Forgive us our debts
The Bible has an awful lot to say about money, those who have it, and those who don’t. Consider, for example:1
- For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10
- Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 19:24
- At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. Deuteronomy 12:1
- Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
- But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Luke 6:24
It’s baffling to me that the same people who are most zealous about forgive-no-debts capitalism fancy themselves Christians. There just isn’t any part of the Bible you can read and conclude that God’s probably okay with you ignoring extreme poverty. In the New Testament, if you ignore the poor you get called out by Jesus and you repent. In the Old Testament, if you ignore the poor you get conquered by Babylon and maybe your grandchildren survive long enough to repent.
I don’t think we should ask the Bible to dictate policy. Afterall, policies for a culture two thousand years ago on the other side of the world might not be great policies for us. With that said, it has a lot of useful things to say about priorities.
Please, please don’t take my selection of disparate verses from across the Bible uncritically. It’s relatively easy to come up with a collection of three our four verses, cram them together, and call it a teaching. A serious inquiry really requires looking at the text in the context of a larger passage—and then considering the passage in light of the remainder of scripture. But I haven’t figured out how to do that sort of inquiry in a blog post. So I’m just pulling some verses and asking folks to pay attention to keep an eye out for this particular theme across scripture. (It’s kind of hard to miss.) ↩