I’ve written a number of times now on vagrancy.
I’ve done so because it’s a problem that before the pandemic confronted me each day downtown as I walked from my loft to work in one of the largest cities in the U.S.
Then, during the pandemic, my wife and I were in the midst of an unbridled binge watch of The Andy Griffith Show episodes on Apple TV, and we came upon one about vagrancy.
This was the episode where Buddy Ebson (later of The Beverly Hillbillies fame) played a vagrant who wandered into Mayberry, and befriended Opie, extolling to him the benefits of the vagrant lifestyle. Opie was fascinated at first, but fortunately Andy intervened, and in the end, with Ebson’s help, Opie saw the light on volitional vagrancy.
I doubt our current culture is capable of making a proper moral judgment about volitional vagrancy. The homeless have become the urban noble savage, seen as a victim not of their own choices but of the alleged evils of a rigged economic system.
The first vagrant was Cain. See Gen. 4:12. And Cain’s story makes it clear that, at least in Cain’s case, vagrancy was a curse. See Gen. 4:11-12 (“Now you are cursed . . . . you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth”). That a curse made Cain a vagrant does not mean every vagrant is cursed, but it should destroy any illusions about the virtues of the vagrant lifestyle.
To understand why vagrancy is a cursed condition one must understand vagrancy. Vagrancy, quite simply, is the state of being unemployed and homeless. It is being jobless and hut-less, out of a situation and on the streets.
Both conditions are contrary to God’s original mandate that man subdue the earth and rule over it and His Kingdom’s purpose to reconcile creation to Himself. Our work is the primary means by which King Jesus manages the planet and we change the world. Those who do not work are excluded from the opportunity work provides to manage people, places, and things for King Jesus.
Our homes, whether large or small, owned or rented, represent the most fundamental unit of physical territory we manage for the glory of King Jesus. Those who are homeless do not do not manage such territory for King Jesus. Cardboard refrigerator boxes don’t count.
Vagrancy then undermines two of Jesus’ most important tools for managing the planet, which is why we should despise it, discourage it, and do our best to defeat it. GS