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Money, wealth, accumulation, greed, and charity.

Are billionaires guilty of avarice?

Postby Subjects » Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:04 pm

Are all billionaires who horde money for themselves guilty of avarice?

Obviously this question excludes billionaires who have given the vast bulk of their wealth to those most in need. Some billionaires have agreed to pass on all of their wealth to charity and that's all well and good.

A man has two billion dollars: he intends to keep it all to himself and then pass it on to his children so that his bloodline can be perpetually wealthy. He gives nothing, or very little, to charity.

Does this constitute avarice? [if not, what does!?]

Follow-up question: why do so many Christians seem to fight against sins that relate to matters of sexuality (i.e. promiscuity and homosexuality) whilst doing so little to fight the sin of avarice? Surely the latter is far more significant and causes far greater social harms (e.g. if I choose to let ten thousand people die so that I can have two billion dollars instead of one billion dollars, surely that's a greater sin that having sex with someone of my own sex?).

Re: Are billionaires guilty of avarice?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:11 pm

God doesn't object to wealth, but He does object to materialism (1 Tim. 6.10). There are people in the Bible that God made into very wealthy people (Abraham, Joseph, and Daniel). The Bible teaches us that (1) material things can be a sign of God's blessing, though they are not necessarily so, (2) We are accountable stewards of the wealth God gives us, and (3) We are responsible for others.

The Bible asks three questions about money:

  • How did you get it? (legally and justly or exploitatively?)
  • What are you doing with it? (indulging in luxuries or helping the needy?)
  • What is it doing to you?

Just like alcohol, money isn't bad in and of itself. It's the abuse of it where the danger lies. Money itself is neither here nor there. First, it says that money can really mess a person up, so beware its intrinsic dangers. Secondly, if you have it it doesn't mean that "God is blessing you," or if you don't have it, that "God is cursing you." If you have it, fine, as long you didn't do something corrupt to get it. But if you have it, use it for good, and share it generously, and help others with it, as well as provide for your family obligations. If you don't have it, don't be anxious about acquiring it, because money doesn't buy happiness, godliness, or long life. Learn to be content with what you have, and be responsible with it.

Some billionaires use their wealth to accomplish things that could be accomplished in no other way, donating heavily to hospitals, universities, social good, scientific research, etc. So we can't say justifiably say that all billionaires are just hoarding or that not instantly giving it all away is wrong.

> why do so many Christians seem to fight against sins that relate to matters of sexuality (i.e. promiscuity and homosexuality) whilst doing so little to fight the sin of avarice?

I'm not aware of many Christians fighting against sins of sexuality. Instead, I see the LGBTQ+ "community" engaging in many lawsuits and protests against Christians. Additionally, I've heard many pastors and preachers denounce avarice from the pulpit more than sexual sins.

So I don't know if you're just assuming a generalization that isn't accurate or if your personal experience is such that sexuality is a target whereas greed isn't. In either case, I'm not convinced it's true.
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Re: Are billionaires guilty of avarice?

Postby Syria » Sun Apr 19, 2020 10:37 am

It’s not only Christians and it’s not all Christians, but usually when it is a Christian, then they tend to fight the sin of sexuality in the name of Christianity. The generalisation is true insofar as it describes a trend, but obviously as you point out it is not a clear cut.

Re: Are billionaires guilty of avarice?

Postby jimwalton » Fri Nov 18, 2022 5:52 pm

Yes, I agree that my moral objection to various sexual lifestyles and behavior is the Bible. But I don't fight against sexual sins outside the Church. The sexual law codes in the Bible were written for followers of God. In the Old Testament, it was written for Israel, not for any other nation. In the New Testament, it's written for believers, not for anyone else. It's not my place to judge those outside of the church for their moral choices. (Obviously, I'm against murder, rape, theft, etc.) If someone is sleeping around, I think that's wrong, but I'll keep it to myself. If a Christian is sleeping around, that's a different matter, and there should be some conversation. So, yes, I would disapprove sexual sin in the name of Christianity, but it's an in-house thing. What a non-Christian does in that sense is not my business (1 Corinthians 5.12-13).

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