***DISCLAIMER***The following is not an exhaustive post. Instead, it makes a best effort to answer the question.
Recently I was asked if it was ok to invest in a mutual fund that may have a few non-Christian stocks such as casinos, alcohol, cigarettes and pornography. Apparently, it is so hard, if not impossible, to find a fund that does not contain one of the bad stocks. Some funds have up to 500 companies. Furthermore, it is supposedly hard to screen all of them. 499 of them may be decent and one of them may be bad. Often, all the companies are not listed. This Christian investor wanted to invest in a company known as FREL. This individual worries it might includes casinos and the like. He wants to know what to do.
Scripture is silent on various matters. This includes but is not limited to whether or not a Christian investor should invest in mutual funds that may have a few or more non-Christian stocks such as casinos, alcohol, cigarettes and the like.
Despite the silence, several Scriptures can help a Christian investor make a decision regarding this matter. The apostle Paul states in Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (NASB). Everything a Christian does is to glorify God. Paul also said something similar in 1 Corinthians 10:23-31:
23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
While investing in a mutual fund with non-Christian stocks is lawful, does it edify? Does it do good to neighbor? Does it glorify God? Doing such a thing on the surface appears to seek after one’s own good more than either edifying the body of Christ or serving a neighbor, especially if the mutual fund has non-Christian stocks. While God’s Word does not condemn cigarettes, alcohol, pornography or casinos verbatim in Scripture (for none of the words are found verbatim in Scripture), none of those activities glorify God on their own, especially if abused (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 & 20; Romans 13:13-14; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:3).
A better question to ask may be why one would invest in a mutual fund. One needs to weigh the objective in investing in such a thing, especially if this thing involves aspects that are primarily non-Christian. While the intentions of investing in such a fund may be good, it is possible the matter could be more earth-centered than heaven-centered. Jesus Christ had something to say about how one stores up treasures in Matthew 6:19-24 (NASB):
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
There is nothing unlawful about investing in a mutual fund, regardless of whether or not the fund has non-Christian stocks. However, the Christian investor really needs to consider whether or not doing such a thing glorifies God or self (or even the world) more. If it serves God more by loving neighbor and/or caring for the family while at the same time having no non-Christian stocks, then that is great (Matthew 22:39; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:8, 14; Galatians 5:14; 1 Timothy 5:8). However, if it serves the self more (and especially if it is proven that the mutual fund has non-Christian stocks), then doing such a thing would not be beneficial for the Christian investor.