We have made the point that a culture shaped by the Bible creates massive amounts of human capital by promoting character. This human capital in turn engenders success. In the previous post I made the point that American until the sixties had a culture shaped largely by Christianity. Therefore, it makes sense to attribute American success to the human capital promoted by its Christian culture.
To support this conclusion let’s think about just the economic success that a society would enjoy if it were entirely shaped by a Christian culture. I realize that this will not happen this side of heaven, but give us a glimpse of the potential influence, please walk down this road with me for a few minutes.
Perhaps the economic benefits of Christianity are most graphically portrayed by calculating the price of sin.
Think about the cost of crime: the damage done by the criminal himself—harm to human beings, the cost of what was stolen or otherwise damaged, property burned by the arsonist, and so forth; the cost of crime prevention such as a police force, security personnel, and alarm systems; the massive cost of incarceration, the price tag for our judicial system that includes judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, probation officers, and a vast network of other personnel, buildings, and equipment; and the impact on insurance premiums. A society without crime would save untold billions of dollars every year.
Imagine a society without drug and alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, overeating, and other habits that a Christian culture would discourage. This would drastically reduce the burden on our healthcare system and the cost for therapy to overcome these habits. Imagine the savings related to automobile accidents, lost work, fires started accidentally by smoking, and other subsidiary expenses resulting from these habits.
We are told that pornography is a multibillion dollar business. Christianity would salvage that money for better uses.
Studies also reveal the tremendous cost of divorce. Not only do we have the financial drain of the legal process, but we also have huge ancillary expenses. Someone moves out and gets an apartment. Now they are paying for two dwellings instead of one. And there are many other such hidden and not so hidden financial burdens.
Think also about the psychological damage resulting from all of the above—to victims of crime, to those enslaved by various habits, to users of pornography and their wives, to those going through divorce and their children. Though we care about the emotional anguish, our focus here is on the economic price tag. There is the cost of therapy, of medications, of lost work, of lowered productivity, of doctors and institutions needed to treat pathologies, and beyond. These psychological problems also beget physical problems, resulting in added financial burden.
Think about the cost of what might be considered less grievous sins such as laziness. Eliminate that turpitude and people would be far better educated, more productive at work, and take better care of their homes and families. Likewise, discipline in personal lives, in the classroom, and elsewhere would promote savings. Then there is the more hidden cost of bad attitudes and selfishness that disrupt relationships at home and at work. Even if these expressions of ungodliness would not result in divorce or dismissal, they nonetheless create stress, distraction, and other negative byproducts that ultimately take an economic toll.
Try to calculate the cost of abortion. This includes the charge for the procedure itself and the physical and psychological toll that it takes on the mother (the latest studies show an even stronger link between abortion and breast cancer). However, an even greater economic drain results from the loss of the productivity of those who have been murdered. Who can estimate the potential contribution to our society that would have been made by the more than 52 million human beings who have been lost to abortion?
Imagine if there were no corruption in government. I believe it is safe to estimate that our government could be cut at least in half and actually function more effectively if politicians exercised Christian character. In addition, elimination of errant legislation passed to please lobbyists would also save billions. Beyond that, the resulting lowering of taxes would create an economic boom.
Total up the cost of sin described above and imagine the savings if people lived biblically.
And on the positive side of the ledger, imagine the increased productivity resulting from people displaying the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, graciousness, godliness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. This would foster a society where people would be wholehearted and joyful, encouraging those around them, enjoying maximum productivity in their own lives and engendering it in others. Imagine a society where all of the wasted potential described above would instead be employed productively.
We see then that if a society were populated by people displaying the character of Jesus Christ, its vast store of human capital produce a plethora of prosperity.
Of course, no society of that nature has ever existed or could exist except in heaven. However, a Christian culture encourages a society in this direction. Consequently, even marginal movement in that direction significantly contributes to success.
This in fact is what Christianity did for the United States prior to the 1960s. Various books have been written that support that assertion. David Barton’s wrote, America: To Pray or Not to Pray; A statistical look at what happened when religious principles were separated from public affairs. This book includes numerous charts that graphically (literally) demonstrate the strength of America’s human capital when shaped by a Christian culture and the loss of human capital and financial capital when we entered a post-Christian era. William Bennett authored The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators: Facts and Figures on the State of American Society, which provides many statistics that make the same case. American greatness was a product of its Christian culture.