The Sin of consumerism
Consumerism is defined as, “the promotion of the consumer’s interests” and “the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable”. Those two definitions are at the foundation of American greed. This is not a pro-communist, or socialist, agenda. This is to call out Americans, including Christians in America, that have tendencies to consume more than they should, let alone need. Here are two examples of rampart consumerism in the United States:
Overeating – The average person in an industrialized nation consumes 3,440 Calories per day. That is well over what the average male in the United States needs (2,500 calories). Obesity and its’ associated health risks cost the United States billions of dollars a year. It has become its own industry worth almost 150 billion dollars a year. By consuming more than what is needed, resources (money, time, land use, and energy) are allocated inefficiently. These lost and misallocated resources contribute to pollution, climate change, hunger, deforestation, and systematic global poverty.
Overspending – The average household in the United States has over $130,000 in debt. Debt, to a certain extent, may be good for the economy, but it makes Christians slaves to money. It fills houses with unneeded rooms full of unneeded possessions at the cost of chaining people to them. Climate change is directly related to overspending due to the excess purchases, and replacement of those excess expenditures, that is allowed. By buying bigger and bigger things and replacing those things more and more often, it creates a massive amount of energy and material waste that could be utilized elsewhere or conserved; not to mention the increase in landfill trash associated with disposing of all the prematurely replaced items and outdated possessions of last season.
Needs look different for all people, there is no easy, cookie-cutter way of deciding who needs what. A family of six will need more than a family of three. That does not mean that both families should be content to that fact. It is an easy cope-out to for the family of six to say they will require more than the smaller family, so they do not try to change their habits to cut back; while the family of three might have a temptation to consume more because of how much less they are consuming than the other family.
Consumerism is something that every Christian should critically evaluate in their lives. Not a comparison between people, but an honest searching of their own hearts; seeking to root it out at its core (Romans 6:6).
Christians need to be aware of what the world is selling to them, because vanity, greed, and gluttony in the name of consumerism is sinful. Stopping wasteful purchases and indulgences is not easy - it is worthy of doing though. Don’t let world go by due to distractions, choose to be diligent and awake, making the most of our time, resources, and abilities (Ephesians 5:16).
For resources on how to fight consumerism, check out General Resources or an article about steps people can take to combat the things that influence climate change.