I was reading a friend's blog post yesterday on misunderstandings about consumerism and it got me thinking about an idea that has been swimming in the back of my mind for a while. This is a repost of a comment in response to his post.
I think that a lot of times Christians concerned with materialism can get on such a guilt trip about materialism that they refrain from purchasing an item, but they don’t necessarily use the opportunity as a means to offset the socioeconomic divide, both in our culture and in foreign cultures. I do this myself from time to time. I give, but couldn’t I give more?
What if the average person decided, instead of abandoning their materialistic tendencies cold turkey (which is hard enough to do anyway), why not adopt a hybrid lifestyle? Why not make a pact to donate X% of a material purchase toward making a difference in someone else’s life? For example, if you’re buying that iPod (which I would say, look to the alternatives) for yourself, why not commit to spending 10% more as a wealth tithe (or tithe tax, whatever you’d like to call it) to support the homeless or the social injustices in the world? Now, whenever you make a non-essential purchase, you are committing yourself to making a difference.
Sure, others might still try to judge you, but the truth is that if you adopted this practice, you may likely be exhibiting a more giving attitude than the naysayers. Additionally the idea of a tithe tax could serve to curb some of your materialistic tendencies, while encouraging you to be giving. Essentially, you’re allowing yourself to begin the journey of seeing and acting on the needs of others, instead of standing with the iPod in one hand and child sponsorship brochure in another.
And now, to practice what I preach.