Published on 7/27/2022
Is Stock Market Investing Moral?
Short Answer: It Depends.
A few things to think about when determining if an investment is moral…
- Does my investment promote the common good? Make sure your investment is not directly or even sufficiently indirectly funding or supporting things like pornography, abortion, contraception, human trafficking, child labor, transgender ideology, critical race theory or any of the like.
- Is the investment involved in the type of speculation that is condemned by the church? Meaning speculation on the value of goods that is a detriment to others. Think Pump and dump schemes in the stock and crypto worlds.
- What is the intention of the individual when investing? Are you out to just make money at whatever cost? Are you investing because it promotes a common good and is potentially beneficial from a personal financial perspective? Is investing with the sole purpose to make money a bad thing for you because you struggle with greed?
- Are you knowledgeable about the investment? Do you know what your money is being used for and who is benefitting from it? Can you actively participate in your investment or is there no room for your input?
These four points are good litmus tests that can help you understand whether an investment is moral or not. Let’s put them into practice through some real-world examples. All below examples are of course hypothetical and strictly for teaching purposes.
EXAMPLE 1: Investing in the individualized stock of Cameco Energy (CCJ) a Nuclear Energy/Uranium company.
You believe that nuclear energy is an efficient, cheap and sustainable way to provide energy to the world and you want to promote it for the benefit of the world. You also want to be prudent and make an investment that will help you provide for your family and give more generously to worthwhile causes.
You do your research and find out that CCJ is not donating to abortion clinics or supporting any other nefarious activities in any major ways. You also feel confident in their financial direction and leadership.
Therefore, you choose to invest in CCJ with the intentions of making money and promoting the common good. As an added bonus you actively participate in shareholder meetings and monitor the company to make sure nothing illicit is going on.
If all these parameters of doing your research (working), actively monitoring and participating (more work), intentionally promoting the common good are met, then C3 believes it is morally acceptable to invest in such a company as CCJ.
EXAMPLE 2: Investing in a 401K, ETF, or Mutual Fund. We will use an ETF for our example, but ETF could be taken out and replaced with 401K or Mutual Fund and the examples logic will still hold.
So, you are looking for a good ETF to invest in. First me must do our research and find an ETF that does not have any nefarious companies in its holdings. This means no abortion providers, cannabis companies, pornography producers or anything like that. Now we must make sure that the companies within the holdings are not funding in an egregious way things like abortion, contraception, human trafficking, …etc…
Okay, you have done the countless hours of research and by some miracle found an ETF that does not have any companies in it that are supporting or participating in nefarious activities. Man, you must have a lot of time on your hands, and you must be excellent at research!!! Good for you! So, it is okay to invest in this ETF now, right? Well, not exactly.
What about that participatory and active monitoring we talked about in example 1? If you invest in this ETF, are you willing to constantly monitor it to make sure no unfavorable activities are going on? Even if you are willing to put in the countless hours to monitor the ETFs holdings, do you even have a chance to make your voice heard within the ETF? This is not like Example 1 where you own shares of CCJ and can call the hotline on the company website and speak to a representative.
Okay, so it’s a lot of work to make sure that and ETF is moral, and it does not really give you the ability to participate in any real way, but does all this make it immoral to invest in an ETF? Well, let’s say you do the research, and you don’t miss any ethical red flags and you are not convinced by the participatory side of the moral investing argument, I suppose it would be moral for you to invest in such an ETF then.
However, the chances that all the companies with an ETF are moral and promoting the common good are slim and the chances that you are that proficient at research are also slim. Not to mention that within an ETF you are helping the maker of that ETF more than you are actually helping the companies within it. This is not to say that you are not helping the companies at all because you absolutely are, but it is a point to think about.
One more point to think about when investing in an ETF is your intention? The support of the common good is minimized when investing in an ETF (Even if all the companies are supporting the common good) and your potential risk is also minimized. So, it would seem that investing an ETF is sacrificing the common good play for more of a chance to reap a healthy ROI.
The bottom line, it is possible to morally invest in an ETF (we think) but it is a difficult task to say the least. Side Note: With employer sponsored 401Ks, and similar investment products, the ability to do work/research is also eliminated which makes the case even stronger that those investments are not moral from a Christian Ethic.
EXAMPLE 3: Investing in Microsoft (MSFT)
You want to buy some MSFT stock. MSFT has strong financials and is a global leader in what they do. Investing in MSFT seems to be a no brainer when it comes to Long-term investing. Now it is time to do your research on the moral side of things.
MSFT does do some good in the world by connecting people and making work more efficient and generating jobs and money in places that may not otherwise have jobs and money. But they also participate in some sketchy business regarding data mining and privacy of its users. They also use Child Labor in China to create their products and they donate heavily to abortion clinics around the world. Also, they seem to sponsor charities that are directly opposed to Christian charities.
It would seem that some of their everyday business practices could be for the common good, but the means they use to cultivate their business are a bit nefarious. As Christians we know that the end can never justify the means. Also, their extracurricular activities seem to be in opposition to Christian teachings and morals (Think funding abortion and the values of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation).
The moral case for investing into Microsoft seems pretty bleak. But wait, maybe you could buy some shares and voice your opinion on the shareholder meetings and get them to change their ways!! To that, we say great idea Mr. Musk and we are very glad you’re an active reader of C3 content. Our point being that a few shares of a company that so blatantly operates in opposition to Christian beliefs will not give you a loud enough voice to enact change, but hey maybe you have the ability to buy 10%-15% of MSFT and really give some weight to your voice. If you are of that ability and want to make changing MSFT your mission, then by all means. It’s at least worth a shot!
Given the right or wrong parameters any legitimate mainstream investment tool can be moral or immoral. A stock or any other asset becomes immoral if it does nefarious things counter to Christian beliefs. Also, an otherwise moral vehicle for investment (and the assets within) can be made immoral if the intention of the investor is just to make money for vanity’s sake.
If enough research is done (though this is unlikely) and the assets are moral and supporting the common good and your honest about your own intentions then even ETFs and 401ks can be moral investments. They have not been condemned by the Church in any official way and we cannot deny the financial prosperity that has taken place since the inception of the modern-day stock market and the tools within like ETFs and 401K’s.
Companies receiving lines of credit because of the public market have enabled those companies to expand their operations which have led to more people being fed, clothed, and sheltered than ever before in human history. Financial prosperity is not in of itself an evil. But the Human race so often makes it an evil because we lose sight on what matters. We end up treating money as an end rather than a tool that exists among many tools, all of which play unique roles in obtaining the one true end, sainthood.
I personally choose not to invest in 401Ks and ETFs at the moment because I believe it to be too tall of a task to find a moral one and monitor it the way I think an investor should. I do hold certain individual stocks and cryptos because I believe they have true utility for the common good and I genuinely want to support them. No investment is perfectly moral, because we live in Satan’s playground and nothing is perfect in this world. But we must at least give the world of investing some thought before we blindly engage in it. There is no doubt in my mind that in a perfect world we would not need the stock market because families and communities would always provide for each other. However, in a perfect world we would not need doctors or adoption either and no one is ever questioning the good of adopting a child or becoming a good physician.
Starting a business, or choosing to invest in an already established business in your community is probably more moral than investing in the stock market or precious metals or cryptos. Yet, just because one thing is more moral than the other does not make the other immoral.
There is no clear right answer when it comes to how Christians should invest, but the one thing I am certain of is that we as the Body of Christ need to think more critically and pray more fervently about the issue of investing.
Doing ethics research to make sure the investment is promoting the common good, doing financial research to make sure it is not a scheme and that you’re being a good steward of your God given capital, and continuous monitoring are what makes an investment moral. If these criteria are met then you are probably in the clear, if not then it is best to avoid that particular investment.
Buying Land, Cryptos, and Precious Metals are all individually unique regarding their ethics. But each of these investments can be morally justified depending on the same factors laid out in this short write-up.
Remember that intention is everything. This does not mean that it is okay to invest in MSFT if my intention is to use the profits to start a pregnancy crisis center, the ends never justify the means! What is meant by saying intention is everything is that your root intention for investing in asset should be that that asset in some way promotes the common good. I invest in Cryptos because I believe them to be better for the world at large because fiat currencies are run by corrupts governments and are constantly manipulated. I invest in Land because it is good for my family to own and work our own property and because it is a safeguard against corrupt fiat currencies. I invest in Precious Metals and other raw materials because they are useful and can have practical purposes if the world goes “dark.” It is not morally acceptable if I am just investing in these things because I want to make more money at a later date and do not give any thought to any other aspect of investing in them. The sole pursuit of money for moneys sake is what feeds the enemy’s camp in our ever increasingly secular world. The same principles are applied to starting a business. If I start a restaurant solely because I want to make money, then my intention is immoral. However, If I start the same restaurant and I have the intentions of bringing people together and feeding people with good nourishing food then my intention is moral. The problem with this line of thinking is it requires a dishonest population to be honest with themselves.
Please let us know your thoughts below!! God Bless and remember Christus Rex!
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