Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Trick Question

Let me ask you a trick question. Do you want to be sick? Why not? The answer is obvious. We know that sickness leads to suffering and death. Why would we want to suffer? We know sickness is part of the Curse. We know that good health is part of the Blessing. Moral compunctions aside, we avoid behavior, like frequent unprotected sex with strangers, that we know is likely to make us ill. Who wants a Sexually Transmitted Disease? Is a drunken one night stand with some skank worth the potential of a death sentence? Governments enforce quarantines to restrict the movements of infected individuals in order to protect society at large.

Still we willingly expose ourselves to illness under some circumstances. If your child has flu, would you risk infection to care for your child?

Why don’t we think the same way about debt? God repeatedly warns his children to stay out of debt. In fact debt is part of the Curse. Just as the ability to loan money is listed as part of God’s Blessing. (Check out Deuteronomy 28 if you are interested.) Why then are we in such a hurry to put ourselves under something that God clear states is a curse?

There is no such thing as good debt. Scripture is abundantly clear on this point. There is ugly debt. Payday and title loans, instruments to exploit the poor and the ignorant charge up to an APR of 400%! They should be illegal. The misuse of credit cards isn’t much better. In the wrong hands they can become the financial equivalent of crack cocaine.

Then there is bad debt. Car notes and student loans are keeping the middle class in debt slavery for their entire working life.

Should we ever take on debt? I think there is such a thing as tolerable debt. If a loved one needs surgery, medical debt or even bankruptcy may be a consequence. None of us are such reprobates that we would stand by and let one of our children die in order to avoid debt. We all need to live somewhere. Unless you are very lucky you will need to take out a mortgage to buy a home. A loan may be the only way available to begin a new business.

Even under the most ideal circumstances, there is no example in Scripture of God blessing his people with debt. However, there are examples of God cursing wickedness with debt. This fact alone ought to make us pause whenever we consider taking on any debt.

I try to give the people the tools necessary to get out of debt whenever I present Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University at my church. I spend less time than I probably should warning the readers of this blog to stay out of debt. Avoiding debt is absolutely the most significant step you can take toward financial freedom. If your waking working hours are not spent servicing debt, then you can begin to save until you reach that happy day when you have enough to be free to pursue whatever is really important in your life without the distraction of a job that is necessary to pay your bills.

If you are working to service your debt, then you understand the meaning of God’s Word when it says, “The borrower is slave to the lender.”

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