The church, Christians, well people generally really, have a habit of MAJORING on minors. Making mountains out of molehills, and molehills out of mountains. Carefully straining a tiny gnat out of your coffee and not taking much notice when a camel falls into your drink (Mt 23:24). Six disputed Bible verses that apply to a small minority of “them” can keep people happily arguing for years. But the plain teaching of scripture that applies pretty much to all of us can be easily and comfortably ignored. “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” Mark Twain
When did you last hear a sermon about usury? When was it last discussed in your Christian group, church council, synod,…? When did you last find a debate on this in your Christian media?
Usury is the charging of interest on a loan.
The Bible is consistently pretty clear:
Ex 22:25 If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them.
Lev 25:35-37 If any of your kin fall into difficulty and become dependent on you, you shall support them; they shall live with you as though resident aliens.
Do not take interest in advance or otherwise make a profit from them, but fear your God; let them live with you.
You shall not lend them your money at interest taken in advance, or provide them food at a profit.
Deut 23:20 On loans to a foreigner you may charge interest, but on loans to another Israelite (literally brother, kinsman, one in a reciprocal relationship) you may not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all your undertakings in the land that you are about to enter and possess.
Usury was consistently and unanimously condemned by popes, by three ecumenical councils, by bishops, and by theologians.
Fast forward to 2010. The total credit-card debt in USA is $840,000,000,000 Total consumer debt is $4,200,000,000,000
In New Zealand, credit card interest is often 19 per cent. Making minimum payments it takes 13 years to pay off a purchase and the accumulated interest! New Zealand’s population of 4 million has a credit-card balance of more than $3,500,000,000
A lot of the current financial problems, for example in the housing sector, are due to the actual value of the house being below the amount that has been borrowed to purchase that house. I have been told that people are being very, very quiet about the fact that this problem is even much bigger in the commercial property sector (I think his figure was 85% of US commercial properties being less in actual value than the money borrowed to own them).
All this is connected to our practice of usury. Islam continues the biblical tradition against usury. One can share in the gains if you lend money, but you must also be prepared to share in the borrower’s losses.
In brief: interesting how we so easily ignore clear biblical teaching when it is inconvenient to our own needs/perceptions/culture. When was the last time you heard a sermon explaining why usury is fine? And how easily we use the Bible to bash others we disagree with.