Is it a sin to buy expensive things?


#1

Is it a sin to buy expensive things? Especially if you can afford them? Like for say you buy an expensive pair of designer shoes or something along those lines, and you buy it for yourself, not to show off, not to gloat or boast, but just because the item is good quality and fashionable and you really like it and can afford it? Is that a sin? I have a really guilty conscience, and this item I want to buy is used and costs around 200-300 dollars, and don’t know if what I’m doing is a sin? I’ve read other posts on here and none give a clear answer.


#2

If you are prone to scruples, and it sounds lie you are, then you need regular spiritual direction from your pastor not random questions and answers from the Internet.

It is not intrinsically evil to purchase something that is “expensive”. That is a subjective situation, it is an area of prudential judgment.


#3

It’s not sinful if it’s practical: being rich is not in and of itself a sin. The story of Job starts out with him being both very pious AND very wealthy.

Just try to avoid decadence. For example, eating food with Gold Leafs IS sinful, because eating gold is extremely wasteful and adds nothing to the meal (you can’t taste it, you can’t digest it, and it provides no nutrient value).


#4

It is not intrinsically evil to purchase something that is “expensive”. That is a subjective situation, it is an area of prudential judgment.

1ke is right. Yet it seems you’re looking for a definitive answer, which indeed - as 1ke alludes to - is hard since there’s many things to take into account. What can be provided to you is general principles which you can apply to your specific situation. But I’ll try and apply them to your specific occasion.

-It is not a sin in itself to buy something ‘generally expensive’. But if something was very expensive, and unnecessarily so, like a car worth 2 million dollars - this would be sinful. Would it be an objective mortal sin? One cannot say definitively, but it could be, if in one’s immediate context there were starving people and despite this one ‘wasted’ such money that could have at least been partly used to help them. If the same amount of money was spent on a house - it wouldn’t be so bad.

-Although it may not be sinful to buy something expensive, it can still be an imperfection. Thus habitually buying fancy things would be an imperfection - compared to the perfection of being more simple and modest, but it might not be at all sinful - neither venial or mortal.

In your situation, $200-300 shoes, judging on the surface I would say that should be fine and it certainly would not be sinful. It would be at least a venial sin for a religious brother to do so, who is vowed to poverty; but if you’re a layman in the world it seems such shoes would be fine. Some jobs require good quality suits and shoes. Avoid ostentatiousness, but a few expensive accessory items (if it’s not for vanity’s sake) - without going overboard - is totally okay.

In the end, you’re sincere. Form your conscience (asking is one way like you are now), and speak to a trusted spiritual person, and you’ll know what is sinful in your heart.


#5

I make it a simple rule. Would Jesus be happy that I had purchased this? I love cars. I would love to own a really fast car in the luxury line. I can afford one. However, I would no more buy one even if I won the lottery as I could not justify it to my Father when His children are starving somewhere in the world. I believe this is the same quandary that the Rich Young Man found himself in the Gospels. If you surrender yourself to riches you can lose your own soul. But it is not suggested that that man lost his soul, as Jesus looked as he left and loved him. He was still a good practising Jew but did not recognise Jesus as the Messiah. We don’t have that advantage. It is a subjective decision that must come from within your relationship with the Lord. Like most middle class Australians I lead a safe affluent lifestyle, but I live only within the normal parameters of suburban living. Am I condemned because their are people starving in the Sudan? How much do I give to charity to assuage my conscience to allow me to live amongst my peers? No doubt the Lord will discuss this with me soon. But it is a conversation to be had with God. I doubt that others can assist.


#6

I buy expensive clothes because I teach, and I like to look good while I’m doing it, and doing other things, I must admit. I spend a lot on my hair, which is quite long. I also buy expensive food, i.e. organic and supplements because I want to stay healthy.

Sometimes I don’t buy expensive stuff. If the less expensive works as well, sometimes I go for that.

I think sin only enters the picture if we become too attached to our worldly goods, e.g., if I become so attached to my closet of expensive clothes that it takes precedence for me over things of the soul. Care of the soul and our relationship with God has to come first. Charity to others who can’t afford clothes and food is next, I think. But providing one and two are in place, I see no sin in liking expensive things as long as we can afford them.


#7

Matthew 19:24-28, Luke 3:11, 1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Peter 3:3
Read your Bible, its all there.

I think if you could literally save another person’s life with that money(food, medicine, temporary shelter), it shouldn’t go to materialism. We are called to live simply.


#8

I’m a Catholic Christian, and try to live it. We moved to a smaller, less expensive house, not out of financial necessity, but because we didn’t need the larger house…we have newer cars [Hondas] because we do need reliable, safe transportation. One thing we won’t scrimp on is medical care.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all have to be able to be able to discern wants from needs, and act accordingly.


#9

And attachment, too. People who are too attached to their expensive things, or even not-so-expensive things, are in the wrong.

It’s hard not to get attached, I admit that, but I try to practice that daily with regard to possessions. I’ve lost all my possessions twice due to natural disasters, and it wasn’t so bad. Possessions are, after all, replaceable. Maybe not right away, but with time.


#10

I would respect far more a teacher who dressed and lived simply if she were a practising Christian and that last phrase is the key here surely? Surely if we do not live the life in practical terms that Jesus exhorts and if we use and have more than we need and do not give what we do not need to others? It need not cost more to live and have good health. How can I morally feast when babies are dying for lack of any food or medical care? By living very simply , even with a small pension, I can help those who work to save lives. And live the love of Jesus joyfully and happily. As i do.


#11

And yet, even within “living simply” there is much prudential judgment. For instance:

I have some very expensive furniture (which I actually inherited, I didn’t buy it) which has lasted over 20 years because it is solid wood, very well made.

I have some very nice solid wood furniture that I bought and that was moderately expensive (made by the Amish in my community, so solid wood but discounted price).

I also have two reclining chairs I bought from a national “home furnishing” chain (you see on TV and trucks across the country) and these chairs were very inexpensive. They also have come apart and my DH has had to wire and rig them together. The faux leather has rubbed off in places, the “wood finish” has rubbed off in places. These chairs will be dumpster material within 5 years of purchase. I’m just waiting for them to come apart again. I’m keeping them until they no longer usable and then I’ll need to get some replacements.

But which was the “expensive” purchase? The really nice furniture I’ve had 20 years? The very nice furniture I’ve had 10 years? Or the “simple” furniture that’s falling apart after 2 years?

Seems to me the high quality, more up front cost is the better, durable and less expensive purchase in the long run.


#12

Resonating with your second para. I had to leave an abusive and dangerous situation with basically all I could carry and some sent on ahead and later. So I left my home with a duffle bag, a laptop and one of my cats. Literally fled. Oddly the things I missed were silly things, a casserole dish! Now I live simply through the love of Jesus; using and having nothing I need not, dressing simply and modestly and buying simple foods. I am over 70 now and have family working at the " coal face" of human need and am deeply fulfilled. My car ( needed as I live way out and alone) is old and was cheap, but it gets me from a to b. I honestly do not see it as an issue of attachment which really self centred but as straying from how we need to live to live our faith fully and wholly. My simplicity has purpose. My widows mite can and does give life to others, How much more life can a richer person give.


#13

That you have that choice! I live in cheap rentals. Badly furnished but adequate for simple needs. Happy with that and when it breaks I go to charity shops for replacements. Such a complicated argument


#14

I feel the best way to answer this question is to determine what it is we are buying and why we are buying. When looking for a home to buy, are you looking at the best home to fit the needs of your family; size, neighborhood, schools, commute to work and so on… Or are you seeking the house to make you appear richer, smarter, better than others. Cars would be the same.

Do you buy clothes to impress others or clothing that feels a practical need? I buy expensive clothes and shoes but I buy them all on sale, at least a 50% markdown. Since I retired a couple of years ago I buy very little in the way of clothing as I have a couple of closets full and don’t have the need to purchase work clothing. I have nice furniture, some that was quite expensive which I bought about 15 years ago. While it was a lot to pay initially I still have that furniture and may never need to replace it in my lifetime.

There are personal care items I may spend a little more on such as a nice perfume and good hair care products. I get a manicure & pedicure on a regular basis and spend a decent amount to get my hair cut.

However, none of these things gets in the way of giving to the Church or other charities and none of it impedes my ability to pay my financial obligations. Also I would have no problem setting it all aside if God called me to do so.


#15

It CAN be a SIGN of vanity. Do not think about it too much.


#16

Well I live in a 100 year old house, adequate for simple needs (as long as one of those needs is not level floors, plumb walls, or lack of mice).

I find that buying quality things once and keeping them for many years, even handing them down to descendants, is more prudent than buying cheap things I have to replace frequently.

You find the opposite to be true.

Since this is a prudential matter, we are both be correct in our choices for our own lives.


#17

Why ignore the part where I said giving to charity comes second in my life, after my personal relationship with Christ? I give away a lot of my salary to various charities.

Organic food is quite a bit more expensive than food filled with preservatives, and when I can afford organic, I’m going to eat it. If I’m dead, I won’t have any money to donate to the charities I now support. If I get sick and need care, I can’t work and someone is going to have to care for me. And I do tithe. I feel I’m doing my part financially for my church community, my diocese, and the world.

I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong idea. I don’t dress like a starlet on the red carpet! Far from it. I don’t want to dress that way, even if I could afford it. I dress pretty conservatively, and the clothes I buy last for years and years. I suppose, given their “shelf life,” I spend no more on clothes than if I were to buy less expensive ones that need replacing every year.

I’m sorry you have to live on a small pension. I know a lot of people who do, and maybe someday, I will be one of those persons. One never knows.


#18

The problems gained by such things is “claiming” them for self worthiness instead of trusting God’s love and truth.
The question is to ask yourself, can I accept losing everything I have today? If not, then material wealth and gain has been invested in for self worth.

All is okay if we can unconditionally let go too.


#19

Ok thank you for everyone’s responses, but now I’m wondering if it’s okay to even buy anything at all. It sounds like one should give every penny of what they earn away and buy/have nothing for themselves. I guess I should maybe ask a priest to see their stand on this topic, and the item I wanted to purchase was a used luxury brand duffle bag that I’ve wanted for years but could never afford until
Now, a duffle bag that I would be using to travel in the years to come.


#20

I’d buy it and not worry, but that’s me. You have to do what’s best for you, which might be to talk to a priest. Some diocesan priests, who do not take a vow of poverty, own expensive things themselves.

It’s not like you want an Armani Prive gown or a million dollar house or an entire wardrobe of clothes from Rodeo Drive. It’s one thing you’ve wanted for a long time. Sounds fine to me, but as I said, you have to do what’s best for you.

God bless.


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