One of the many things that has kept me from starting a Christian personal finance website to this point is the fact that I have been left wondering what is so unique about Christianity from other finances. Often, the token distinction between a Christian personal finance blog and just a regular old personal finance blog is the attention to one issue: tithing. Is this really the only distinction between a Christian personal finance blog and any other finance blog?
Before I dive into this question further, another question that haunts me is whether it makes a difference. Does it matter if Christian finance is unique? What I mean is that there seems to be a troubling exclusiveness to Christianity. Growing up in a Christian family, it is easy for me to say that this rings true with my experience. There is a constant need within some Christian communities to completely separate themselves from the rest of the world. Understanding these two issues will not only help me focus and share the direction of the site, but should also clear up some misconceptions about Christianity.
Does Christianity Need to be Exclusive?
The first of these two questions is then, whether Christianity needs to be exclusive. This issue arises out of a tradition that reinforces a false dualism. Many people have heard the terms sacred (or Christian) and secular. These are terms that have changed meanings over the years. Nowadays, these terms are used to apply strict labels to items, people, movements, etc. Have you ever heard of music being defined as secular?
Growing up in a Christian home, I was determined to listen to only “Christian” music. While I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time, it was along the assumption that this would make me a better Christian. Somehow, I understood the path or identity of a Christian to be one who separated him/herself from anything specifically Christian. This mentality stems out of this strict and false binary. It has to be either Christian or secular. There is no middle ground or shade of gray.
In the past few years, I have come to realize that the world is much more complicated than this simple division. I am reminded that I am not one to judge someone’s identity with strict labels. Instead, I have come to understand the complexity in which this world exists and thrives.
How do I Distinguish Christian Personal Finance from Personal Finance
If my understanding of the world is one that is complicated, without strict borders, the question naturally arises how to distinguish christian approach to personal finance. The question, “How is Christian finance different?” still echoes. The easy answer would be to continually emphasizing themes of giving, generosity, and compassion for those without. This is why Christian blogs often discuss tithing, or giving and using the Bible as a source of information. It is the easiest overlap of the two.
The more difficult answer would be that there isn’t always a distinction. Sometimes, the “Christian” financial advice is the same as advice that does not self-identify as Christian. The truth is that in managing your personal finances, everyone is forced to wrestle with questions that Christians also face. How much should I save for my future? Am I giving enough to help the world? Am I treating myself too much? Are my spending habits healthy? Even in using the Bible as a source, everyone is interpreting it in their own context…
Personal finances offers us a unique overlap with the Christian faith. Yet, at the same time – it is not exclusively Christian. Sometimes the need to be exclusive is more of a deterrent than anything else. Perhaps the need to separate or distinguish Christian personal finance is all in vain.