We have huge national debt. This debt serves as a sorry indication that we no longer read the Bible or take it seriously.
Most of this discussion on borrowing comes from the Old Testament. What follows are some of the relevant verses and passages.
Deuteronomy 15 begins with a discussion on cancelling loans made to other Jews. However, Jews were not required to forgive loans made to foreigners. If they obeyed the Lord, they were to rule over them.
Deuteronomy 15:6 (Today’s New International Version)
For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.
Deuteronomy 28 enumerates the blessings for obedience. That includes:
Deuteronomy 28:12-14 (Today’s New International Version)
The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.
Deuteronomy 28 also enumerates the curses for disobedience.
Deuteronomy 28:43-44 (Today’s New International Version)
The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail.
In one simple verse, Proverbs explains why we should avoid debt.
Proverbs 22:7 (Today’s New International Version)
The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is slave to the lender.
The Bible explicitly prohibits usury. In fact, the Bible takes a markedly dim view of the matter.
Exodus 22:25-27 (Today’s New International Version)
“If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it by sunset, because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can your neighbor sleep in? When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
Leviticus 25:36-37 (Today’s New International Version)
Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that your poor neighbors may continue to live among you. You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit.
Ezekiel 18:12-13 (Today’s New International Version)
He oppresses the poor and needy.
He commits robbery.
He does not return what he took in pledge.
He looks to the idols.
He does detestable things.
He lends at interest and takes a profit.
Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head.
In fact, we are suppose to be generous even to our enemies.
Luke 6:32-36 (Today’s New International Version)
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
What lesson should we take from these verses? During ancient times and times not so long ago, people enslaved each other. In fact, if you did not pay your debts, you risked slavery. As a practical matter, the practice of slavery continues. Where authoritarian governments rule, the elite live on the backs of the poor.
In our nation, we have made the most vile practices associated with usury, a tool of enslavement, illegal. Nonetheless, as a nation, we have greatly indebted ourselves to foreigners. This debt indicates two things.
- We are buying more than we produce. Since we are supposedly a rich people, this profligate behavior demonstrates a severe lack of national self-discipline. Even the prodigal son had better sense than to divert himself with borrowed money.
- We have become dependent upon the goodwill of foreigners. Will these foreigners rule over us? Is that not effectively what we are asking them to do.