“Free” and the Destruction of Worth


It's free!It takes time to prepare a bid on a project. Time is money. You make no money preparing bids. A bid is simply a hope for a future realization of money.

I don’t think the man requesting bids on one particular project was a bad person. He simply was misinformed. Or maybe he knew exactly what he was doing by submitting his project in a public forum. Maybe he was the smartest person in the forum.

The bid to write that 250-page technical manual was won by someone bidding $99.

I remember one bid where it would not have been outrageous to expect $30,000, but only $2,500 was budgeted by the offerer.

I saw a writing job offered recently that sought a writer to compose 10 children’s books. The offer was $50. Not per book, but for all 10.

And newspapers are fighting to stay alive because their revenue model keeps taking hits.

Everywhere I turn, the quality of writing has gone down. Not because people can’t write a decent sentence, but because the writing contains so few ideas of worth. It possesses no depth. It exists to occupy space on a page. Whether that page is digital or print doesn’t matter. I read the words, and they vanish from my head as swiftly as they entered, a nonstop stream of gruel.

Everyone is a writer, and yet so few truly are.

Free is to blame.

People have fallen in love with free. Open source software. Free. Internet advertising. Free. Information delivery systems. Free.

When I first started my business, I got regular calls from the Yellow Pages seeking my listing. They don’t call anymore because you can list your business for free in multiple outlets that will drive far more business to your storefront.

But, of course, more and more of that business is expecting something for free. Or darned near close to it.

Free has come to dominate how we think. In an article on unexpected trends, I read that free is killing the industry that dominates the Internet: pornography. We even want our vices free.

Don’t we get a little touchy when we can’t get something we want for free? Or a perk for free along with that paid item? Something. Anything.

That I’m using WordPress to compose this missive and power this blog is not lost on me. How WordPress makes money for Automattic is.


I think the Church is struggling with free. Most of what the Church does is free and always has been. Someone to be there by the bedside of a sick member. The dinner delivered to the family with the new baby. The Men’s Group oil change for the single moms. All free.

The struggle?

Now that we live in a world where free is expected, something terrible happened to worth.

When a company expects a writer to churn out 10 children’s books for $50, the underlying truth is those books have no worth. It is not a far stretch to consider that the writer of those books doesn’t have much worth either.

Did I mention that it was a Christian company behind that children’s book project?

What the Church offered for free once had immeasurable worth. We Christians saw how much effort went into offering to others our time and effort.

Now it seems that few consider what goes into the service we render to others. Like so many things that are now free, the inherent worth of that service and the people who give it is lost and forgotten.

Free isn’t so much appreciated as it is expected. And once it becomes an expectation, it becomes harder to see its value.

I believe that many people today cannot see the value of the little aspects of Faith in Jesus and the life we live as a Body because free has reduced their perceived worth to zero.

We do not gather together daily as the Church once did because we no longer comprehend the ROI.

We do not appreciate the authenticity of ritual because ritual is free and therefore easy and next to worthless.

We do not ponder the lives of others because human life is cheap in the eyes of the world.

Jesus is free, and so are eternal life and the fellowship of Faith.

Is it any wonder then that so few people grasp that trio’s infinite worth?

The Cash Value of a Man


A woman only has worth if she’s young and beautiful.

Does anyone reading this believe that statement?

Tuesday night, my wife and I were driving home from a surprise birthday party for a long-time friend, when I made the mistake of turning on a Christian radio station. Yes, I said mistake.

Now most of you readers know that I don’t like to name names when it comes to Christian nuttiness. I tend to avoid pointing fingers at individuals or ministries, preferring to go with the understanding that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

I’m not going to let this one slide though.

The Family Life program was on, featuring a speaker who preached on real manhood, claiming that clueless men are proliferating at an exponential rate. In trying (pathetically and eisegetically, if you ask me) to preach on the husband and wife section of Ephesians 5, he noted that “to nourish and cherish a wife means…money.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t see money mentioned at all in Ephesians 5. I do see a man called to love his wife unconditionally just as Christ loved the Church. The astute will notice that this call to unconditional love of one’s wife flies in the very face of the worldly statement that opened this post. Christians men are to love their wives, even when that fleeting beauty fades and age envelops like a wrinkled cloak.

Can we all agree on that?

As if the ridiculously eisegeted comment about money wasn’t enough, the same preacher (a noted “expert” on biblically-based sex roles) dropped this bomb:

If a man wants his wife to respect him more, he should make more money.


Can I tell you what the world says about the worth of a man? It’s this:

A man only has worth if he is powerful and wealthy.

Does anyone besides me see that this preacher is just mimicking what the world says? We don’t accept that opening statement about a woman’s worth, yet we’re preaching that the respect due a man is directly tied to how much moolah he brings home? In cash we trust?So a Christian man should love his wife unconditionally, but a Christian woman should only respect her husband if he’s bringing home more and more cash?

By this standard, the apostles—at least the married ones—were damnable failures who deserved being nitpicked to death because their wives didn’t have a revolving account at Saks. And let’s not get into that poor carpenter, Joseph, and the miserable father he was for not ensuring Mary and Jesus a gilded, palatial estate overlooking the Jordan.

So much for seeking first the Kingdom! Better seek that fat pay raise or work two jobs, even if your kids never see you.

Who gave this “preacher” a microphone? Shame on Family Life!

Do I believe a man should provide for his family? Yes, I absolutely do. But what message are we sending when we Christians simply roll over and ape the world’s hellish message about a man’s worth?

For all our talk of conforming to biblical standards, we don’t. The Bible tells us that most people worked a farm. In fact, the entire household worked the farm. Distinctions between what men and women did for work didn’t really exist on a macro level. Yes, men did most of the brute strength farm work, while women did things like threshing (still a tough job), but they co-labored.

If we take a look at early America, often held up as Camelot by some Evangelicals, again, you see the same picture of farming and co-laboring, especially in the middle classes on the edge of the frontier. It was only after industrialization hit this country (and that only after a hundred years of factories and reforms) that we started seeing this sort of naïve ideal that a man can’t simply do a man’s work, he’s got to do his wife’s work, too. He better darned well do his work better than the guy next door, as well, because not everyone can have the good jobs. (Some guy’s gotta draw the short employment straw. Guess short straw’s wife won’t have much reason to respect him, now will she? I bet that’s a chilly bed!)

I’ve got to also wonder about a preacher who’s giving a message that the way to a wife’s respect is by making more money. A preacher. Think about that. Think about all the guys out there in the ministry who are making a pittance. I guess the only way those poor ministers are going to keep bringing home more bacon is if they start drinking the Church Growth Movement kool-aid! Butts in seats! Butts in seats! (And a mixed metaphor, too!)

Anyone out there besides me feel like crying?

Oops, can’t do that. Not manly enough.