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The Bible offers practical advice on an unbelievably wide number of topics. You can take nearly anything happening in the world today and find guidance about it in the Bible.

“Brownout” /Crisis

Take, for instance, the public health crisis currently happening in San Francisco. Since 2011, at least 118,352 instances of public human defecation have been reported (not to mention all the unreported ones). The watchdog organization, Open the Books, took the public records and mapped out every single known public instance in that time, resulting in the following graph.

The problem is so out of control that it has become known as the “Brownout.”

So what does the Bible say about this problem? It actually offers clear and direct guidance:

You must have a place outside the camp to go and relieve yourself. And you must have a digging tool in your equipment so that when you relieve yourself, you can dig a hole and cover up your excrement. For the Lord your God walks throughout your camp to protect you and deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, lest He see anything unclean among you and turn away from you. Deuteronomy 23:12-14

It’s a simple problem, and the Bible gives a simple solution. But San Francisco has refused to enforce any such public standard. So what have the results been? Very negative.

Economic Drain & Disease

The economic drain has been immense. In just one year alone, the total budget for cleaning up the streets from this “brownout” was a jaw-dropping $72.5 million. (This included $12 million for homeless encampment street housekeeping services, $3.1 million for portable toilets, and nearly $1 million for a “Poop Patrol.”) Yet despite this extensive expenditure, the issue has worsened: over the past seven years the instances of public defecation have increased 500%.

In addition to the economic costs, this “brownout” has led to the re-emergence of several devastating diseases that have broken out in the city, including typhoid, tuberculosis, and even signs of a return of the medieval bubonic plague.

Creative Solutions

The severity of this crisis uncovers the reality that local, city and state government need creative solutions not just a surge of financial resources. If only San Francisco would apply creative Biblical solutions to the “brownout.” Simply to avoid the devastating effects of the public health crisis, the citizens of San Francisco ought to make their city “holy, lest [God] see anything unclean among you and turn away.”

In the third chapter of Acts the Apostle Peter exclaimed to a man who was lame since birth, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” The good news is that IN JESUS we have the answers and creative solutions that our world is searching for.

Peter also exhorted, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; Acts 3:19 NASB



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