John Steward of Jesus
  The "Good News" (Gospel) > Archives > Thoughts on Liberty > Christian morality and consumption

Christian morality and consumption

November 4, 1980 ("Election" Day)

In this age of consumption and of the consumer, it seems that Christian ethics and morality, and the search for Christian “justice,” have focused all attention on consumption, rather than balancing it with an emphasis on production. Those who consume are condemned, regardless of how much they have produced. Those condemned most are those seen as consuming more than others. This is thought to be unjust. The task of government is thought to include the regulation (rationing?) of consumption, the passing out of the wealth, so that all may share. Thus, the villains are those who have big houses, big cars, etc. Little judgment is reserved for those who produce nothing and consume their share nevertheless.

When production is considered, it is confused with monetary income, with having a job, preferably a job in which one helps to promote “justice” by assuring the “poor” that they will get their fair share. Thus one in a position which adds absolutely nothing to the national, or community, wealth, may be praised even while consuming his share of the remaining wealth. If his work is seen as promoting equity, this may even be seen as excusing extra consumption, as seen in the well-furnished offices of some welfare managers.

A focus on production leads to prosperity. A focus on consumption leads to shortages and famine.