There is a serpent in the garden, but unlike the Biblical serpent, we apparently invited this one in.
In the mid nineteenth century we created the larval form of a creature we know as “Homeowners’ Associations” as the country started to transition from a mainly rural/agrarian society to an industrial/urban/suburban society. The larva wasn’t too dangerous so it was ignored and might have died eventually but in the nineteen-sixties the FHA and Urban Land Institute got involved. As the need for more and more housing increased, suburban communities grew and these agencies pushed for a uniform look. In order to protect this uniformity these communities would have rules governing how a house should look: how tall the grass could be, the height of a fence, the color of the siding. In return, they offered green, growing “common areas”, some services, and maybe a swimming pool.
Doesn’t sound too bad right? After all, it keeps down in the “unsightly” stuff, right?
Unless you look at the dark underbelly. If you are one of the millions who have to deal with a HoA you know how dark they can be. For instance, you do not have a choice to belong or not. If your home is in one of these communities then you belong and you will have to pay your “dues”, in addition to the taxes you pay to the state and/or city. You pay your property taxes, but you do not have full rights to your property. You can only use approved colors on your house. If something needs to be repaired, you must repair it, never mind if you don’t have the money to do the repairs. If you do not get it repaired in a certain time period the HoA can and will fine you. To them, it is more important that you get this done than if you have enough food on your table. If you risk live and limb to do the repairs yourself, to save money, they will tell you that you assume the liability. If you are injured, it is your problem.
Do you like leaving your decorations out after the holidays? Sorry, you are required to take decorations down within a few days (or weeks for Christmas) in a HoA. Do you want to put up a flag? You better check your HoA by-laws. People have been fined for having Old Glory flying. Did you get new cable in? You may have to paint the wires to match the color of your siding. (no joke, this happened to us) Is the paint on your metal chimney old and chipped? They can tell you to have it painted. Do you like to work on your car? Sorry, that is not permitted here.
If you ask someone who is in favor of a Homeowners Association, they typically say they like that it protects their property values. They like that their neighbors have to “keep their property up”. They like being able to tell their neighbors what to do with their own property. Property values and appearance; those are materialist concerns. These people are not concerned with the safety and security of their community they are concerned only with themselves.
I submit that HoA’s are not a creation of Light. God had no hand in creating them. He teaches us to care about others, to teach and guide them, not force them to do as we say. He tells us to be concerned with our own righteousness, not with our neighbors’ failings. He tells us to focus on him, not on material concerns.
But there is one who does tell us to worry about how we look, what others think about us, to protect our material items, the first Serpent, the one that slipped into the Garden. His son, the larva, HoA, has grown into another serpent and we have invited that serpent in to dwell with us.