Question: "How should a Christian view the Mafia?"
Answer: The Mafia, also called the Mob, is an organized international body of criminals that uses ruthless methods to control much of the drug running, prostitution, and other crime throughout the United States and Europe. The word Mafia comes from a Sicilian adjective mafiusu, which means “bravado” or “swagger.” Some people are attracted to the money, influence, and risk associated with Mafia activities. The Mafia represents illicit power and wealth, and in some circles an invitation to join is considered an honor. Even though many Mafia fronts are legitimate businesses and may even have ties to charities, Christians should not knowingly be involved on any level with the Mafia.
Originating in Sicily, the Italian Mafia migrated west and spawned the creation of an American Mafia. There are five primary Mafia “families” that control all organized crime. They are the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese families, which rule primarily from New York and Chicago. Their activities include murder, extortion, human trafficking, corruption of public officials, gambling, infiltration of legitimate businesses, labor racketeering, loan sharking, tax fraud, and stock manipulation schemes. The Mafia is called “organized crime” because the infrastructure is highly advanced and fiercely protective of its holdings. Mafia wars are often the source of unsolved murders and even gang activity. The Mafia is only a larger and more sophisticated street gang.
The Mafia is the epitome of everything God despises: pride, murder, immorality, greed, lying, and wicked schemes. In fact, Proverbs 6:16–19 provides a fairly accurate sketch of the Mafia when it says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” That is an apt description of the Mafia’s activities.
Christians are to live lives that are a direct contrast to those of Mafia members. The motivation of a Mafioso is money and power. Those lusts belong to our sinful nature and have no place in the life of a Christian (Romans 6:1–6). When we see those sinful tendencies growing in our own lives, we are to crucify them, not cater to them (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Mafia members have essentially sold their souls to the devil, choosing money and power as their gods. They often have lightly religious influences, primarily Catholic, and may attend Mass or confession in an attempt to make themselves right with God. But Scripture is clear that religion cannot save anyone or make us right with God. The only hope for anyone’s soul is in surrendering to the lordship of Jesus Christ, forsaking his old life, and taking up his cross to follow Him (Luke 9:23; 14:26–27; Matthew 16:24–27). Part of cross-carrying is forsaking anything that displeases the Lord. Everything the Mafia represents displeases the Lord, so we should hate its activities the same way the Lord does (Psalm 97:10).