Moralistic consumerism

Methodist minister Morgan Guyton has written a post entitled “Six Ways that Capitalism Fails the Church.”  His main point has to do not so much with free market economics as with the way the marketing and consumer mentality is distorting how churches operate.  I don’t agree with a great deal of what he says, but after the jump, I quote him on what he calls “moralistic consumerism.”

From Morgan Guyton, Six ways that capitalism fails the church | Mercy Not Sacrifice:

2) Capitalism fails the church when consumerism becomes a moralistic obligation

It really hit me recently how the greatest competitor, at least among middle-class people, to the kind of kingdom living that church is supposed to instill is not greed or gluttony or laziness, but moralistic consumerism. The reason that so few Christians tithe is not because they’re spending their money on booze and bon-bons. It’s because they’ve been indoctrinated with the sense that “responsible” people save all that they can for retirement and their children’s college education. It feels like a reckless indulgence to throw a bunch of money at God when there are so many things that could happen to you that would leave your family destitute. The same principle applies to the Sunday travel soccer leagues. Middle-class churchgoers who only make church once a month because of travel soccer or Boy Scout campouts or other children’s obligations are not playing hookey as an act of liberating mischief; they’re doing what they feel obligated to do as “responsible” parents, and church simply doesn’t feel as obligatory as their children’s other activities. All of this is part of a middle-class existence that is defined by a guilt-ridden moralistic consumerism. We are guilt-tripped into “doing our homework” for all our purchasing decisions, such as buying bread that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup or switching over to almond milk because of the latest research on the impact of dairy milk on children’s development. Nothing is wrong with any particular purchasing decision, but they all add up and create a monstrous system of worship that competes with our ability to rest in Christ.

HT:  Mary Moerbe

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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