by Robert Arvay
If he has exacted usury Or taken increase — Shall he then live? He shall not live! If he has done any of these abominations, He shall surely die; His blood shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:13)
If there were one part of Biblical teaching that I would have difficulty believing, it would concern the teachings about finance, interest and debt.
Parting the Red Sea? No problem. Rocks falling from the sky? That’s an easy one. But what about the Bible’s teachings about debt, collateral and the charging of interest on a loan?
Any student of modern economics can tell you that lending is a vital and necessary part of any advanced economic system. Lending at interest is the method of directing idle money to its highest and most productive purpose; both the lender and the borrower benefit. Because any loan is subject to the risk of loss, interest payments are a fair compensation for that risk.
That is why it is difficult to apply the Bible’s teachings on lending at interest.
Before we go further, we must note that the Bible’s teachings on lending are numerous, and there are important details throughout. Furthermore, lending at interest was allowed if the borrower were a Gentile because they were “outsiders,” not “brothers.”
As Christians, if we believe that we are all brothers and sisters, then we are obliged to seriously consider what is God’s revealed Will concerning finance.
I never gave this too much thought until recently, when the idea struck me, that among the greatest and most serious problems that humanity now faces, debt is at or near the center of many of them.
I was horrified to learn that America’s involvement in World War I was in large part due to the fact that American banks had loaned vast sums of money to France and England to finance their war with Germany. When it appeared obvious that the British and French were on the verge of losing the war, the American banks feared that all their money would be forfeit. So they persuaded a pacifist President Wilson to send American men into battle, not for freedom or national defense, but rather, to “bail out” the banks with American blood.
If this makes me sound like an “Occupy Wall Street” loon, consider that in the years 1939 to 1941, when there was a genuine national security issue at stake, the American people by a large majority resisted entering World War II. They had learned of the treachery of American banks, and were convinced that any call to war was just another ploy to make money for the rich at the expense of American men, their widows and orphans.
In other words, the falsehood that sent us into an unnecessary war almost prevented us from defending our vital security in a truly necessary war. We could have lost our freedom to murderous tyrants.
One can see that the issue of debt is quite serious and it is no less serious today. Debt has been used for nefarious purposes by both big government and big business. It has enriched corporations, and it has entrenched government power, all at the expense of most hardworking, honest citizens.
In the system of “crony capitalism” that rules us today, there is no level playing field. The feudal system of royalty has returned, with the Lords and Ladies getting all the benefits, while the peasants are increasingly at risk of poverty, hunger, and war.
Another word for crony capitalism is fascism, the form of government associated with Adolph Hitler. In that system, government and corporations form an alliance whereby each protects the other from competition. In that system, only the existing corporations can do business, and only the present government can remain in power. The ordinary people are lied to. Their wealth is confiscated. Their rights to freedom are violated and the entire global system becomes so mired in corruption and violence that a general, worldwide collapse becomes inevitable.
I would not go so far as to say that the Bible absolutely forbids lending money at interest, but I will say that the present system of fine print, government regulation and personal greed have all conspired to set us on the road to ruin.
We are very far along that road. The present remedies being employed are only making matters worse, fatally worse.
I am not saying that I have the solution. However, I will suggest that before we go any farther along this deadly path, we had better take a fresh look at what the Bible has to say, and how we can apply it.
Otherwise, we will be halfway across the Red Sea before we realize that we have become the Egyptians.
Robert Arvay is a Contributing Writer to The Patriot’s Notepad