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Are We Guilty of the Sin of Sodom?

You might be surprised to find out what it was.


Not long ago, a friend asked me if I knew what the sin of Sodom was. "Yeah," I said, "I think" (I knew he was setting me up, so I hedged a bit). "The answer is in Ezekiel 16:49," he said. I wasn't familiar with the passage so I looked it up, and there was my surprise answer: "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."

Our Christian brothers and sisters … are asking for our help.

Arrogant. Overfed. Unconcerned. They did not help the poor and needy!

On behalf of many of us, I'll take that as a rebuke.

There is a response to this verse; one I believe not too many have heard: Micah 6:8. But, I will get to that in a moment. First …

A recent poll said the environment is the second most important issue to Canadians (the first is healthcare). Here's the rub. Asked if they would pay more for gas so that people would drive less, 69 percent opposed the measure. "Fix the environment!" is the war cry, "If it's convenient."

I watch the polls. I talk to my friends in political circles. They seem to agree: Canadians are mostly concerned about the environment and climate change, healthcare, the war in Afghanistan, justice issues and tough-on-crime measures.

But there doesn't seem to be a lot of clamouring for increased aid for overseas development.

More than one billion people in the world today live on less than one dollar a day. A dollar doesn't buy a Tim Horton's coffee in Canada. Add one more billion. These live on two dollars a day. Six million children under the age of five die each year as a result of starvation. Half of those children live in Africa.

The Canadian government committed to the international community in 1970 to work toward funding relief and development overseas with a minimum of 0.7 percent of our GDP—less than one percent. It's 37 years since then, and Canada is giving less than half that amount—about 0.33 percent.

During the Millennium Summit held in New York in September 2000, all 189 UN Member States adopted the Millennium Declaration, which contained a group of goals and targets that have since become known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals, working together, aim to cut world poverty in half by 2015.

The Goals include measurable, time-bound targets addressing poverty and hunger, education, maternal and child health, the prevalence of diseases including HIV/AIDs, gender equality, the environment, debt, trade justice and aid.

Canada signed this declaration. Canada made the commitment and promise to the world community. So far promises made are not promises kept. What will it take to get action, instead of just words?

Our Christian brothers and sisters from these poorer countries are asking for our help. They have heard our government's promises and they are waiting for action. Living on a dollar or two a day makes the wait long—too long for many. So they look to us, Christians in North America and other Western countries,for our help to share their message—to communicate their need. They have sounded the Micah Call, "He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

Earlier, I mentioned the environment. Everyone wants environmental problems fixed, but no one really wants to pay for it to happen.

Same thing for the poor of this world. To solve this problem requires each of us to hear the Micah Call and do our part. One way to heed the call is to challenge the Canadian government to live up to its commitment. Write your Member of Parliament to let them know you want Canada to make food and hunger a high priority in its foreign aid spending and agricultural trade negotiations. It also requires getting involved ourselves—acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God.

The Micah Challenge requires us to address these two issues head on. It encourages us to deepen Evangelical Christian commitment through an engagement with the "nuts and bolts" of ending extreme poverty as a starting point, including advocacy to require our government to meet commitments made to the Millennium Development Goals.

Sodom's sin? Arrogant. Overfed. Unconcerned. They did not help the poor and needy.

The Micah Challenge? Justice. Mercy. Humility. Finding ways to help the poor and needy.

Douglas Cryer is the director of public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

 

 
 
 
 

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