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August 31, 2022

Christians Against Debt Forgiveness? Seriously?

By Anthony Wade

How can we forget what our entire faith is predicated on?


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"If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. - Exodus 22:25 (ESV)

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My first semester of undergraduate work I had to take out a student loan to cover tuition. Thankfully, because it was a Community College, moving forward financial aid covered my costs without the need to take other loans. That one loan however stuck with me for the entire four years of undergraduate work and I had to have it deferred as I entered into Graduate School. Finally, eight years after the fact I was able to scrape enough together to pay it off in installments as I settled into my first "real" paying job. This experience did not seem to leave me as bitter as many appear to be this past week regarding the "student loan forgiveness" provided by the current administration. Sure, it would have been nice to wash that one loan away and not have it hang over me like the sword of Damocles for almost a decade, but my experience is mine and what people are going through today is theirs. Fairness? Isn't life short enough that we can just wish the best for people without having to compare their lot in life to ours?

Perhaps the more disappointing facet of the reaction is the "Christian" reaction. There is a deep seeded theological reason for the negativity. The NAR dominionist spirit that pervades the church today implores believers to adhere to the designs of one political party, who of course disagrees with the loan forgiveness. Not because of principle but because of politics. The reality is if their candidate was president and made the same forgiveness, they would be giddy embracing it. The above linked article is from Charisma News' Copy Editor, James Lasher. He is tasked with lying about this plan to support the Republican Party and convince people forgiven the debt of their sins, that debt forgiveness is a bad thing. Keep that in the back of your mind beloved as you reason together with me through this article. No matter how they twist the bible to pretend that God would somehow want people financially enslaved, we need to recall that our entire faith is based upon the forgiveness of the debt of our sin. Far, far weightier than $10,000.

"President Joe Biden has drawn the ire of many Americans with his announcement of student loan transference. To call it a cancellation, forgiveness or anything implying there is not a cost to it, would be an outright lie. His announcement of transference of loans to the American taxpayer is for qualified loan originators only. If a student, or former student, makes less than $125,000 a year, they will have taxpayer funded money pay up to $10,000 off of their debt. This action would cost approximately $300 billion." - James Lasher

Biden only drew the ire of people who do not want to see him reelected. The first talking point from the Republican Party is that this loan forgiveness, and that is exactly what it is, is somehow taking money from educated middle class folks and dumping it on the heads of blue-collar Americans through tax increases. Problem with that rationale is it is an "outright lie" to borrow a phrase. Even if true, should it matter to Christians? How much has Christ forgave for you? For many people, this $10,000 forgiveness is 10% or less than their entire debt. Welcome but hardly life altering. I have heard the tired arguments. They knew what they were agreeing to so who cares if the terms price gouge them for decades. Who cares if they were sold a false bill of goods that their new job cannot pay? Yet we all knew what we were doing when we lived in rebellion to God and still welcomed His complete forgiveness, no? What if he only forgave $10,000 worth of your sin? How would you be looking on the last day? I have heard the people who feel they deserve some kind of rebate because they already paid their debt off and if they had to then screw those who have debt now! I am reminded of the parable of the master who hired workers at different points during the day to work in his fields yet they all received the same pay. Those that started early complained why they should get the same pay as those that worked only one hour. Stop comparing your struggles with others. Thank God He did not require a sliding scale to extend His forgiveness.

'If this transference plan goes through, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) said it would wipe out any deficit reductions that came with the Inflation Reduction Act that was just passed: "Debt cancellation would boost near-term inflation far more than the IRA will lower it," CRFB wrote, "$10,000 of debt cancellation could add up to 15 basis points up front and create additional inflationary pressure over time."' - James Lasher

"Compound this with the fact that people on both sides of the aisle are mad at the President. Members of the NAACP are unhappy with the $10,000 tax payment because they say it doesn't do enough to alleviate the crushing debt many Black Americans hold today. The NAACP has been calling for cancellations of up to $50,000 worth of debt for students of color, which would have an approximate taxpayer funded impact of $980 billion. Conservatives are clearly unhappy with the added tax burden of loans willfully taken by some, and being paid for by everyone else. Many are questioning why they need to foot the bill for loans that they did not take out, while many who have paid off their student-loans or worked while in school and paid their own way would like to know if they are getting a tax credit." - James Lasher

In case that gambit doesn't work the next ploy from Lasher is to try and scare you into hating those that got the relief. It could cost you money! The truth is this is all speculation but if they can get you to fear other people being helped, they score political points. The next ploy is to pretend that everyone is against the idea of helping people. For those on the left, they feel the proposal did not go far enough but folks on the right are being lied to in order to believe they will foot the bill, which of course they will not. In order to pit us against each other, they float out the absurd notion that people who paid off debt should expect a rebate of some form. This is all designed to make people angry that some people are being helped. As Christians we should not be angry that people are getting some help from crushing debt. Yes, even if they were the ones that caused the debt. Now that Lasher has laid out the carnal reasons to hate people, he tries to shift this into a biblical discussion:

'So, amongst all the media and "expert" opinions weighing in on the topic of student debt, what does the Bible say about all of this? To anyone who hasn't read it, the Bible actually talks about finances a lot. The Bible is clear about what you should do if you're in debt. Pay it. Romans 13:7-8 says: "Render to all what is due them: taxes to whom taxes are due, respect to whom respect is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honor to whom honor is due. Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law." Psalm 37:21 reinforces what Paul wrote in Romans saying, "The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous is gracious and gives."' - James Lasher

The sad thing is NAR dominionists have no issue with mangling the bible for their own political ends. The verses he references are when we borrow from another person, not a corporate entity that is charging exorbitant interest, which the key verse today says should not be charged at all. The bible says we should not lend money expecting it to be paid back at all! God even provided for Jubilee to allow people to erase their debts. Consider the parable of the Unmerciful Servant:

'"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "At this the servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart."' - Matthew 18:23-35 (ESV)

So, you are right James, the bible does speak very clearly regarding debt cancellation. Before you start justifying by claiming this is not about money my answer is, I know. Money is so much more trivial then eternal life. Do you know the worst part of this? It is not like the person whose debt is cancelled owed the money to us! In this parable, the wicked servant is owed money directly by the man he had thrown in prison. His hypocritical sin of course is that a far greater debt had already been forgiven of him, so he should at least have mercy. In this story of college debt forgiveness, we are not owed anything beloved.

"But wait... doesn't Luke 6:34-35 say to lend without hoping for anything in return and the reward in heaven will be great? Yes, it does, and that is a matter of the heart. Jesus did not want His followers to be focused on being paid back and on earthly, monetary gains, but their heavenly rewards for following and serving Him. Christians need to be mindful about what is in their hearts, not their wallets, during the conversation of this polarizing topic. The Bible teaches payment of debt is an act of obedience to God, and so is showing grace, love and mercy to the debtors as well. It is a careful balancing act that Christians must seek the Lord over, because God's side is the right side in all of this." - James Lasher

It is a little disingenuous to now suggest minding our heart after two pages telling us why we should oppose this. Payment of debt is never offered as an act of obedience to God. Forgiveness on the other hand most certainly is. God's side is of course the right side, but you can argue this was a careful balancing act. We can see that in one side thinking it went too far and the other saying not far enough! Sure, some might be helped in totality as their debt was under the 10K offered but most this will merely help a little. Are we so self-centered as to not even want that for our fellow human beings? A little relief? A little joy? Too much to allow?

"Time and again, Jesus displayed concern for where a person's heart was, not in money. Will the transference of student debt hurt the American taxpayer, increase inflation even more and divide an already tribalized culture? Yes, it will do all of that, but Christians can still stand where they believe is right in this conversation, as long as the fruit of the Spirit is rooted firmly in their hearts and the love of Jesus is shown to all they encounter in conversation." - James Lasher

I see no way that you can be against this relief and not be focusing on the money. Thus, it most certainly is a heart issue. It also is a hypocrisy issue because most who are against this are also very much in favor of the previous president who stiffed his debtors six times through bankruptcy. What the James lashers of the world fail to see is they are the ones pitting us against each other. They are the ones furthering the tribalism. They do so by pretending that they know this relief will have any affect whatsoever on the taxpayer or increase inflation. Four years at NYU will cost you over $200,000. A four-year degree from a state college in New York will leave you with a bill around $100,000. The same would run a debt of $28,000 for a City University degree. So maybe those with local degrees would be greatly helped but everyone else? They will still be massively in debt. Is that pound of flesh enough for us?

I am just floored that Christians even have to debate the righteousness of debt cancellation. It is the entire premise of our faith! Are we supposed to revel in the misfortune of others? Even if we perceive it to be their fault? Wasn't the weight of our sin debt entirely our fault? How in the world do you read the gospel accounts of the ministry of Jesus Christ and think for one second, He would be against such small debt cancelation? That His followers scour the bible to find verse snippets to try and deny people a slim margin of relief is reprehensible. We are like the wicked servant demanding these people, who do not actually owe us anything, be thrown in debtors' prison! It is time to stop splitting the bill and pretending there are two sides here within the Christian sphere. There is not. There is one. Jesus created the concept of debt cancellation. His followers should not be trying to end it over a matter so trivial as money. Get your focus back beloved. Can you imagine standing before Christ explaining that you were against debt forgiveness because of concerns over inflation? Seriously? There is no grey area here. We are either pro-forgiveness or not. Time to decide.

Reverend Anthony Wade - August 31, 2022

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.