“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.” — Dorothy Parker

Bible and MoneyYesterday, I made my thrice-yearly pilgrimage to the Temple of the Ever Expanding Consumption of Goods… also known as South Coast Plaza, the mall of the rich and beautiful in Orange County, California.

The occasion was to find the perfect outfit for my 40th birthday party that will take place next weekend. Since I broke my promise to Jeanine and didn’t shed those extra ten pounds, money at least will help me cover up the love handles up and provide the illusion of looking fabulous. I spared no expense and broke all budget rules yesterday. No apologies offered. This was a fashion emergency. Enough said.

Allow me to segue: and note my utter amazement at the number of Americans buying things at the mall. The place was packed. And it was just an innocent Sunday afternoon. No sales. No pending holiday. Just thousands of people spending their money on stuff.

Is this the reason why so many people are in debt? I dislike shopping but obviously I’m an anomaly. It appears that people actually enjoy it and if you enjoy something but don’t have the means to afford it, then I can understand how people get in trouble with credit card debt.

Debt is a burden for millions of Americans. This is where I have to give the Christians an A+ for trying to help eliminate this ill of our consumerism culture. Yesterday, John Leland wrote an article in the New York Times called Turning to Churches or Scripture to Cope With Debt.

He writes, “As Americans have run up nonmortgage debt of more than $2.4 trillion, churches and Christian radio stations are supplementing their spiritual counseling with financial counseling, often using programs developed by other Christian organizations and marketed in church circles or over the Internet. They offer a mix of basic budget planning, household cost-cutting and debt management, bolstered by Scripture and with tithing as a goal.”

These were the three programs mentioned: Crown Financial Ministries, the Good Sense Stewardship Ministry, and The Financial Peace program, a curriculum promoted by radio host, Dave Ramsey.

One financial expert who reviewed the materials of The Financial Peace program said the advice was “fundamentally sound,” especially for people with low or middle incomes.

The programs resemble secular plans, with two exceptions, bankruptcy and giving. But this aside, they offer similar advice that you might garner from any number of personal finance bestsellers. By packaging it up and offering it in a “small group” ministry there’s a sense of accountability and community, not unlike a 12-Step or Weight Watchers meeting.

Perhaps the queers could learn a lesson here and create a course offered at gay and lesbian centers across America. Many financial advisors already hold seminars at these locations but their intent is primarily to find new clients. We need a program that equips young gays and lesbians with knowledge to become good financial stewards. As the Christians understand, when you empower people with the tools and means to save, well, eventually, they have money to give. Leave it to the Christians to perfect this fundraising strategy. God love em!