In part 2 our series we continued the discussion of this question: “Is it ok for a Christian to invest in so called ‘vice stocks'”?
An article in Kiplinger personal finance magazine got me thinking about the topic, and to be honest, when I started the series I was a bit conflicted about how involved in my investing decisions I wanted to be. Do I really want to go digging around in my 401k account trying to figure out what funds I'm holding and whether or not they're with socially responsible companies? The answer to that question was NO. I didn't want to.
But then I got to thinking a little bit more about my responsibilities as a Christian to be a good steward of what I've been given. From Deuteronomy 8:
You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. Deuteronomy 8:17-18
God has been generous enough to bless me with enough resources so that I have money left over to invest. If he has been that generous, shouldn't I at least be a good steward of what he has given me? 1 Corinthians goes on to talk about how we need to be aware of our roles as Christians:
So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2
God has given us much, and I realized that I must do my best to prove faithful, in my money dealings, and in the rest of my life. We are examples to the rest of the world, and we need to do our best to be a shining light.
Photo by curiouskiwi
As I looked to my bible for answers on this question, the verses kept popping out at me, left and right. From Luke:
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48
Again, I've been blessed financially so I need to not only be generous in my giving, but I also need to be a good steward of what I've been given. As a Christian, I need to hold myself to a higher standard.
So where does that put me in respect to the opinions that we've looked at in the previous two posts? To review, the two sides essentially both said that we need to avoid direct involvement with companies that are morally suspect. That is something we can all agree on. So I won't be buying any stock in Playboy, or working for Wynn Resorts and Casinos.
The difference of opinion that was voiced was that some people thought we need to avoid indirect contact with those companies and their stock as well. We need to scour all of our holdings, our funds, anything that might promote something we don't stand for – and remove it from our portfolio.
At first I thought that idea was going to be near impossible to put into practice. In theory, it sounds good, but can it really be done?
One of the commenters in the last post in this series, Ron Robins at Investingforthesoul.com provided me with a link to a handy little tool that allows you to check your investments, and see if you have any suspect companies hiding in your portfolio. I can't tell you how easy it was to check my accounts. In a matter of a few minutes I was able to check out all of the funds held in my 401k and discover that although most of my holdings are OK, I DO have holdings in one or two companies that promote alcohol and gambling. Oops, who knew? Guess I'll need to do some shuffling of my investments in the coming days.
Photo by pingnews
So as you can see, finding the suspect investments doesn't have to be as hard as you might think. Just look them up in the aforementioned tool.
For me based on the bible study I've done, and the opinions I've read, I believe I need to keep a closer watch on my investments. I want to be a better steward of my (God's) money, and make sure that it isn't being used for things that are not of his Kingdom. While I'm still not sure if I can be 100% on this, I do know that I'm going to try.
At this point I wanted to share some of the great feedback we received from commenters during this series. Thanks to all who participated!
Ron Robins: I believe that we must incorporate higher values in our investing decisions.! The reason for this is that when we invest in a company, or many companies in the case of a mutual fund, we share in the responsibility for the activities of those companies as well as participate in the outcomes of their corporate actions.
Also, I believe that if everyone does invest according to their personal values, then, since so many of core values are alike — and are supportive of higher ideals — that in the long run, only companies employing these higher values will truly prosper.
That Guy: We all have a responsibility for our direct and indirect actions, and we do have the power to find out the holdings of mutual funds before we invest, and we do have the option to invest in “moral” funds, and we do have other investment opportunities if the funds puzzle is too much. Take responsibility for your investments – all of them!
FreeFromBroke.com: There may not be many SRI's to invest but that would change if the demand for them changed. There's so many ETF's and such that come out every day. It may be that people who find “vice” companies objectionable need to contact companies like iShares and make it known that they are hungry for more SRI-type investments.
Mrs. Micah: One fund I found recently is the Domini 400. It's supposed to mimic the S&P 500 but take out the offensive companies and add some less offensive ones. It's said to do pretty well (at mimicking the S&P 500), though I'm not good at analysis so you'd definitely have to look into it for yourself. I don't know how it does on “vice” but I think it's supposed to screen a lot of those out.
PTMoney.com: I think it's just about impossible to avoid investing in sin when it comes to mutual funds, which is what I invest in. Even if you directly invest in a “clean” company, who's to say that CEO isn't taking that money through his salary and using it for evil? I think it's just had to control this.
Is it ok for a Christian to invest in “Vice Stocks”? Part 1
Is it ok for a Christian to invest in “Vice Stocks”? Part 2
Want to know what you own in your fund? click here.
Investing for the Soul
The Virtues of Vice Stocks – Kiplinger.com
Socially Responsible Investing: Where to Draw the Line
Investing with a conscience – boundless.org
Why religion is an important part of personal finance – Getrichslowly.org
Funds for Christian Investors – Business Week
Timothy Plan Hall of Shame Companies to avoid