Investing in Sin

Investing in sin actually sounds like a pretty good idea. Sin has been a growth industry for several thousand years now. A new exchange traded fund now makes it easy to capitalize on the Fall of Adam & Eve. The FocusShares ISE SINdex Fund is available under the ticker symbol PUF.

There are, of course, endless varieties of sin. The SINdex fund buys the stock of companies in the alcohol, tobacco, and gambling sectors. This is where I begin to question the strategy. Are alcohol, tobacco, and gambling actually sins? If you ask a Southern Baptist, the answer will be “Yes.” Other Christian traditions take a more nuanced view.

Alcohol is obviously not an intrinsic evil; Christ himself turned water into wine. Yet drunkenness – the abuse of alcohol – is clearly condemned in Scripture. So the production of alcoholic beverages is not sinful, unless the producer is specifically trying to make people drunk. Alcohol manufacturers are no more responsible for the misuse of their products than gun manufacturers are for the misuse of guns.

The same can be said for tobacco. Yes, the human body is God’s temple and we have a duty to maintain it as best we can. Where do we draw this line? Big Macs aren’t good for you, either. As far as I can tell, McDonald’s isn’t in the SINdex fund. As with alcohol, moderate use of tobacco products isn’t sinful, nor is it sinful to produce and sell them.

What about gambling? We are obliged to make wise use of whatever money God gives us. We have a duty to our families and all those who are sick and poor. Yet it is not a sin to have fun. If someone has enough money to cover all their other responsibilities and finds gambling to be a pleasant diversion, it is no more sinful than playing golf or watching TV.

Given all this, it seems that the SINdex fund is probably guilty of false advertising. It does not invest in sin at all. If you want to invest in real sin, here is a good example. Producing drugs that are specifically designed to kill unborn babies is clearly sinful. Sadly, it is also very profitable.

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