Most importantly, the ethic of relationship and the ethic of narrative leads to an ethic of secession (from the empire) in Walsh and Keesmaat’s study of Colossians, Colossians Remixed.
W-K begin with Wendell Berry — and his “The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag of Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union” and argue that Berry’s poem reflects the kind of thing Paul was saying in Colossians.
Is Colossians 3:5, with its putting to death of sexuality a world-denying ethic? No, they argue, it is an ethic of secession from the ideology of sexual consumerism.
It is an ethic of sexual life in the face of sexual death.
“Secede,” they say, “from the unholy unions of power and money, genius and war, outer space and inner vacuity, that distort your lives” (160). The list of 3:5 is important: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
Sex outside of marriage, distortion of character, uncontrolled appetites, and self-gratification are Paul’s concerns. Sexual sin is “fundamentally a matter of covetousness” (160). Berry calls this “industrial sexuality” — consumeristic, capitalistic sex.
These sins lead to economic sin and idolatry — in the prophets “idolatry invariably resulted in sexual sin wedded to economic injustice” (162).
Humans are homo religiosus — they yearn for God. Made to love God. But humans, whenever they turn from God, become idolatrous. The images/idols to which we turn distort us because we are remade into the image of our idols/whatever gods we have. This pursuit cuts us off from Christ, from our true image-bearing nature, and from we really desire. God’s wrath is against this (3:6). “Wrath is the right response to screwing around with idols” (164).