason for this is to avoid the accidental collateral damage, that could come from a heavy slug, or buckshot balls passing through walls and hitting family members or neighbors. Birdshot from a shotgun is powerful enough to kill if aimed at the chest of an intruder, because it sprays into the heart and the vital organs with great force. But it is a short-range shell, which makes it ideal in the event of a home invasion. The “castle doctrine” says that it is legal to shoot an intruder if he enters your house. However, you are not allowed to shoot a criminal if he is only outside of your house.
Gun obsessions can be dangerous things. Academy Sports and Walmart are good for buying shotguns, but I wouldn’t turn guns into a hobby or anything. There are more important things in life than guns. Take the gun a few times to the shooting range to make sure that it works; and to make sure you know how to use it. Beyond that, I’d advise against going gung-ho about guns: especially since they can get very expensive. The Mossberg 88 Security Special Purpose is affordable: currently priced around $300 and holds eight shells. The Remington 870 Wingmaster is what many police officers have used, but it only holds four shells, and costs about $500. I avoided purchasing a gun until my second daughter was five years old, because I was afraid of statistics that said there is a higher risk that your child will hurt themselves by playing with your gun, than there is of a home invasion ever happening. But the time eventually came when I had some knocks on my window in the middle of night, called the police, and saw a suspicious man slowly walking in the street outside my house in the dark.
One police officer, who was not a father, suggested to me that I should keep several loaded Glock 9mms within reach at all times, positioned at different places in the house, because home invasions statistically can happen in a matter of seconds. Personally, I think that is unwise with children around, which means most of the time for family men. If it’s not your own kids, then it will eventually be your grandkids, or somebody else’s kids. I say, keep most if not all guns locked up in a gun security cabinet with a combination lock that only you know. That would be the best. If you don’t have one, then at least get a small safe to put your shells or bullets in. I don’t really like the idea of handguns, because the rounds can pass through walls, kids can operate them easier, and it usually takes an entire clip of bullets to drop a man. Handguns don’t work like they do in the Clint Eastwood movies: dropping a man with only one shot. It usually takes more like 10 to 15 shots from a Glock 9mm to drop a man. I’d stick with a 12 gauge pump-action shotgun, with eight birdshot shells, as your main weapon of choice for home defense. A fully armed house would mean two shotguns: one for the husband and one for the wife. The Covenanters of Scotland, and the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony, would have gladly seen this as big upgrade from their flintlock muskets.
 One of the best films that I’ve seen which illustrates these dynamics is It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947), in which Victor Moore says, “A house, any house, is only what its occupants make it.”
 Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Christian Theology (Salem, OH: H. E. Schmul, 1967), p. 217.
 Wikipedia. 2023. “Duel.” Last modified January 1, 2023.
 Bernard Bailyn, op. cit., pp. 114-115, 168-170. The Puritan government of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was viewed as a bunch of “fanatical nonconformists” by liberal Anglican men of business. Eventually an Anglican governor from New Hampshire, named Edward Cranfield, succeeded at stamping out their influence in 1691. He represented the majority opinion; Barna Group, “Do Americans Support Christian Businesses and Brands?” barna.com, 2011.
 Bernard Bailyn, op. cit., p. 24.
 Chris Hogan, op. cit., pp. 51, 84, 172, 200-201, 212, 221, 231.
 A. W. Tozer, The Price of Neglect (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1991), pp. 102-103.
 Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, vol. 5 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), pp. 610-616.
 The only drawback about living in the country, is that often the telecommunications services are low quality. Usually satellite dishes with spotty connections are offered as the internet service. Broadband, or a reliable cable internet connection, is often hard to come by. I’d say, before you move to a country cottage, call the different cable companies in that area, and see if at least two or three different cable internet providers exist and compete there. It can be a bad situation if you only have one cable internet provider that doesn’t care about its flaky connections, because it has a telecom monopoly in that rural area. In a worst case scenario, you can find the address for your state’s public services commission on the FCC website; and the write them about inviting other cable companies to do business in that area.