The Christian Focus

I wanted to know if, in general, Christians view or think about money differently than people that don’t practice a particular faith (I’ll call them “religiously neutral”). Of course I don’t want to launch into doing any academic, intense research about this, but I did decide to do a little informal research. I searched Google for “Christian personal finance” and then “Personal finance help” (I first did “Personal finance” but only got back news and magazine articles about the topic) to see if there was any interesting differences between what the different types of sites were focusing on. I found 10 sites in each category, skipping sites that didn’t give much information or weren’t what I was looking for. I was interested in blogs and websites that were trying to help people with their finances. Then, I tallied up the times the sites mentioned individual topics in their home pages or about sections, like “debt,” or “saving money.” I figure you could find just about any topic on any site, but the site author is going to put what they either deal with most or care about most on the main page or about section. Here’s what I found:

Key Topics Emphasized on Personal Finance Websites and Blogs

Key Topics Emphasized on Personal Finance Websites and Blogs

Although this data is quite informal and possibly would show very different patterns if I had searched for other things, like “Christian investing,” I still find the data to be quite fascinating. Why do Christians focus so much on debt? Are they in debt more than nonbelievers? Could this solely be the influence of Dave Ramsey, Larry Burkett, and others? Better yet, should Christians be more focused on getting out of debt? Is it unethical or even immoral to owe someone something and not be doing all you can to repay them right away?

Clearly, there should be noted differences between how Christians view and think about money in comparison to nonbelievers. There is no reason or compulsion for an agnostic to donate 10% of her money to anyone. One would expect and hope that Christians are thinking about giving and tithing more than their non-christian counterparts. Investing could fall into this category, as well. Christians, although they also need to invest well, should have other goals in mind. For someone who is religiously neutral, it may be more reasonable to expect him to want to get rich just to be rich (although I argued in a previous post that no one really does that).

However, I question whether debt should also be in the category of distinctly different from anyone else. Can Christians not live a Christ-centered, fulfilling life while also being okay with carrying some debt (I’m thinking of low interest debt more than consumer debt)? One site I found even suggested that a Christian cannot spiritually grow until he is debt-free. Christ seemed to care more about our attitudes about money than the actual money itself, or its amount. Our money and our hearts can go in two separate directions.

-N&$

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4 thoughts on “The Christian Focus

  1. Pingback: Is the Borrower a Slave to the Lender? | Numbers And Sense

  2. Pingback: We Must Define the Debt We Are Talking About | Numbers And Sense

  3. As a christian man in his 30s, i do care a lot about debt. I understand it’s possible to have and use money without it affecting your heart, although it is very hard, debt makes this even more difficult. As a christian every Sunday i’m called to disregard the things of this world and look towards heaven, but debt feels like a chain around my foot holding it to the ground. Of course it’s not, that’s just how it feels. Jesus basically commanded us not to serve money, but living with debt feels a lot like the bank is the master. But you’re right, the heart may go any which way, and as long as i look to God to sustain my life I’m saved, only i can easily see why debt would be such a hot topic.

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    • Jason, thanks so much for the comment. I appreciate you perspective and insight. While I agree with you, I don’t think I feel the same way. I don’t regularly think of my debt (which is $100k+ between mortgage and student loans) on a Sunday morning, so I don’t think I feel it weighing me down as you describe. However, though I don’t feel it in the same way, I know from talking to several other Christians that it is a very common experience, hence it being a common topic. (I might be in the minority!) And this is what I want to explore more, among other things: should we be in a rush to eliminate debt because it feels like a chain? Or is there a way to loosen the chain feeling while still owing money? I don’t know, either for myself, or more broadly.
      -N&$

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