Is it sinful to live in luxury?

Even though I’m Catholic I occasionally watch YouTube videos from a Protestant Evangelist named Anita Fuentes. The anti-Catholic and flat out factually incorrect things she says I can deal with (I’m a Catholic convert from Baptist Protestantism myself). I watch her instead because I like her fire in occasional agreement with Holy Mother Church.

But recently she has come under fire by a multitude of other Protestants for living in a $1 million+ home in California from the donations of her ministry’s subscribers. I see no issue with this, she has her own following and they believe in what she’s saying and were helped by it. Why can’t they give her money and bless her family with luxuries? But these Protestants are saying it’s a waste, I don’t know the Church’s stance on this though about luxurious lifestyles of evangelists. Is it sinful for them to live in luxury?

Is it sinful? - No.

It’s not the absolute amount of money or possessions that is sinful; it is being attached to these things and valuing them above God which is sinful (or failing to be charitable when one has an abundance). Sin is, by definition, turning away from God and towards a lesser good.

That is why a king can live a regal lifestyle, but still be devout and charitable and remain without sin in this matter, while an ordinary middle-class man who is inordinately attached to his material possessions and holds on to them selfishly can, in fact, be in a state of sin.

The failure to understand this, and to conflate simple measurable wealth with a sinful attachment to it, or a lack of charity, has led to much misunderstanding in the area of Catholic social teaching, with some simplistically believing that taxing the rich or the middle class is authentic Catholic doctrine. :stuck_out_tongue:

(Yes, it’s tax time here. Does it show? :D)

It is not sinful to have money…it is what you do with this money is what makes it sinful.

But the act itself, of having or wanting a Huge mansion, flashy, expensive cars, imo, that would be sinful, what other reason besides ‘status’ would there for a normal size family to live in a 8000 sqft or larger home?

There are many folks like this at our parish, as this area is fairly well to do, People buy these mansions usually to impress others, or to inflate their ego, not because they have 14 kids and need the room, its all about status, same thing with driving around in a $75K SUV with all the amenities, NO ONE actually ‘needs’ things like that.

If someone is clergy or is working in a ministry, and especially if a person is living off donations from the poor, that person is held to a higher standard.

If a house is also being used to do church business, like fundraising parties, or office space, there may be legit reasons.

In general, a rich person is given money by God in order for him to use it for the benefit of the Church, the poor, his employees and business associates, etc. St. Clement of Alexandria had a good book about this, which you can read in translation. It is called, “Can the Rich Man Be Saved?” A person who uses and invests money can be serving God faithfully, like the good servants in the Parable of the Talents.

On the other hand, the “prosperity gospel” idea that a person is more holy and blessed if his followers pay donations to give him limousines - that is wrong. I understand that it does give vicarious pleasure to such a person’s followers, but that does not make it right. If you take money from the poor, the goal should be something important and lasting, not something frivolous and worldly.

and what you DON’T do with it!

Luxuries are not a blessing. Jesus made that clear in the parable of The Rich Young Man.

Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time taught that being rich was a blessing, and conversely, being ill or poor meant you had done something bad to deserve it. This way of thinking is absolutely false. I’ve heard Protestant preachers on TV elude to this concept of, “All I have to do is be righteous, and I won’t fall ill, or fall poor through misfortune.”

The Protestants who oppose this preachers use of money are correct. Taking money, to buy luxuries for yourself, from those who you are spreading a false gospel to…well, that’s wrong.

Mt 10
Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts;
no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep.

Is it sinful? - Not my call. God will judge her actions.

Is it wise? - This would be a matter of opinion. In my opinion, the ratio between the donations she receives and what she keeps would be the defining point between her having a ministry that serves others or serves herself. According to her bio her ministry is now 6 years old. To me it takes most businesses 1 to 3 years to become profitable so her needing to keep the majority of the donations in those years would be acceptable. However, now that it is year 6 if more than 25% of the donations is going to support her lifestyle I would say her ministry is set up for her financial benefit, with her main goal to bring in more donors, instead of bring more people to God.

Just my 2 cents in how it would appear to me.

Under the Old Covenant, God the Father assured peace and prosperity (read: long lives, many children, reliable rainfall) to his obedient followers.

Under the New Covenant, this is no longer the case.

Luxuries may have been blessings in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament and beyond, luxuries are just luxuries; innately neutral: becoming good or bad based on their applications.

Read this section of the Catechism:

Also see Pauls Letter 6:17-21

And the letter of James - chapter 5 to the rich…they keep wages from their laborers and engaged in fraud…(not saying though a particular Protestant minister is doing such…).

Again read the post just above and Paul.

It all comes down to values. Luxury is dangerous because we can come to value it more than how much we value God’s unseen Kingdom. I’ll take what I absolutely need and despise the riches.

Is a $1 million home in California “luxury”?

I am not going to judge the lifestyles of people who have a different faith than mine because it is none of my business.

My understanding of Church Doctrine: It depends on how we spend our money and our attachment to money. Do we use our resources for the betterment of society and help to raise the poor.

Also, keep in mind, beautiful expensive items are created by people who need to make money. Buying beautiful expensive items provide jobs. So, fortunately, it is up to God to decide who is or who is not using their resources in responsible charitable manner.

P.S. Also, running a large expensive home involves hiring a staff - jobs!

Now, is the owner paying a fair wage or not, becomes the issue of responsible stewardship or using people unfairly.

To paraphrase on of my favorite quotes:

The things one does for oneself do not matter. When you die they are gone and forgotten.

However, the things you do for others do matter and they will live on in others when you are gone.

Thus, hoarding/hogging all of this luxury without being kind and generous to others would indeed be “sinful” if that’s what you want to call it. Life is short, you can’t take it with you, so spend, give to others and be charitable. Make that camel super small to fit in that eye of the needle :wink:

It isn’t a sin to live in luxury, but when you are a leader of a Protestant ministry and are receiving donations, I think people expect you to live a more poor life with any donations coming in to go towards the ministry or be given as alms, not to be used for any luxuries for yourself. A one million dollar home in California, at least in my area, is not what I consider luxury. A decent two-story house can easily go over a million dollars.

It is not, especially in LA or northern California.

You are right, in mans eyes, it is not luxury, but in Gods opinion…? We only assume he will feel the same way about these things, but I have a sneaky feeling most of us (myself included), are going to be in for a big surprise regarding some things we do not think twice about in the modern world or are just ‘normal’ part of daily life.

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