When it comes to investing in the 21st century, individual’s are often barraged and overwhelmed by the multitude of products available: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange traded funds (ETF’s), real estate investment funds (REIT’s), hedge funds and commodities. Given this expansive and ever-growing list of investment options, what does it mean for one to focus their portfolio on what we call ‘Christian-based investing’?
Historically speaking, the term ‘value-based investing’ originated around 1920. This method gave investors the choice of avoiding investments in alcohol and tobacco. As the 1970’s evolved, this investment movement (later recognized as ‘socially responsible investing’) had become primarily a left-wing phenomenon. In addition to avoiding companies involved in alcohol and tobacco, socially responsible investing began screening for environmental pollution, nuclear power, animal rights, employee diversity and other similar issues.
Today, socially conservative investors can once again use values-based investing as it was originally designed: to screen out investments in cultural and moral pollution. Unfortunately, it seems like the majority of public corporations feel it feasible to either produce a product or service that support’s or profit’s from a variety of immoral activities that undermine many typically socially accepted Christian traditional values.
As a direct result, the offshoot of ‘Christian-based investing’ arose. But, what exactly does it mean to invest as a Christian?
For several centuries, investing money has been a source of debate amongst Christians. While many argue that investing is unbiblical and that extra or surplus money should be given to the needy, others argue that investing must be a part of every Christian’s financial plan.
As a result, should investing be considered scriptural? The answer to this question can often depend upon the situation. For example, anyone investing because of greed (Luke 12:15), to get rich quick (Proverbs 23:4-5), or to massage his ego (Proverbs 29:23) is not participating in biblically based investing. On the other hand, those who are acting as good stewards (Luke 19:12-27) or those who are saving for future needs such as college or retirement (Proverbs 6:6-8) are participating in biblical investing.
Christian-based investing gives individuals a Biblical choice when it comes to investing. The central concept involves avoiding investing in products or services (companies, mutual funds, exchange traded funds, etc.) that are involved in practices contrary to Christian principles. For example, some moral issues that are in direct contradiction to Christian principles are companies involved in abortion, pornography, anti-family entertainment, non-married lifestyles, alcohol, tobacco and gambling. Along the same lines, Christian-based investing means investing in companies that help protect the environment we have been given by God and in companies that follow ethical and human practices with workers. Christian investing can also be termed to avoid companies that support research that can lead to the taking of life.
Through Christian-based investing, individuals can choose to match their morals and convictions with their investments. Depending on the investment product, return opportunities do not necessarily have to be sacrificed. Christian investing is not about investing in churches, or solely in Christian companies, but rather investing in good, solid companies which help to improve the world in which we all live, while avoiding investing in companies that are involved in practices contrary to Christian principles.
Many Christians do not realize that the money they have invested in their stocks and mutual funds are being used to support someone else’s values. Conducting a strict research process employing specific moral screening criteria can help individual’s avoid investing their money in any company that has a pattern of contributing to the cultural degradation of society.
When one thinks of the Bible, one generally does not relate it’s teaching’s directly to money. However, it is interesting to note that The Bible has over 2000 verses that can give us wisdom on how to deal not only with investing, but money in general, finances, and financial planning that individuals can use as a guide when making their investment decisions.
In conclusion, the following are a few passages from the bible dealing directly with money and investing:
- 1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from their faith and pierced themselves with many grief’s.
- Proverbs 15:16 – Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.
- Proverbs 10:2 – Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.
- Titus 3:8 – This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.