The Morality of Wealth

Religious symbols

In talking with others about wealth and investing I find that there is a HUGE pressure on American Christians to be, act and remain poor.  I did a Google search for Bible verses on wealth, money and materialism and I found quite a few results that included many admonitions to be poor and to give up all of your wealth and possessions.

Now, I’m not going to get into a religious or philosophical discussion here – that’s a whole other website and I’ll leave it to someone to tackle those issues.  But I can say that almost my entire family comes from (very) religious stock & they are all quite poor.  I’m guessing that if you’ve come here, you are probably interested in getting rich.  If you are a Christian, you will have to balance your Biblical beliefs with your desire for wealth and how to merge the different philosophies.  Aside from Americans, this website is most visited by Chinese.  So, to my Chinese readers, whether you are Atheist, Buddhist, Christian or some other religion or philosophy, having a positive subconscious view that money and morality can coexist will be easier for you.

If you are a Christian person and you struggle with the idea that Jesus told the disciples to be poor and give up their possessions, you may consider some other logic.  Personally, I believe that any religious texts, if they were divinely inspired, have quite a bit of “influence” added by the writer.  And when I say influence, I mean distortion.  Now, if God’s hand came materialized and came down from the sky and wrote the book, it would be one thing.  But when a man puts it to paper, after first hearing it from someone else, there is a bit of distortion.

And, you have to look through a lens of context: when was the text written?  The Bible used to command people to stone those who worked on the Sabbath, but that has been done away with.  When Jesus told the disciples to “go poor,” did he mean EVERYONE or just those who personally followed him?

Is it possible to be rich and at the same time be religious?  Of course.  Provided that you’re smart with your money.  Giving it all away to your church isn’t smart.  Actually, I think over-donating (to your church or ANY other cause) is irresponsible.  If God gave you children and you give all your money away and your child becomes ill or you can’t afford to clothe them or pay for a good education, then you’re really a bad parent.  Good church-goer, but bad parent.  Bur really, this is what the New Testament says.  It says for the disciples to give up EVERYTHING for Jesus.  Does that mean that God expects ALL Christians WORLDWIDE to abandon their spouses and children?  Of course not.

When you look at what was written in context, you can see that there is no prohibition to wealth.  When looked at, in its totality, the Christian scripture warns against love of money more than God.  In other words, if you are so hungry for money that you will lie, cheat and steal, then, that is a bad thing.  And I can honestly say that I haven’t lied, cheated or stolen to save my first million dollars.

The good book does warn against indebtedness yet I see most Christians in debt.  Funny, so many Christians will chastise affluent people for violating God’s rules but a page later, when it says not to be in debt, they do the same thing.

And so, in our American culture, we have an inset bias against wealth and affluence.  it is no wonder that the immigrants to this country regularly beat Americans in the wealth competition game.  The average American seeks a “job” and the average immigrant seeks “opportunity” (often to start their own business.

I suggest that it is morally right to be affluent.  Have a look at God’s “chosen people,” the Jews.  They are, by capita, the richest people on Earth.  They don’t have any guilt trip when it comes to being wealthy.  This is an interesting paradigm because if they are God’s chosen (as believed by most Christians), how can they also be so wealthy?

Remember, all things in moderation.  God wants you to be happy and prosperous.  Saving enough money so that you can set up your children and grandchildren in their life is a good thing.  It is a moral thing.  Don’t let anyone tell you that having money goes against God’s will.  That is just silly.  If you look closely at your own religious beliefs and take them into the context of your whole religion, you will probably find that become affluent is good and it is moral.

Good luck, and good investing.

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