In the previous blog, we talked about the responsibilities that investors bear when choosing how and where to invest their money. Some may say that investing is morally neutral ground – that the actions of businesses we invest in are not directly our responsibility, especially if we are far removed from the decision-making processes at play. However, the Bible teaches us a different lesson that we should pay close attention to if we want to serve the Kingdom of Heaven.
In Galatians 5:14, Paul gives us the most important law we as Christians are supposed to follow.
“The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
We are supposed to live our lives through this lens of love, compassion, and goodwill for the world around us. This law is also supposed to reign over everything else. No matter what mistakes we make or challenges we face, God asks us to live our lives with love and consideration for our community above all.
This is where the idea of responsible investing comes into play. If we knowingly invest in businesses that extract value rather than create it, we are not following God’s command. A business that extracts natural resources irresponsibly, extracts labor in an unfair manner for profit, or extracts value from customers using deceptive marketing tactics is failing to follow that command. As investors, we are therefore responsible if we knowingly invest in these businesses, especially if other options are available.
To illustrate this point, let’s look at a real-world example that shows how and why we are responsible for the outcomes of our investments:
In the mid 19th century, maternity wards in hospitals had extremely high mortality rates, and nobody could pinpoint exactly why. Physician Ignaz Semmelweis at the General Hospital noticed that women who were under the care of doctors and medical students had a much higher chance of developing fatal complications than mothers who were cared for by midwives or birthed from home. With the medical information they had at the time, this didn’t add up.
Semmelweis soon realized that the primary difference between the care of the doctors and midwives was not what they did in the delivery room, but what they did outside that mattered. While the midwives only worked with women and children all day, the doctors and medical students were also performing autopsies and treating other sick patients in the hospital.
He correctly hypothesized that the doctors were bringing in germs from outside into the maternity ward, which would cause complications. Semmelweis promptly asked doctors and students to wash their hands before and after every procedure, and the rates of mortality and child fever in the maternity wards dropped almost immediately.
You would assume that this medical discovery would be welcomed with open arms, but the story becomes much more interesting and exemplifies exactly how greed can tempt even the most caring of individuals.
When Semmelweis proved that the child fever and postpartum mortality were caused by the doctors’ hygienic practices, many of them turned on him. He was soon fired from his position at the General Hospital in Vienna, and many doctors around Europe abandoned the handwashing practice despite evidence supporting Semmelweis’s theory. They were embarrassed and angry that Semmelweis had pointed the responsibility at them, and instead of wanting what was best for their patients, they chose to protect their reputations instead.
Our question to you is simple: Were the doctors responsible for the deaths of their patients before they knew about the germ theory? What about after?
We don’t blame people for actions that were made with misinformation, but once you are informed, you become responsible for acting with that information in the best manner you can. The same applies to investors and how they use the information they have about certain industries and companies.
If a company you invest in is using value extraction strategies to gain profits quickly, would you walk away or turn the other cheek? Or, to answer a deeper question:
Would you choose the Kingdom of God or Money if given the choice?
Want to learn more? Let’s talk.