CDPCKL · The Book of the Covenant, Chapter 4: Property Rights (Exodus 21:28-22:17)

The Book of the Covenant, Chapter 4: Property Rights (Exodus 21:28-22:17)

All right: we are now deep into a section of Exodus that is known as The Book of the Covenant. 

During this section, the people of Israel are waiting at the foot of Mount Sinai, looking up to to the mountaintop where all they can see is a thick darkness: black storm-clouds with a glow like fire flickering within. And the reason they are looking up like that is because their leader Moses is up there, in the darkness, listening to God dictate The Book of the Covenant to him, which Moses will later write down and then read to the people. 

And the point of this Book of the Covenant is to explain what the 10 Commandments should look like in the everyday life of God’s people. 

So, for instance, commandments one and two set up guardrails around the concept of worship, so the first section of The Book of the Covenant began to describe what true worship looks like. The fourth commandment talked about work and rest, so the second section of The Book of the Covenant was all about workers’ rights. The sixth commandment introduced the idea that all human life is valuable, and so the third section of The Book of the Covenant was all about personal human rights. 

And it was in that third section, last week, that God introduced a very clear guiding principle to his people. “Whatever happens,” God said, “when you are trying to figure out what justice looks like, remember this: you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” 

Basically, God is saying that the punishment must fit the crime. 

We also learned that the principle of eye for eye, tooth for tooth is not meant to be taken literally. Ancient Israelite judges did not spend their time poking out eyes or knocking out teeth. The basic idea is that permanent injury should have some kind of permanent consequence; temporary injury some kind of temporary consequence. 

Sounds fair, yeah? 

So now, today, we are moving into the fourth section of God’s Book of the Covenant. And what we see right away is a shift in subject from personal rights to property rights: 

[28] “If a bull — someone’s property — gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. 

Okay. To understand this properly, first we have to understand that in those days a bull was the equivalent of a farm tractor or a lorry: it was a form of extremely valuable large industrial equipment. And sometimes industrial equipment malfunctions. And when large equipment malfunctions, innocent people can get killed. 

So the idea here is that sometimes accidents happen, and no one is at fault. When that is the case, the judges must abide by these three guidelines: first, the malfunctioning equipment must be safely taken out of commission. Second, no one is to gain any benefit or profit from the accident — that would send the wrong message. Third, the owner of the equipment is to be judged innocent of murder. 

[29] If, however, the equipment has a history of malfunctioning, so that people have been hurt or almost killed in the past, and the owner has been warned but has not taken proper precautions, and it kills an innocent bystander, then judicial points one and two above still apply and its owner also is to be put to death. 

Because that is what we would call negligent homicide: killing someone through carelessness. 

[30] However, if the family of the innocent bystander would rather be compensated financially for the loss of their family member, then the owner may redeem his life by the payment of whatever is demanded. 

[31] This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter. 

Meaning that the same penalties apply if a child is killed instead of an adult. 

Now, that seems obvious to us today, but in the laws of other nations at that time, killing a child was not as bad as killing an adult — depending on who you were. If a poor man accidentally killed a rich man’s kid…the poor man paid with his life. But if a rich man killed a poor man’s kid…he might have to pay a small fine. 

God is correcting that injustice here. In God’s nation, children are just as valuable as adults, no matter what social class they come from. God’s law is all about equality. 

However, [32] if the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death. 

And now we have questions, because this does not look like equality, does it! This looks like slaves — servants, seven-year contract employees, like we talked about two weeks ago — are actually less valuable than children or landowning adults. But over the last couple of weeks God has been making it very clear that even employees are human beings, equally as valuable as everyone else. 

Has God just contradicted himself? 

No. Remember, we are talking about industrial farm equipment. Contract employees would be expected to spend a lot of time working with this equipment, so they would have a much higher chance of getting caught in an industrial accident — just one of the hazards of the job, we could say. 

So the reason for the change here is because this last situation is different from the situation our text opened with. In that first situation, if someone on a sidewalk somewhere is accidentally run over by a passing tractor, then the owner of the tractor does not pay any penalties. Sometimes accidents happen, and no one is at fault. 

But if someone is at work and they get killed by a tractor, then this law here, covering workers’ compensation, applies: the owner of the malfunctioning equipment does have to compensate the dead employee’s boss by paying off the rest of the dead employee’s contract, thus making sure the dead employee’s family is properly cared for. 

And that sounds fair, doesn’t it? 

So what we are seeing so far is that the principle God introduced last week does not just apply to questions of murder or physical violence, it also applies to accidents: the punishment must fit the crime, the compensation must fit the loss. God really cares about equality and fairness. 

And the next few scenarios continue this theme of fair compensation in situations where people and property can be damaged by accident or through carelessness. We are not going to look at all of them in detail because the principles are pretty clear even now, well over 3000 years later. 

However, as we move into Exodus, Chapter 22, we do find a slight change of direction. God is still talking about property rights and responsibilities. But where before he was addressing questions of physical harm through accidents or negligence, now he begins to address financial harm through stealing: 

[1] “Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.” 

But now: this looks like another contradiction, doesn’t it! Previously God said compensation should be life for life, or animal for animal: a one-for-one exchange. So why now is the penalty for stealing five-for-one or four-for-one? 

That does not seem fair. 

And if we scan ahead a bit, it seems to get even more unfair in verse 3: 

Anyone who steals must certainly make restitution, but if they have nothing, they must be sold to pay for their theft. But [4] if the stolen animal is found alive in their possession—whether ox or donkey or sheep—then they only have to pay back double.” 

What is going on? Five-for-one or four-for-one — or even two-for-one — is not equal, it is not one-for-one. If someone steals just one ox, wouldn’t justice demand that they pay back just one ox? 

Well, if an ox was just an ox, like a pet or something, then…perhaps. But remember, an ox — a bull — was a money-making machine. Stealing an ox was the equivalent of stealing a family’s ability to support itself. So paying back five-for-one was a way to compensate the owner for all the work he was unable to do while his tractor was missing. 

It’s the same way with sheep. Sheep are not as valuable as oxen, they are smaller — but they are still a source of income and investment, so a compensation of four-for-one is fair in that case. 

But if the missing animal is recovered before it can be sold, then the penalty should be just two-for-one, probably because the recovery time would be faster, thus costing the owner less and requiring less compensation. 

What God’s law is establishing here is the principle that financial damage — unlike physical damage — is not always just one-for-one. 

To put this in modern terms: $1000 is not just $1000, it also contains the potential to be invested and become $1500. If you steal $1000 from me, you are not just stealing $1000, you are also stealing my ability to invest that money. 

So under God’s law, a thief ought to pay back not just the principle but also the interest that was lost. 

And if the thief cannot afford to pay it back, then — according to verse 3 — he must be sold. 

But please understand: this does not mean sold into eternal sub-human slavery! 

Actually, this penalty is another way of preserving the thief’s dignity as a human being. In our modern system, we send thieves to prison, where they do become a worthless, sub-human financial drain on society. In God’s system, however, a thief becomes a contracted employee to someone who can afford to hire him. That way the thief retains the dignity of gainful employment, he receives food, clothing, and shelter from his new boss, while the family he robbed gets his salary until his debt is all paid off. 

And that also sounds fair, doesn’t it! 

So once again, what we are seeing here is that God really cares about equality and fairness and human dignity. He wants children to be seen as human beings with protected human rights; he also wants thieves to be seen as human beings with protected human rights — even if they are caught in the heat of the moment. That is why, in verse 2, God says: 

If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; [3] but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.” 

Sometimes accidents happen — especially at night, especially when a homeowner is startled from sleep and has to defend his home in the pitch dark — and in that case the homeowner is not responsible for using deadly force. 

But in daylight, when the whole neighborhood is awake, there are other, non-lethal ways to deal with an intruder. A homeowner may be furious, he may want to kill to defend his home, but in those more controlled circumstances God’s law requires that he treat the thief as a human being with protected human rights. 

And as we read on we find that God continues to draw out the implications of these basic principles. Last week he talked about the penalties for deliberate physical harm. Then today he talked about the penalties for accidental physical harm. He has just finished talking about the penalties for deliberate financial harm, so it makes sense for him to discuss next the penalties for accidental financial harm: what to do in cases of trespassing, or fire, or if something that was borrowed or rented is broken or goes missing — everyday situations like that. 

And, as before, we are not going to go through these case in detail because I think they are pretty commonsense. I’ll just summarise by pointing out that, amidst all the details, we still see the same foundational principles of equality and fairness at work. In every case, God wants his judges to ignore the status of the people involved. Instead, he wants them to focus on why the loss happened — whether it was deliberate, accidental, or through carelessness — and how much financial harm was done. And then he wants them to award fair compensation. 

But now here, right at the end of our text today, we do find one last slight change of direction: 

[16] “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. [17] If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.” 

Now, to many modern readers this seems very random: this whole fourth section of The Book of the Covenant has been about personal property rights, but now God suddenly wants to talk about…sexual ethics? 

But to understand this properly, we first have to understand that in those days a virgin — a daughter — was extremely valuable. Just as $1000 is not just $1000, it also contains the potential for future earnings, so also a daughter is not just a daughter, she also contains the potential for future generations. 

The point is that, in God’s eyes, daughters are just as valuable as sons, women just as valuable as men. 

We can tell because, from the beginning of this passage, God has specified that the same laws apply to a man or woman, to a male or female employee, to a son or daughter. The reason God had to say it explicitly like that is because, in other nations, the death of a woman was just not as important as the death of a man, daughters just not as valuable as sons — an attitude we are very familiar with here in Asia. But God has been saying that children are just as valuable as adults, and daughters are just as valuable as sons, because they are all human beings made in God’s image: they are all God’s children. 

But there are, obviously, some differences between sons and daughters. They are equally valuable, but their value is invested in different directions. In ancient Israel, under normal conditions, the sons would stay back and inherit the family land, so in that way we could say that a son’s value remained with the family. Daughters would marry into another family, so in that way all of a daughter’s current and future value would be lost to her father’s family, passed to her husband’s family. And this is why, in ancient Israel, there was a bride-price for daughters but no dowry for sons. 

So now, with all that background in place, we are ready to understand that when a man seduced another man’s daughter, he was actually stealing one of the most valuable assets that a family had. That is why this little section about sexual rights actually does fit into this larger section about property rights: this is still about financial harm, which always leads to social harm. 

But that still may sound strange to our modern ears. So let me explain how this stealing used to work: in most cultures in that area at that time, a lot of a woman’s value was tied to her virginity. So if a man could not afford a wife, all he had to do was seduce some naive young woman, thus taking most of her value for himself and virtually guaranteeing that no one else would want to marry her. Then he would go to her father and say, “Look, I’ve seduced your daughter. So if you don’t give her to me now as my wife, you will have to support her for the rest of her life — she will be a financial drain on you rather than a financial asset. But out of the kindness of my heart I am willing to relieve you of that burden, I am willing to take her off your hands…” 

Basically, in those days, a man could use sex, shame, and financial pressure to force another man to give away his daughter for free. 

But here God is saying: no. That is not going to happen in my nation. I am not going to allow men to use sex to devalue women; I am not even going to allow women to use sex to devalue themselves. This is the law: if a woman loses her virginity, she still contains all of her actual and potential value, and therefore any man who has seduced her must purchase her value at full price. 

But, at the same time, the father of that daughter does not have to give his daughter to the man who seduced her. 

For instance, if it is obvious that the young man and the young woman have an affection for one another, and that this seduction took place in a moment of mutual temptation and weakness, a father may say to the young man, “Okay, you seem like a good kid. I think you will value my daughter and care for her appropriately. So if you are repentant then I am willing to forgive your sin against my family and we can proceed with the bride price and the marriage.” 

But if the young man refuses to recognise how he has sinned against the young woman and her family, then it does not matter if the daughter is “in love” with the guy: her father — in his wisdom — can say to him, “I do not trust you to value my daughter appropriately. Your seduction followed by your unrepentance reveals to me that you are prideful and selfish, unwilling or unable to put the needs of others ahead of your own. And I am not willing to bind my beloved daughter into captivity to a prideful, selfish man. Therefore, you will pay me the full bride price for my daughter, and then you will never see her again. That way, even if no other man ever offers to marry her, she will still retain her full value and she will live out her life in a family that loves her and appreciates her true worth.” 

Friends, what a wonderful, protective mercy for daughters and for families! In a world where men regularly use seduction to seize power over women, in a world where women regularly use seduction to seize power over men, God says no. These are my people, made in my image. You will not use sex to steal them, degrade them, or force them into unhappy, manipulative, abusive relationships. My children will retain their value throughout their lives. 

This is the word of the Lord! 


So now we have come to the part of the sermon where we like to ask: what does this ancient text have to do with us? How are we supposed to apply all these laws about oxen and sheep and daughters to our lives today? 

In answering this question, we are going to work backwards: we will look at this last topic of sexual rights first — because it is very relevant to our situation today — and then we will broaden our application to cover the central point of this whole section on property rights. 

So: sexual ethics and the value of women. 

In our modern world we are increasingly uncomfortable with verses like these that seem to say that a woman’s value is in some way assigned to her, that this value is in some way attached to her sexuality, and that this value can in some way be measured in money. 

This discomfort comes mostly from the West, where people are very sensitive about the western history of slavery. As a result, many western cultures have gone completely to the opposite extreme and declared that a woman’s value is actually assigned to her by her own self, and that it has nothing to so with her sexuality or with money. 

That is a nice thought. 

Unfortunately, modern sociologists are discovering that this opposite extreme is just not working. In the ancient world, a woman was most valuable if she was not sexually active before marriage. In the modern world, a women is now most valuable if she is sexually active before marriage. In the ancient world, a woman’s primary value came from her ability to reproduce children, and this value could be measured in money. In the modern world now, a woman’s primary value is in her ability to produce money directly — and children are often seen as an obstruction to this goal. 

So the painful irony is that, despite our modern attempts to make sure women have intrinsic, individualistic value, a woman’s value is still tied to sex and production, just like it always has been in historic cultures. We have simply replaced one ancient set of lies with an equal-but-opposite modern set of lies. 

But God’s law condemns and corrects both of those lies. God’s law corrects the ancient lie that a woman is valuable only if she is sexually pure; it also corrects the modern lie that a woman is valuable only if she is sexually active. God’s law corrects the ancient lie that a woman is valuable only if she makes children; it also corrects the modern lie that a woman is valuable only if she makes money. God’s law corrects the ancient lie that a woman’s value is assigned to her by her society; it also corrects the modern lie that a woman’s value is assigned to her by herself. 

In our faith — in the Christian faith — a woman’s value is assigned to her by her Heavenly Father. She is valuable because she is a daughter of God. Full stop. In God’s family, a woman does not lose her value if she loses her virginity. Quite the opposite: her Heavenly Father will demand full compensation from any man who seduces one of his daughters. 

And it is, in fact, that demand for compensation that preserves the value of God’s daughters, even if they have been seduced, manipulated, or abused in some other way. 

So what we are discovering is that the emphasis on a bride price here is not degrading to women, it actually preserves the value of women. We should not be uncomfortable with verses like these — we should celebrate them! 

We are also discovering that the emphasis on a bride price also preserves the value of sex. Which is very important for us to understand, because our modern world is working very hard to convince us that sex is meaningless: just a casual fun activity designed to boost an individual’s self-esteem. But again, psychologists and sociologists all over the modern world are discovering that the opposite is actually true: statistically speaking, the more casual sex a woman has in her attempts to assign value to herself…the less valuable she tends to perceive herself to be. Whereas women all over the world who reserve their sexual expression generally turn out to be physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier over the long run. 

So science itself is confirming what God made explicit almost 3500 years ago: sex is a profoundly symbolic sign of a profoundly significant covenant — the covenant of marriage. When men and women try to seize the covenant sign without joining together in the covenant reality, they get hurt. Especially women. Yes, premarital seduction does also degrade the guy. But the word of God — and modern sociological science — tells us that the damage is much more strongly pronounced in women. 

Okay. So what are some practical applications of this section on sexual ethics? 

Here we go: 

Brothers, young men, if you really love your girlfriend, do not seduce her. If you do, you are devaluing her. You are essentially agreeing with the world that her value lies in her sexuality, not in her humanity. 

And guys, hear this if you hear nothing else: this is still true even if it is your girlfriend trying to seduce you. Just because she is giving you consent does not make it right. She is actually acting out the lie the world has fed her: that her value lies in her sexuality. If you submit to her seduction, then you are reinforcing that lie, you are participating in that lie. 

And guys, that is a lie against the very nature of who she is as a daughter of God! And look: if you are worried about how her human father might react if he finds out…how much more should you be worried about how her Heavenly Father is going to react? 

Now: sisters, young women, you were made to be worth more than just sex appeal and productivity. Many of you will become wives and mothers, if God wills — but your fundamental value does not come from those roles. Your value comes from the reality that you were made to be, first: daughters of the Living God, and second: sisters within the Body of Christ. These are titles and roles that can never be taken from you! 

So if your boyfriend is trying to seduce you, pay careful attention to what his seduction might be revealing about his character: 

It could be that there is just a very powerful mutual attraction going on, which is a good part of the godly prelude to marriage. And that kind of good attraction does want to express itself through words and actions. We see a godly example of this in the Song of Solomon. But if that is the case in your relationship, then the wisdom of the Song of Solomon applies here: do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. Delight in your mutual desire, but resist temptation until marriage. 

However — little sisters, please hear this if you hear nothing else — it could also be that your boyfriend is prideful and selfish. It could be that his romantic manipulation before marriage will turn into command and control after marriage. And please understand: most guys do not do this on purpose. They do not know that their weak character before marriage — if it is not corrected — has a very strong chance of turning into a monstrous character after marriage. Most Christian boyfriends are very nice guys, they are not monsters…yet. But they could be. 

So now you want to know: how can you tell if your boyfriend has a weak but growing character, or if he is actually a selfish monster-in-training? 

Well, sisters, here is the truth: mostly you cannot tell. Because you are too close to the situation. But your brothers and your fathers can tell. Your sisters and mothers can tell. And that is why God’s law puts the final decision about marriage in the father’s hands, in the mother’s hands, in the family’s hands, in the hands of the community: because people outside a relationship are always, always wiser than the people inside a relationship. 

So here are some practical pointers: if your boyfriend is consistently trying to lead you away from your family, away from your church community, then: break up with him, ASAP. Consciously or sub-consciously, what he is doing is trying to isolate you so that you will have no one else to ask for counsel before marriage, and no one to rely on for help after marriage. A man like that is afraid that your community will see his poor character and ask him to grow up a bit before he marries you. Because he is prideful and selfish, he wants what he wants now, and he wants it for free. He does not want to be challenged to improve, he is the equivalent of a man in the ancient world who did not want to pay a fair bride price. Sisters, do not allow yourselves to be bound to a man like that. 

However, if your boyfriend is willing to participate in your community life, if he is willing to seek out wise counsel and submit to discipleship, if he is willing to wait until others outside your relationship say that he is ready to pursue you and marry you…then this is a man with a good and growing character. He will not be perfect. He will be a prideful, selfish sinner all his life. But at least he has a track-record of confession and repentance and submission to a greater authority. A man with that kind of good track-record is much less likely to isolate and abuse you later on. 

And guys — brothers — those tests equally apply to the women you are dating: if she is consistently trying to isolate you from your family or your church community, if she refuses to listen to outside counsel, then…well, I think you know what you ought to do. 

But all this brings us now to the broader application of our text today. The central point here is not supposed to be sexual ethics — we only took the time to do a deep dive into that topic because it is such a central problem for our global culture today. But the broader application of this passage is actually how to tell if someone is truly repentant. 

Last week we learned that God really cares about equality and fairness, especially when it comes to physical harm. Now, this week, we have learned that this concept of fairness also extends to financial harm, but with a slight difference: sometimes financial harm requires a repayment that seems greater than the initial loss. Sometimes justice requires a simple one-for-one exchange; sometimes justice requires a two-for-one, four-for-one, five-for-one exchange — or more. Which means that there are times when the judges in a community of God’s people must very carefully weigh just how much harm has been done, so they can make sure the person who was hurt is made as financially and socially whole as possible. 

And here’s the thing: this system will only work if people voluntarily submit to the judges’ decisions. We see this in Chapter 22 verse 9 and then again in verse 11: sometimes there are extremely difficult disagreements in which it is very hard to tell for sure who is in the wrong. In those cases, everyone has an opinion, of course, but in the end it is for the judges to say, “This guy must pay back double to the other,” or “We find that no restitution is required here.” In those cases, as it says in verse 11, the people are to accept this, even if they privately disagree. 

But people will only be able to accept difficult judgements if they are people whose lives are defined by repentance. Repentance comes from humility; humility comes from knowing that I am actually quite helplessly blinded by pride and selfishness: I cannot trust my own judgement. And if God has truly given me the humility of realizing just how blinded I am, then I can begin to rest in the knowledge that people outside a disagreement are always wiser than the people caught inside a disagreement; which means I can learn to trust their judgement, as they are guided by God’s Word and Spirit. 

And so this is the very practical application of our text today, this is how we can tell if someone is truly repentant: are they willing to submit to the judgements of people outside themselves? Are they willing — are they eager — to do whatever they have to do to make up for how they have hurt others? According to this passage, those are the measureable signs of true repentance. 

Here’s the simplest say to say it: in God’s economy, just saying “sorry” is not enough. Because “sorry” does not make people whole. A person who is truly sorry will not just say “sorry”, they will also say, “what must I do to make things right? I want to redeem our relationship by the payment of whatever is demanded.” That is what a true heart of repentance sounds like. 

And we get to see a beautiful example of this in the New Testament when Zacchaeus the tax-collector repents of all his corrupt business practices and proves it by saying, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” That decision probably broke him, financially. But Zacchaeus did not care, because that loss was nothing compared to the joy of discovering that his relationship with God and with his community had been restored. 

Okay. So, now: what are some practical applications of this larger point? What should we do in response to this passage? 

Let us do this: let us examine ourselves to see whether these practical fruits of repentance are evident in our lives. We all sin. We are all prideful and selfish. Sometimes we are so prideful and selfish we wonder, “Am I really a Christian?” Well, this is one way we can reassure ourselves: when I harm somebody else physically, financially, socially, sexually, and then I am caught and asked to take steps to make things right…this is the test of my faith: am I willing to attempt restitution? Is there some Spirit within me that whispers through the shame, “Yes, this is difficult, but this is the right and loving thing to do”? If so, then despite our continuing pride and selfishness we can say, “Yes, I really am a Christian.” 

If you are not aware of that voice whispering within you, if you have never confessed your sins to anybody or taken any practical steps to make restitution for the ways you have hurt others…then you may not be a Christian. But if that is the case, then pray now. Ask Jesus to make you alive through his Holy Spirit, ask Jesus to give you a heart of compassion for everyone you have wronged — and he will do it. You will be reconciled to God and to a family you never knew you had. 

But if you have examined yourself and discovered this fruit of the Spirit at work within, then here is something else we should do in response to this passage: we should also be looking for and encouraging these marks of true repentance in our brothers and sisters — especially in our significant others. So again: young men, young women, pay close attention to the person you are interested in marrying. This is the test of their faith: when they sin against you, are they willing to say ”sorry,” and are they willing to say “what can I do to make it right?” When they are in deep conflict with you or someone else, are they willing to seek outside counsel and submit their case to wiser authorities? If so, then despite your significant other’s continued pride and selfishness you can say, “Yes, this person really is a Christian.” 

Those are some practical things we can do to love one another, and to love God. 

But I do want to close now with a reminder of what our Father has done to love us: he sent his Son, Jesus, to pay back all that we have stolen, and return to us all that has been stolen. 

The ultimate reason we are able to repent is because we know that we have been forgiven. The only thing that gives us the courage to say “I will pay whatever is demanded!” is the Holy Spirit’s voice telling us that whatever we have to pay in this life has actually already been paid forward in the next life, and will someday be returned to us. We will be made whole — we are being made whole even now. 

So in closing, let us rejoice in our freedom from shame and fear. If you have sinned sexually against another, against yourself, if you have sinned socially, financially, physically…do not despair. No matter how we may have been devalued, no matter how we may have devalued ourselves, in Christ our value remains undiminished. See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are. 

Brothers and sisters, no one can take that away from us. 

This is the word of the Lord. 

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