The parable of the dishonest manager is a singularly peculiar parable from Jesus. In it a rich man is given a report that his manager was wasting his possessions. Fearful of what might be the manager summoned his master’s debtors and reduced their bills. When the rich man learns of this he does not condemn but commends the dishonest manger for his shrewdness. Jesus concluded the parable saying: “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8).
It’s not the dishonesty that is approved in this manager but it’s his understanding of the situation and his ability to respond with foresight, quickness, and wisdom. Jesus uses the parable to argue from the lesser to the greater. As the sons of this world are so cautious and careful to provide for themselves how much more should the sons of the kingdom. Jesus is actually saying that this world can teach the church many lessons — and it is part of true wisdom to hear and receive that instruction.
I thought of Jesus’ parable this weekend when I read the news of a South Dakota GOP state Senate hopeful who has been accused of grooming, molestation, and rape. He is now facing felony charges of child abuse spanning a six year period and beginning when his victim was 12-years-old. The report is gut-wrenching but textbook-typical for abuse. His predation began by having the victim sit on his lap and by giving long hugs. He monitored and controlled her social media, required phone calls and text messages, dictated what clothes she could or should wear, and tracked her on her phone. Heartbreakingly, this victim thought these were “normal things that families were supposed to do.” Courageously, but only after years of grooming and abuse, she reported her abuser. On Thursday he was arrested and his initial hearing is today.