Christians and BankingPrologue
Should Christians invest money in banks, or borrow money at interest?
by Terje Ronneberg
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What would your reaction be if you discovered that there was a deadly man-made virus released into the world, which when it infects a populace:
-Causes depression and suicide rates to go up.
-Causes an increase in the occurrence of aggressive and murderous behavior.
-Causes entire nations to break into war when infections reach epidemic levels.
-Causes multitudes of deaths among the poor from preventable causes.
-Causes women to have less babies, especially among wealthier nations, often so few that infected people groups become at risk of extinction.
-Causes babies born to infected parents to often carry the disabling impacts of the virus for their entire lives, and they may even pass these on to further generations.
-Causes the average worker to use up more energy in their labouring for a living, but with much less reward for their efforts.
So, how would you react to learning of such a terrible virus? Perhaps you would want to know how to prevent being infected, and stop such a thing from plaguing your own family and community.
The truth is such a "virus" actually does exist in the world today, and causes all the negative effects described above and more. The name of this man-made infliction is "Interest-bearing debt". One of the goals of this article is to shine the light of divine truth upon this deadly contagion, and bring to light its true nature.
In the 1800's when people became enlightened to the fact that microscopic germs were behind much disease, they quickly accepted that washing hands could prevent the spread of disease. Since its widespread adoption, washing hands is said to have saved more lives than any other medical breakthrough. This article seeks to inspire a similar enlightenment in relation to the corruptive scourge of interest-bearing debt, such that people would see that washing one's hands of it would help make the world a better place now, and for future generations.
This article presents some of the numerous reasons why many past and present followers of Jesus have chosen not to be involved in certain financial practices such as lending money at interest, borrowing money at interest, and investing money in banks.
The article was not written to define a set of strict rules to live by, but rather to enlighten peoples minds and consciences to the teachings of Scripture, so that they may more freely judge for themselves how to best glorify the Lord in the handling of earthly riches. For all Scripture is useful for teaching, correcting and showing us how to live a God pleasing life (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
For those who want only a brief overview of the reasons, they can be found in the below table which offers a short summary of each chapter. Those willing to read the full article, can jump the below summary to the start of the article.
1) Jesus' Teachings about Earthly Goods:
When considering how Jesus would want us to handle earthly wealth, His words should be of foremost importance. Scripture tells us how He encouraged giving freely to those that ask (Matthew 5:42), and to even lend to our enemies without expecting any profit in return, "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil." (Luke 6:30-35).
Jesus also more than once discouraged the laying up of earthly treasure, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth..." (Matthew 6:19). In an other Scripture we read of a parable Jesus told of a rich fool, who had been blessed with a prosperous season of farming, and so he built bigger barns to store the great harvest. He expected to live a care-free life for years to come, but instead died suddenly. Jesus provides an explanation to the parable saying "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:21). He goes on to teach about living a life free from worry, and encourages us to "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?" (Luke 12:24). Jesus goes even further and provides practical instruction on how to fulfill His teachings by saying "Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys" (Luke 12:33).
The above mentioned Scriptures can be summarised into three main points:
1) Be generous with your wealth, giving it away freely to help others, and lend it freely even to your enemies without expecting to personally profit from it.
2) Storing up earthly wealth is foolish when we have the option to invest it into things of eternal value. Storing wealth is especially foolish when motivated by fearful worrying, or a lack of faith in God's good and timely provision of all our needs.
3) If we do have excess possessions we should sell them and give them to the poor.
These simple yet radical teachings of Jesus are in direct contrast to the ways of the world, including the core business activities of banks (storehouses of wealth), which lend money to people on the agreement that all the money is returned to them in full plus a profitable interest.
The above few examples of Jesus teachings should already give open-minded Christians enough reason to dismiss interest-collecting banking as being in opposition to what Jesus would suggest we do with our money. At the very least the words of Jesus should awaken a desire to examine further whether the rest of Scripture as a whole can support such radical ideas.
2) Debt is a Form of Slavery
The Bible never speaks positively of being in debt. Proverbs speaks of the borrower being servant to the lender.
"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7) KJV
The word "slave" is used instead of "servant" in some Bible translations of this proverb.
Money represents labor, therefore the more money a person owes to somebody, the more they are bound to labor for the person owed.
Being a slave is to be bound to labor for somebody else, it makes little difference whether a slave is bound by physical chains, or the paper chains of a debt contract.
A free person is somebody that is not bound to labor for anybody else.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to Christians in Corinth, taught that those who had a choice between being or not being a slave, should choose not to be a slave. "You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men." (1 Corinthians 7:23) NKJV.
So it is clear that as Christians we should choose to be free from debt, since it is a form of enslavement to man, and our lives are the property of God.
We should equally not seek to partake in the enslavement of others, since we are called to do to others as we would have them do to us (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31), and to love one another as Christ has loved us (John 13:34).
If debt is defined as enslavement, then banks are seeking to enslave people through debt, therefore to have money in such banks is to partake in enslaving people with debt.
Debt and slavery are often used in the Bible to symbolize sin. Slavery is not a state of being for which God created mankind. The core message of Christianity is Christ coming into the world to set free mankind from spiritual slavery.
In the Old Testament we read of how God had no pleasure in seeing His people enslaved. He freed Israel from bondage in Egypt. But we also read of how God's people often became slaves to other nations when they strayed from following God's ways. God had warned Israel that many bad things would follow if they did not follow His ways, these included other people enjoying the fruit of their labour, and their children been taken into captivity (Deuteronomy 28:33-41). In Jeremiah's day the Lord spoke in judgment saying: "And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years" (Jeremiah 25:11). What was the reason God's people were given over to 70 years of servitude to Babylon? A few verses earlier the reason is stated: "Because you have not heard My words." (Jeremiah 25:8), we read how instead they had followed after other gods, and their false prophets.
When we consider the epidemic of debt slavery and other economic woes that inflict the world today, should we not ponder the possibility that these inflictions are the fruit of God's words regarding debt being forsaken, and heed being instead given to the false prophets of profit?
God's attitude towards slavery among his chosen people of Israel can also be seen in the laws He set regarding slavery. If for whatever reason such as poverty, a fellow Israelite wanted to sell himself to you as a slave, you were not allowed to subject him to a slaves service, but he was instead to be treated as a hired man until the year of jubilee, which was every 7 years, after which he was not sent away empty handed. And he was not to be sold in a slave sale (Leviticus 25:39-43, Exodus 21:2). So, only an individual could ever sell/indenture themselves, and even then it was a very limited form of indentured servitude, for a very limited period of time. It was basically an agreement to work for a certain period of time, in exchange for food, accommodation, and possibly some agreed upon amount of money. It really was not much different to a work contract, in which both sides reaped benefits. The indentured worker would also have gained experience and knowledge in some industry such as agriculture, which he could use after his contract had ended. Forms of indentured servitude were practiced even in the US until around 1917, for example people wanting to migrate to the US from Europe, would "indenture" themselves for a specific number of years in exchange for the expensive cost of traveling by ship across the Atalantic.
In the Old Testament God made it clear, that the kind of slavery whereby somebody was kidnapped and sold into slavery was punishable by death (Exodus 21:16).
3) Banks a Common Purse and an Unequal Yoke:
Would you personally lend money at interest to:
a poor widow who has no job, and has children to feed?
a person with painful health problems needing immediate surgery?
a spendthrift suicidal party animal to waste on a night out drinking, partying, and gambling?
a shopping addict to spend on fancy clothes they don't need?
a pregnant woman wanting to pay for an abortion?
The fact is banks would automatically lend money in all the above situations if the individual had a valid credit card.
And the bank would also share a part of the profits with those who have money invested with them.
As a Christian would you want to share in such profits, or would you consider them ill gotten gains?
A bank is like a "common purse" where many different kinds of people deposit their money into a large pool of funds. Scripture instructs to refrain from walking with sinners, who entice you to share your lot with them and have a common purse (Proverbs 1:10-15).
In the New Testament Paul writes against being yoked with unbelievers: "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14).
A yoke can be considered to be symbolic of partnership, to partner with somebody in a common cause, weather it be a marriage relationship, business enterprise, or a mutual investment. When one invests money in an interest-bearing bank account, they are partnering with the bank, and the bank invests the deposited money in various ways, including ways that many Christians would abhor. The bank then shares part of the profits with those who have partnered with them.
The dangers of this kind of yoke/partnership have been highlighted in recent years by many incidents. For example a large US bank was caught and fined millions of dollars for handling hundreds of billions of dollars of illegal drug trade money. Would Christians want their money deposited in a common purse with the blood money of murderous drug lords?
An other example is that of a very large bank in Australia, which was found to be financing a very large brothel in Sydney. Such activity is legal in Australia, but it would be hard to find any honest Christian who would be willing to invest their money in the development of a brothel to gain a profit. However many Christians have their money invested in such banks which do not follow Christian ethics when choosing how to invest their customers money.
Consider the parallel of somebody hiring a hitman to murder somebody. The person hiring the hitman is not committing the act themselves, but they are entering into a partnership with somebody who is willing to do the crime. In probably every legal system in the world, hiring a hitman is equally punishable to committing the murder yourself. One might assume that when a person deposits money into a bank to earn interest, they are equally responsible before God for where their money goes on to be invested. Do Christians want to be guilty of investing money into things like tobacco, prostitution, gambling, guns, etc.?
4) Charging Interest Forbidden in Old Testament
Traditional English Bibles use a term called "usury" when describing any kind of "usage fee" charged when loaning out certain things including money, food, and oil. In modern English we call it charging interest. The definition of the English word "usury" has changed over time to mean excessive interest. Smith's Bible Dictionary in it's definition of "usury" states: "The word usury has come in modern English to mean excessive interest upon money loaned, either formally illegal or at least oppressive. In the Scriptures, however the word did not bear this sense, but meant simply interest of any kind upon money.".
The definition of usury changed around the time of reformation as documented by the law professor John Erskine.
"The crime of usury, before the Reformation, consisted in the taking of any interest for the use of money; and now in taking an higher rate of interest than is authorised by law." (Principles of the law of Scotland ).
So when the Bible speaks of usury, it is simply talking about interest. There are many Scriptures on the topic of usury to consider in the Old Testament, such as where God forbade the Israelites to exact usury from each other.
"Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury: " (Deuteronomy 23:19) KJV
"You shall not charge interest to your brother—interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest." (Deuteronomy 23:19) NKJV
King David in Psalm 15 asks, "Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?"(Psalm 15:1) He goes on to describe such a person, the description includes "He who does not put out his money at interest" (Psalm 15:5).
Jeremiah in declaring his blamelessness states "I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them does curse me." (Jeremiah 15:10) KJV
His statement seems to infer that even partaking in usury as the one indebted to the usurer is not a good thing. Possibly because paying usury is facilitating somebody else's ungodly lifestyle, and it is an ungodly yoke.
Charging interest is spoken against in several other places in the Old Testament: (Proverbs 28:8; Nehemiah 5:7-10, Ezekiel 18:8, Ezekiel 18:13, Ezekiel 18:17; Ezekiel 22:12).
Some might say that perhaps the charging of interest mentioned in the Bible was only an excessively high amount of interest. If that was the case, we would expect the Bible to have given some guidelines as to what was deemed a sinful amount of interest, and what was an acceptable level of interest. But just as the Bible says theft is wrong, it does not need to define how much theft is wrong, since theft is wrong regardless of the amount. In the same way charging interest was wrong regardless of the amount.
When Nehemiah rebuked some Israelites for exacting usury from their fellow countrymen, he told them to return to them the one-hundredth part which they had exacted from them as usury for loans of money, corn, wine, and oil (Nehemiah 5:11). He didn't rebuke them for taking too much interest, they were rebuked for taking interest at all, and they were told to return the full amount taken. The rate of interest was one-hundredth or 1%, which some say was collected monthly, if so, the rate of interest would have been 12% per annum.
Just as we cannot assume usury in the Bible means high interest, neither can we assume that under Old Testament laws usury was only forbidden when it oppressed the poor, since the Bible does not make such a distinction each time usury was forbidden. The Bible clearly forbids theft, and robbing the poor is especially forbidden: "Do not rob the poor because he is poor," (Proverbs 22:22). But this Scripture about not robbing the poor does not mean it is alright to rob somebody if they are not poor! The same goes for exacting usury. Usury was forbidden unequivocally among the Jewish people, and taking usury from the poor was especially forbidden for example: "If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury." (Exodus 22:25).
Christians today are no longer under the Old Testament laws, but it may be helpful to contemplate why God might have given such rules against usury to Israel, such as to:
-Protect people from getting into financial bondage.
-Protect the poor from being oppressed by the rich.
-Encourage God's people to treat one another as family and friends without partiality.
-Help disempower greed.
-Encourage people to trust in Him as the ultimate provider.
-Avoid a large division between the rich and the poor.
-Protect future generations from inheriting debt.
Can we not assume that God still cares about all these same issues today?
The Old Testament laws only mention one exception when usury was permitted:
"Unto a stranger (translated from the Hebrew "Nokriy") you may lend upon usury; but unto your brother you shall not lend upon usury: that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you set your hand to in the land whither you goest to possess it"(Deuteronomy 23:20).
However, another Scripture states:
"And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger (translated from the Hebrew "Ger"), or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase" (Leviticus 25:35-37).
These two Scriptures would seem to contradict when read in English, one forbids usury against strangers (foreigners), the other permits it.
Since Scripture cannot contradict itself, the class of "strangers" translated from the Hebrew "Nokiry" must be a different class of "strangers" to those translated from "Ger".
Scripture makes it clear that the "Ger" strangers were to be loved (Deuteronomy 10:19), and were not to be oppressed.
"Thou shalt neither vex a stranger (translated from "Ger"), nor oppress him: for you were strangers (Ger) in the land of Egypt." (Exodus 22:21).
It would seem the "Ger" class of strangers were foreigners that had made Israel their home, but were not of the original blood line of the patriarch Jacob (Israel). The "Nokiry" strangers were foreigners who lived outside Israel. This distinction between the two different classes of strangers/foreigners can be clearly seen in the following Scripture:
"You shall not eat of anything that died of itself: you shall give it unto the foreigner (Ger) that is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it unto a foreigner (Nokriy). (Deuteronomy 14:21).
Outside Israel at that time were utterly corrupt nations, most notably the Philistines. Joshua had been commanded to utterly destroy these nations, but they remained a problem for hundreds of years. Israel was constantly at war with the Philistines, until king David brought a great victory over them around 1000 BC (2 Samuel 8:1, 1 Chronicles 18:1).
It would seem logical that it was these "foreigners" that God permitted the Israelites to oppress with usury. Usury was a form of economic warfare to weaken and destroy these utterly corrupt nations, in the same way that Israel was also permitted and commanded by God to use deadly physical force against them.
However, being under a new covenant today, Christians are not permitted to murder or use violence against their enemies, but instead we are told to love our enemies, and pray for them.
So too we can assume that God doesn't want Christians today to use the destructive forces of usury to financially oppress anybody, not even our enemies.
5) Usury and Brotherhood
Would lending money at interest to a close family member, be more likely to stir up contempt and division, or strengthen familial love and unity?
If you don't think lending money at interest to close family is a good idea, what is the difference in having your money in a bank and having the bank lend your money at interest for you to the larger family of humanity? Scripture says we are all of one blood (Acts 17:26), and we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves.
The truth is there are two spiritual powers at work in the world, one is bringing people together, and the other seeks to tear people apart, we need to make a choice of which power we will listen to in our heart. If we desire to live in a world of peace and harmony. The only right choice is to open our hearts to the Spirit of Christ.
Throughout history the Spirit of Christ has been seeking to bring people into unity with God and fellow mankind.
The chosen nation of Israel was called to be a shining example of this desire fulfilled, today the church of Christ on earth has the same holy calling.
The church is called to be a witness of what God's kingdom is like, and should be working towards bringing the world into harmony with God's kingdom.
Can anybody imagine usury being a part of the kingdom of God in heaven?
If we pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10), should not every part of our lives also bear witness to God's kingdom?
If we are involved in lending money at interest is that activity reflecting the kingdom of God?
Love is a primary characteristic of God's kingdom, Scripture describes God as love. The nature of love is to give something of oneself without expecting anything in return.
Is exacting usury from our neighbor an act of love? or is it actually the opposite of love?
"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:8)
"By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another." (John 13:34:35)
6) Jesus and the Parable of the Talents
There is nothing in the Bible that teaches usury to be an acceptable practice for Christians today. One scripture that is often used to try and justify usury as acceptable, is the parable of the talents, in which Jesus told of a master who commended the practice of using banks to gain interest (Matthew 25:27, Luke 19:23).
There are multiple problems with using this parable to suggest that Jesus commended usury:
-Firstly, the parable was not given as a lesson in financial responsibility. Jesus told parables to teach us something about the kingdom of God. A Common principle of theology is that we should never build a doctrine based upon a parable, since they were originally told to conceal a truth, and are often ambiguous in their meaning. The parable of the talents is considered by some to be among the most ambiguous. Therefore the parable of the talents should not be used as foundation to build a biblical case for the acceptance of usury today.
-If Jesus was teaching usury was commendable, it would contradict His other teachings. He taught to give freely, and lend without expecting anything in return. He encouraged those with an over abundance of wealth or goods to sell them, and give to the poor, he did not advise investing in banks. In fact he spoke against the the hoarding up of earthly wealth. Jesus would not have encouraged usury among the Jewish people he was teaching, since it was clearly forbidden in the Jewish law.
-In the parable of the talents the term "banker" is translated from the Greek word "Trapeza" which in the rest of the New Testament is translated "table" thirteen times. It is only ever translated "banker" in this particular Scripture. It probably referred to those that had a table set up at a public place for conducting business transactions, such as tax collectors, money changers, etc. The term could also easily refer to an investment broker. One of the ways that large public projects such as roads, bridges, harbors, etc. were funded in the Roman empire was by contracting the work out to companies known as "publicani", which were funded by investors, including people from the public, the public accounts were known as "tabulae" in Latin, which is translated into English as "tables". Once the project such as a road was completed, a toll was collected for the privilege of its use, ie. a road toll. That is how investors recovered their money, and possibly made a profit also.
-The original Greek word from which "usury" in this parable is translated is "Tokos", and simply speaks of offspring, or something that is born of something, it could equally be translated in the modern term "dividend", which investors receive from profitable shares. So it cannot be said for sure that this parable is actually speaking of the type of usury mentioned in the Old Testament. The "Tokos" could have been dividends received from a business investment. An investment in a business share is completely different to usury, for the investor shares equally in both profits and losses, if the business project fails the investors has no rights to the money any longer, so there is no possibility of becoming enslaved to the investor. Whereas, if a bank loans somebody money to start a business, and the business fails, the borrower is still obliged to pay the bank in full with a profitable interest, even though they have made no profit.
-Even if the parable was speaking of true usury, Jesus using a local possibly Roman custom to illustrate a kingdom truth does not automatically equate to his acceptance of the custom as godly, just as His parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-13) cannot be used to support the practice of inaccurate book-keeping for personal profit.
-Jesus is known to use contrast in parables to emphasize a point, such as the parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8), in which God is contrasted against an unjust earthly judge. Jesus may also have made use of contrast in a similar way in the parable of the talents. The following interpretation follows that line of thought: The rich master neither agreed with nor disputed the accusation that he was harsh. Some see this to mean that the master was indeed a cruel and despised ruler (as have been many of the rich throughout history). So then, being harsh, he would have cared more about wealth than people, and may have taken on the three servants to be apprentices to learn the ways of his evil dealings, and to further spread his oppressive success. The first two apprentices followed in their masters wicked footsteps and had successfully put into practice what they had learned, and they were rewarded for it. But the third servant is actually the real hero of the story, he actually decided against engaging in the corrupt ways he had been taught, and so he did nothing with the talent that was entrusted to him. He simply returned to his master what belonged to him. The wicked master felt he had wasted his time and energy on this servant, and therefore punished him.
As mentioned, parables are said to be earthly stories with a heavenly meaning, in light of that Jesus may have used this story to contrast the kingdoms of this present fallen world, and the kingdom of Heaven. Though there are many parallels between the two kingdoms, they are directly opposite. In this world the wicked are often rewarded for following the footsteps of their master the devil, and those that refuse to follow him are punished and treated harshly. Likewise it is equally true that those that follow Jesus as their master will be rewarded in His kingdom, but those that do not follow him will suffer loss.
In light of the above issues raised, the parable of talents cannot be used to support usury, in fact it can just as easily be used against usury.
7) Might is Right?
Usury depends on and perpetuates the philosophy that "Might is right", where it is assumed that those with a lot of financial muscle, have the right to profit from those that are financially weaker. In other words, usury is simply a form of financial servitude placed upon the financially weaker by the stronger, whereby the economically fitter consume the economically weaker.
Is this not contradictory to Jesus teaching: "And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:" Matthew 20:27 (KJV).
As Christians the greatness of our wealth should not be measured by how greatly we can personally profit from it, but by how greatly it is used to serve our fellow man. Christians should use their wealth as a means to serve, rather than as a means to be served.
Does usury follow the Spirit and example of the servant hearted Jesus? Can anybody imagine Jesus ever partaking in usury for personal profit? The truth is Jesus freely gave His whole life for the profit of the world, should not Christians follow His example?
We also have the teachings and example of Paul to guide us in serving our neighbor:
"just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." (1 Corinthians 10:33)
"Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being." (1 Corinthians 10:24)
Depositing money in usurious banks is to partner with banks in exerting financial might over financially weaker entities.
8) Banks and Violence
Some peace-loving Christians of Anabaptist/Amish heritage do not practice depositing money into banks due to their pacifist views when it comes to war and violence. If they put their money in a secular bank they believe there is the danger that violence may be used against a would-be bank robber that might try to steal their money. For example a robber might get shot by a policeman or security guard while trying to stop him robbing the bank. However, if the same robber came to rob them personally, they would not resist them with violence, based on the teachings of Jesus who said: "But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also." (Matthew 5:39-40).
So for Christians who take these words of Jesus literally and seriously, it would be hypocritical to put their money in a bank which does not share their beliefs about not using violence in protecting private property.
9) Usury Cultivates War and Division
The pagan Greek philosopher Plato (Born 427 BC) wrote against usury on the basis it was a cause of disharmony between peoples rather than being something that cultivated friendship and happiness, and as such was not for the greater good of the general populace. "and no one shall deposit money with another whom he does not trust as a friend, nor shall he lend money upon interest". ("Laws" Book V. Written by Plato 360 BC. Translated by Benjamin Jowett)
The truth is usury by its very nature helps expand the division between the rich and the poor, and division is destructive and destabilizing to any nation or kingdom. Jesus the wisest king of the most enduring kingdom stated: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand." (Matthew 12:25).
Usury is a form of injustice and oppression. No kingdom can endure where injustice prevails, such a kingdom will either crumble from within, or be brought down by outward forces.
When a group of people are oppressed for long enough, it is easy to see why eventually some who lack the patience and wisdom to pursue change through non-violent and peaceful means may instead decide to fight, rebel, riot, and exact vengeance upon their oppressors. Like a dog that is treated badly for long enough, may one day snap and turn upon its oppressor.
The annals of history bear evidence of how in most societies that practiced slavery, there have been armed slave uprisings. For example there is the famous story of Spartacus (c. 109–71 BC), an escaped Roman slave, who helped lead a great and bloody slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Central to the American civil war was also the issue of justice regarding slavery.
Many western countries are viewed by extremists as unholy and unjust, therefore they feel it is their obligation to fight them to make the world a better place. The Bible says "When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." (Proverbs 16:7). This Scripture can ring equally true on a national level, when a nation follows God, there is less injustice in the land, therefore there is less reason for rebellion or anger to rise up against that nation.
It is easy to see that usury is connected with the underlying factors that lead to war and conflict, which have caused the death of millions of people around the world over the course of history.
Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9).
Christians are called to be peacemakers, they should be influencing nations towards peace, justice, and freedom through righteousness.
"Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14:34)
Are banks helping make the world a better place? Or are they having a destructive influence on the world in general?
If banks are not of God, but are rather doing the work of the devil, should Christians not consider forsaking banks, that they may not be guilty of being a partaker in their sins?
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues." (Revelation 18:4).
Usurious debt is not only cultivating the conditions for war. It has also historically been a means of funding wars. Rich international bankers have been willing to lend money at interest to governments which are engaged in expensive wars. It is not inconceivable to imagine that these bankers might even fund both sides of a war as some researchers claim has happened in the past. The longer a war lasts the more profitable it is for the bankers. Christians should strive to make sure their hands are clean of such blood.
"When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow." (Isaiah 1:15-17).
Below are a few quotes from some famous political leaders regarding economic powers that seek to oppress nations:
"When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes... Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain."
- Napoleon Bonaparte, 1815
"The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe. Corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow. The money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed." -Abraham Lincoln
"For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence--on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations."
- John F. Kennedy
"There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by sword, the other is by debt."
- John Adams
10) Banks vs Bible:
An organization either follows the teachings of Jesus, or it doesn't. Should Christian yoke themselves to any organization that does not follow the teachings of Jesus?
Below are some of the many principles and practices promoted by banks that may be considered the complete opposite to principles taught in the Bible.
Some may object saying, "Everybody has money in the bank, it is the normal thing to do, and it is not illegal!". Or "Getting a home loan is the normal thing to do!".
But just because something is accepted by the masses does not make it right, Scripture says "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" (Exodus 23:2).
And just because something is deemed by the government as legal doesn't mean it is right before God, for example prostitution, gambling, abortion, etc.
11) Banks and the Virtue of Mercy
Scripture exalts the virtue of being merciful and forgiving our debtors:
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12)
Banks on the other hand will pursue debts owed to them to the full extent of the law. Banks do not generally forgive those that fall behind on their debt payments even if it is due to things like loss of employment, an accident, sickness, family problems, etc.
When we have money in the bank which is lent out on usury to other people, we cannot fulfill our duty to forgive our debtors, since the policy of the bank overrides what might be our own personal choice. We might want to see somebodies debt forgiven, but the bank will seek to punish them. That is just one of the many dangers of being yoked with the merciless bank system, it is to partake in its sin.
Scripture clearly says that we should not partake or share in an other persons sins (Ephesians 5:6-7, 1 Timothy 5:22).
"Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." (1 Timothy 5:22).
12) Debt and Suicide
Debt is a common factor behind many suicides. Sadly many see death as the best option to escape the woes of financial bondage. In recent times it has been reported that before the European debt crisis, Greece had the lowest suicide rate in Europe, with the debt crisis unfolding, the suicide rates in Greece became the highest in Europe.
If you ask a person overwhelmed by credit card debt whether they have ever, even once, considered suicide as an escape. It is not hard to imagine the high likelihood of them admitting to having had such a thought. Debt is unnatural, it is like taking a wild bear and putting it in a small cage. It is not hard to guess in which state of being such a bear would be happier, and mentally healthier.
In December 2012, The University of Brighton in the UK published a 54 page report "Responsible individuals and irresponsible institutions? A report into the Mental Health and the UK credit industry". In the executive summary, point number 32 goes as follows:
"While worry about the implications of over-indebtedness, such as a failure to be able to maintain payment for essential living expenses, such as food, rent and bills, was clearly important, it was also clear that debt clients frequently felt humiliated, disconnected and entrapped and that the processes of debt collection outlined above had a clear impact on people’s mental health. The harassment and the feeling of being uncontrollably entrapped in these practices of harassment related to experiences of despair, depression, suicidal ideation and what was frequently referred to as ‘breakdown’. People talked of having no opportunity to escape from the pressure."
In the abstract of an academic paper titled "Debt and suicidal behaviour in the Finnish general population" by Hintikka J., Kontula O., Saarinen P. and others (1998) it is written:
"We studied the significance of debt as a risk factor for suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in a nation-wide sample (n = 4868) of the Finnish general population. Those experiencing difficulties in repaying their debts more often than others (37 vs. 16%, P<0.001) had a probable minor mental disorder (GHQ-12 score > or =3). Nevertheless, difficulties in repaying debts were found to be a factor independently associated with suicidal ideation (OR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.9-4.2)."
The connection between debt and suicide is indisputable, therefore to partake in enslaving fellow mankind to usurious debt is to partake in causing death.
Is not a debt driven banking system that helps lead many people to an early death contradictory to the virtue of Jesus being the source of abundant life:
"The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus to set captives free (Luke 4:18-19). Scripture also says that those that hate God, love death (Proverbs 8:36). If we are seeking to follow Christ, we too are called to be people that bring life, liberty, and healing to people.
Imagine you are a demolition expert, you are called to demolish an old building with explosives. Would you blow it up if you were unsure if there was anybody inside it that might get hurt or killed? The truth is bank debt is a common factor behind suicide. Can anybody who participates in the usurious banking system claim that their partnership with the bank system is not causing any harm or death to the lives of the people who may be yoked by debt to the banking system? If you cannot be 100% sure, then why take the risk of partnering with such a life-threatening system?
Jesus said "Each tree is recognized by its own fruit." (Luke 6:44). We should judge the usurious banking system by its fruit, and decide whether the prophets of profit speak words that bring life, or whether Jesus is right when He says "the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63).
Throughout the Bible God gives people a choice to follow His way, which leads to life, or the wrong way that leads to death.
"And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt you between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word" (1 Kings 18:21).
"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:" (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Sadly, many often choose the broader way:
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it." (Matthew 7:13).
13) Usury and the Cost of Housing
Imagine an isolated island with a small community of people, they use coconuts as money to trade amongst one another. The price of any good is limited by the number of coconuts that grow on the island.
The highest valued piece of real-estate on the island is a large cave, which the current owner has put up for sale. The maximum sale price is limited by the number of coconuts on the island. So the cave would be sold to whoever is willing to pay the most coconuts.
However, a coconut merchant ship full of coconuts has stopped at the island, and the shrewd captain hearing of the sale has made an offer to lend coconuts to anybody in return for a payment of 1 coconut/year for each 10 borrowed, and they had 30 years to pay back all the coconuts loaned.
Many on the island were willing to take up the offer. Now the price of the cave was no longer determined by the amount of coconuts a person owned, but by how much people were willing to give up of their time and energy each year collecting and earning coconuts for the captain of the merchant ship.
At first the islanders may have questioned the practice, gradually it became more common for people buying property to partner with the captain to purchase what they wanted. The more common the practice became, the more expensive owning property on the island became, to the point that almost everybody on the island was giving a large portion of their collected coconuts to the coconut merchant each year.
Banks are like the captain of the coconut merchant ship, through interest-bearing debt they make a significant impact on the cost of property in a community.
The price of a home today is no longer determined by how much money people have saved up, and the natural laws of supply and demand. Now the price of a home is largely determined by how much debt people are willing to take from the banks to purchase that home.
It is not difficult to imagine what would happen if banks suddenly stopped issuing loans, or if everybody suddenly decided to forsake getting into debt, and instead began purchasing homes with cash only. The cost of homes would quickly drop significantly! Since people would only be spending money they already had saved, and most people have very little savings.
Bank debt also empowers investors to buy up multiple properties which they can rent out as landlords. This investment buying increases demand for properties, and that in turn once again increases prices of properties, which is not a good thing for the average person.
Sadly when the cost of having a roof over ones head goes up, this influences every other area of life. People must spend more time and energy on paying for housing, and less time and energy on spirituality, health, education, family, serving the community, etc. The world is not a better place because of it. Truly the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10).
Christians should not be making it more difficult for people to have a home but the exact opposite. Jesus reminds us, that when we help provide shelter to a brother who lacks it, it is as if we are giving shelter to Christ Himself. "I was a stranger and you took Me in;" (Matthew 25:35), and when we don't help, it is as if we have done so to Christ, "I was a stranger, and you didn't take me in." (Matthew 25:43).
14) The Impact of Debt on Society and Future Generations
It is clear the availability of credit from banks is one of the main factors that has inflated the price of real estate around the world. The higher cost of housing in turn has led to many other negative side-effects. For example, in many areas the amount the average household pays in home loan repayments is more than half the personal income of the average person.
The higher costs of living may be one of the reasons why many married women are pursuing careers rather than having families, which in turn may be the leading cause of the negative natural population growth in many countries (number of babies being born is below replacement levels). In other words, there are whole entire people groups currently heading towards extinction.
God has instructed mankind to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). It seems pretty obvious that usury helps create a society where the conditions necessary for multiplication are less favorable, causing generational repercussions. A smaller global population is actually exactly what some desire. There are even well-funded organizations with a global depopulation agenda. Interestingly one of the worlds richest banking families (Rockefeller family) have been connected with such organizations. "The Population Council" was founded by John D. Rockefeller III in 1952. The German "Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics" founded in 1927 was funded by The Rockefeller Foundation. This institute is said to have been instrumental in the development of the Nazi's "super race" ideologies, which were at the root of the holocaust.
It is no surprise that those that have the hardness of heart to enrich themselves through mass financial oppression, may also see it appropriate to try and control the reproduction of people whom they see as unworthy to share the same planet with them.
Among the many evils perpetrated against the Israelites while they were enslaved in Egypt was an attack on their ability to multiply. Every male born child was to be thrown in the Nile to drown (Exodus 1:22, Acts 7:19). Interestingly the 10th and final plague that God sent upon Egypt was the death of all the firstborn (Exodus 12:12), and later Pharaohs army was also drowned in the sea.
"If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leads into captivity shall go into captivity: he that kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." (Revelation 13: 9-10).
15) Presumptuousness of Debt
Presumptuousness is among the characteristics described of those that walk after the flesh (2 Peter 2:10-12).
As an example of presumptuousness, consider the people of Israel, God had instructed them that He would not be with them in a certain battle, yet in their arrogance they presumed it was right and believed they had the strength to do it, and they marched right on into battle, and suffered defeat (Deuteronomy 1:43, Numbers 14:40-44). Trouble pursues when we act with a rash confidence in our own strengths, rather than have patient confidence in God and His provision.
Is it not an act of extreme presumption when somebody thinks they lack something, and so marches to a bank to borrow money to buy it.
The borrower must presume they will be able to earn enough money to pay back the loan plus interest, and that circumstances will not change for the worse. The truth is only God knows the future, and we should never presume the future as predictable.
In the book of James we read a warning against arrogant presumptions about the future:
"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:13-16)
A similar message is taught in Proverbs: "Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for you do not know what a day may bring forth." (Proverbs 27:1).
To bind ourselves to paying off a debt, is to commit a part of our future to paying that debt. God alone owns the future, we only ever receive stewardship of the present moment. To get into debt is to sell/pawn our future labor, and if the future belongs to God, are we not selling something that belongs to God? Therefore is not getting into debt robbing God?
If we lack something, we shouldn't presume it to be a bad thing, instead we should appreciate that God may have planned for us, something we haven't conceived. We should live life with the humble attitude of "If the Lord wills", in so doing we are rightly acknowledge the supremacy of God's plan, wisdom, and power.
When somebody takes out a large bank loan, which will take many years to pay off they presume many things.
-They presume that their will is inline with God's will. (Please consider that sin is simply acting independently of God's will, and His will is revealed to us in His word. His will for us is to be content with what we have.)
-They presume that what the Scripture says about being contentment with food and clothing does not apply to their situation.
-They presume they will never fall behind on payments and get trapped in a cycle of insurmountable debt.
-They presume that they will be healthy and able to work to pay off the loan.
-They may presume the price of their house/property will not drop dramatically due to unforeseeable circumstances, such as natural disaster or financial crisis.
-They presume they have the strength of will not to increase their level of debt beyond what they can handle.
-They may presume they will not be faced with unexpected expenses from an accident or illness of a loved one, or birth of a child, or some other event which would require more money than they had budgeted for with a bank loan, making the burden of a large loan unbearable.
-They may presume that God will not call them to work at a job that pays less, or perhaps volunteer in ministry part time, or perhaps even become a full-time missionary with little or no pay.
The same kind of presumptuous thinking is behind those that believe they can eat whatever they want and never get sick, or drive like they want and never suffer the consequences, or live like they want and never be held to account. Scripture says pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18), the truth of this Scripture echoes true in the realm of economics as in every other realm. Prideful delusions of invincibility in the area of finances will eventually lead to an economic downfall.
16) Is Getting into Debt and Usurious Lending of Faith?
Is the person that decides to get into debt acting on a faith in God's good and timely provision of all their needs? Or are they rather trusting themselves and banks to provide?
Is it not idolatry to trust in yourself or anything else more than God? Scripture says that which is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
The only thing we should be presumptuous about is God's promises, and that is called faith. He has promised to look after us multiple times in the Bible (Matthew 7:11, Philippians 4:19, 1 Chronicles 28:20, Matthew 6:31-32, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Psalm 37:25, John 21:6, Luke 12:7), and has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Psalm 27:10, Hebrews 13:5).
It also requires faith in God's provision to be willing to give away your money without expecting anything in return.
Martin Luther in his anti-usury article "A Treatise on Usury" [1524 AD] wrote about people who are afraid to fulfill the command of Jesus to "Give to him that asks of you." (Matthew 5:42):
"for they have not enough trust in God to believe that He can or will maintain them in this wretched life. Therefore, they fear that they would die of hunger or be entirely ruined if they were to do as God commands, and give to everyone that asks them. How, then, can they trust Him to maintain them in eternity? For, as Christ says, “He who does not trust God in a little thing never trusts Him in a great.” And yet they go about thinking that God will make them eternally blessed, and believing that they have good confidence in Him, though they will not heed this commandment of His, by which He would exercise them, and drive them to learn to trust Him in things temporal and eternal." ("Works of Martin Luther, Volume 4" Published by A. J. Holman Company, 1915, vol. 4).
17) Debt Punishes Children
The burden of interest-bearing debt is often passed down generations. The Bible teaches against punishing children for their fathers sins (Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 18:20). There are not many things sadder than an innocent child being born into debt slavery!
Also consider that the Bible calls a person a fool who devours that which he has (Proverbs 21:20), is he not a greater fool who spends money that he doesn't even own? Many nations around the world are in huge amounts of debt, that may take many generations to pay off. Is it not utterly disgraceful foolishness to dip into the pockets of ones children and children's children. The Bible says a good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children (Proverb 13:22). Sadly nations are leaving their children debts, rather than an inheritance.
Debt robs children of their parents time and attention. The more debt a household is in, the more time and energy parents must render in service to the debt, meaning less time they have available for the sacred duty of raising children. One of the top regrets expressed by those facing death due to a terminal illness has been said to be they worked too hard, and failed to spend time with family and friends.
18) What Motivates Getting into Debt
What are the root motives why people get into debt, are they of the flesh nature, or of the holy divine nature?
Is getting into debt more likely an act of impatience or patience? Proverbs speaks of being hasty and being in want as closely related (Proverbs 21:5).
Pride makes people believe they are the master of their own destiny, rather than humbly acknowledging that God is in control of everything.
Buying on interest-bearing credit can be a means for people to feel like they are in control of their destiny.
The fact is financial slavery usually begins with inner slavery to sin. One of the greatest soul ensnaring sins is lusting after something that we should not desire. This is one of Satan's most deceptive and original tricks to enslave mankind. He even convinced Adam and Eve they needed something more, even though they were already enjoying the perfection and abundance of Eden. In the same way today, getting into debt slavery is often a symptom of lusting after things we do not need.
Scripture speaks against the love of mammon, Jesus said it is impossible to serve both God and mammon (Luke 16:13).
Our relationship to money should be strictly guarded that it does not compete with our relationship with God.
Would getting into debt encourage a person to serve God better? Or is it more likely to tempt them to serve mammon?
A debt agreement is basically an agreement to surrender a portion of our future labor in service of paying back money borrowed with interest.
Should a Christian agree to such servitude to money?
An example to consider: Is a Christian in debt more or less free to answer a call to become a missionary in a foreign land?
19) Getting into debt is a failure to cherish and protect life and liberty.
Getting into debt always comes with high risks. It is comparable to gambling with the future happiness and freedom of yourself, and your family. Proverbs speaks against being security for debts, because it can lead to losing your bed (Proverbs 22:26-27).
A person who never gambles is obviously safer from the financial problems caused by gambling, than somebody who believes they can gamble a little, and keep within safe limits.
Likewise those that decide to live 100% debt-free are safer from debt-related financial woes than those who think they can handle a little debt.
Rather than flirt with sin. We are called to flee sin (1 Corinthians 10:14, 2 Timothy 2:22, 1 Timothy 6:10-11).
We should cherish the life and liberty God has graced us with. Rather than gamble with such sacred gifts as if they were cheap plastic chips in a casino, we should diligently protect them from the dangers of enslaving debt and other harmful influences.
20) The Injustice of Usury
Usury is clearly a means by which the less fortunate are exploited for the benefit of the rich, which the Bible repeatedly speaks against, such as:
"He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to want." (Proverbs 22:16).
As God's people we are called to stand up for justice:
"Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy." (Psalm 82:3)
"To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice." (Proverbs 21:3)
Banks often lend money to people that lack the maturity and wisdom to handle finances. Is this not taking advantage of the weak?
Can it ever be right to lend money at interest to the poor so they can satisfy their needs? Would it not be considered exploitation of the poor?
21) Debt Fuels Economic Weakness
It is easy to see that debt is the central cause of the great financial problems that trouble the world today, and has been behind great economic depressions in history.
Such economic problems may have been easily prevented if heed had been taken to the biblical teaching of being content with having enough (1 Timothy 6:8, Hebrews 13:5). Unfortunately the world and its banking system evangelize a completely opposite message that "more is better", and "having something now is better than waiting".
To understand how banks are like cancer to an economy, consider which of the following two options is better for an economy?
1) People invest their spare wealth into usurious banks which do not produce any real wealth, but simply drain wealth from those that produce wealth.
2) People invest their spare wealth into productive projects that actually produce real goods and services that help the community.
Which option helps reduce cost of goods?
The more productive activity within a society, the less goods and services should cost due to increased availability.
However, if a large amount of debt is held by companies and individuals, the more they must charge for their goods and services to make a profit.
Which option helps create employment?
More money invested into productive activity means more people employed.
However, if more money is channeled into usurious banking, it means there is less money to employ people in productive activity.
When a government has interest-bearing debt, this is also damaging to an economy, since more debt means more interest the government has to pay on the money it owes, which means the government must collect more taxes from the people, which means the people have less money to spend and invest in productive activity.
So in short the usurious banking system helps create higher taxes, higher unemployment, and higher cost of living.
Some people falsely assume a country could not prosper or function if there was no usurious banking industry. History has proven otherwise.
Israel reached the pinnacle of its prosperity under the reign of king Solomon, even though interest-bearing loans of any form among the Israelites was completely forbidden by law.
Scripture says "And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom." (2 Chronicles 9:22)
Solomon acknowledged, "The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it." (Proverbs 10:22).
King Solomon had a clear stance regarding usury, among his proverbs it is written "He that by usury and unjust gain increases his possessions, gathers it for him who will pity the poor." (Proverbs 28:8).
22) Usury: A Tool for Oppressing Nations
Throughout history usurious money lending has been one of the most prized tools of oppressors.
In Proverbs Solomon warns, "Do not envy the oppressor, And choose none of his ways;" (Proverbs 3:31).
Even today, debt is used by rich entities such as large corporations or governments to oppress poorer nations. For example, a rich entity might desire the resources and/or allegiance of a certain country, so they convince the poor nations government to take on huge loans to build infrastructure such as roads, ports, dams, power stations, etc. The infrastructure may then be built by private companies owned by the rich entity which channel the funds back to the rich entity. Once the poorer nation is in huge amounts of debt, they become subservient to the lending entity, which is then able to easily manipulate them for their own benefits such as:
1) Make lucrative deals for natural resources, for example the master entity can buy oil for cheap.
2) Military cooperation, for example allow the master entity to have military bases on their soil.
3) Political support, for example the enslaved country is compelled to vote according to the master entitities desires in UN voting.
Such financial oppression of entire nations through debt has been a cause and sustainer of much poverty in the world, and we can only imagine how many countless people have starved to death as a result of it.
23) Usury: A Wage of Unrighteousness?
Most people enjoy being at the receiving end of self-sacrificial generosity, kindness, and honesty. The world admires such virtues much more than they admire things like selfishness, meanness, and greed. However, though people may admire the self-sacrificial virtues, often that admiration is overpowered by a deeper love for the profits that come from self-interest, greed, and moral laxity. For example, an evil king tried to bribe the prophet Balaam to curse Israel (Numbers 22:17), at first he refused, but later he gave the king advice on how to get the Israelites to bring a curse upon themselves by enticing them to commit fornication and eat things sacrificed to idols (Revelation 2:14).
The temptation of easy money at the expense of morality is a strong one. Even though many people may not morally agree with how banks make their money, they may still choose to invest their money with them because they enjoy the easy money they receive in the form of interest/dividends payments. But is this not following the way of Balaam? Who may not have fancied unrighteousness, but he definitely loved the wages of unrighteousness.
"Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;" (2 Peter 2:15)
"Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." (Jude 1:11)
If we acknowledge usury to be wrong, we need to manage our money accordingly. James writes that he who knows what is right, and doesn't do it is sinning (James 4:16).
Like Balaam, we each have a choice to either bow down to the idol of mammon and enjoy the temporary pleasures it may reward us with, or worship the only true and living God, and enjoy His eternal blessings.
24) Deception and Usury
Part of the reason why some people fall into the trap of debt, is because banks deceptively portray themselves as a friend, who is there to help you fulfill your dreams, help build up the community, and make the world a better place. Unfortunately the image they portray is a deceptive lie. The truth is banks are not some kind of friendly neighborhood community services, they are for profit companies with the supreme agenda of making money at the expense of hard-working individuals. If you fail to meet their payment deadlines, they will not overlook it like a good kind friend, they will mercilessly pursue funds owed to them. Their core business model undermines community and destroys life.
Banks try and deceive people to think otherwise, by sponsoring TV shows, sports teams, para-Olympics, and other positive recreational activities. But really, it may be considered equivalent to slave masters giving their slaves a little entertainment to distract them from their true state of being. The worst kind of adversaries are those that pretend to be our friends.
The positive marketing efforts of the banks are also a means for banks to try and whitewash their darker activities, and create in peoples mind a positive image of what they do. In the same way some oppressive and greedy people in Jesus day tried to put on an outward show of goodness, but Jesus rebuked them saying:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27)".
25) Usury and Greed
If the world was free from greed would such a thing as usury exist?
Would we have usury or greed if everybody in the world loved their neighbor as themselves?
Is not greed simply a manifestation of a proud heart, that sees itself as more worthy of material goods than others?
Is not greed also a result of allowing the heart to be filled with a fear of lack, rather than a faith in God's perfect provision?
Is not humility seeing other people as equally important as yourself, and having the desire to freely share with others as if they were an extension of your own being, rather than desiring to deprive them in any way?
It is easy to conclude that usury is more closely connected with greed, pride, and fear, rather than generosity, humility, and faith.
In the end greed enriches nobody, it destroys the human ecosystem each of us is a part of. Greed is like the tree in the forest that believes it is more entitled to the land than the rest of the forest. It fails to appreciate that it is entirely dependent on the forest ecosystem. On its own it would die. Each plant plays an equally important part in the life of the forest. Each helping the other. Some plants prevent soil erosion, others buffer drying winds, others provide shade, etc.
Who wants to live in a community contaminated with greed? A destabilized society where crime and violence is rampant, and where people are enslaved, oppressed, impoverished?
Much debt is taken out by investors so they can own multiple real-estate investment properties. Is it a mark of contentment and love of ones neighbour to want to own multiple houses over which you can be landlord? John the Baptist, seeking to guide the backsliden Israel away from the path that leads to destruction instructed the people saying "He that has two coats, let him give to him that has none; and he that has food, let him do likewise." (Luke 3:11). For when pride infests hearts, people will fail to care for one another, and instead they will become unloving and oppressive. Can such hearts expect the blessings of Gods mercy? Jesus said "For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:38, Mark 4:24).
Having a roof over ones head is one of the basic necessities of life, yet sadly investors play with homes like plastic bits on a board game, seeking to milk as much money out of the game as possible.
Would it be right to lend money to those that do not lack the necessities of life, but instead want to spend it on satisfying non-essential greeds which they are lusting after? Would it not be considered facilitating, empowering, and encouraging greed, lust, impatience, and discontent?
For example would you lend money to a rich greedy landlord to buy up more properties from which he can make himself even richer? Would not lending money to that person be facilitating their greed? The fact is banks love to lend money to such rich landlords.
26) Does Usury Bear Good Witness to God's kingdom?
Those outside Christianity often seek reasons to hate Christians. Many non-religious people and adherents of other religions have seen the light regarding the usurious banking system. Therefore every Christian should seriously consider the main arguments for and against the rejection of usury. If Christians who partake in usury cannot give solid biblical reasons for partaking in usury, how can they answer somebody from outside of the Christian faith who asks: "Doesn't Jesus teach to lend money without seeking return? Doesn't that make you a hypocrite for partaking in the usurious banking system? Should you not have a ready defense for such an accusation if you partake in usury?
Just as Pilate could not find fault with Jesus, neither could those that sought to trap Daniel find anything to bring him down. Christians should be living blameless and pure lives, so as to not bring reproach to their Lord. People should see our good works and glorify God!
"That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing." (1 Thessalonians 4:11-13)
"Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." (1 Timothy 3:7)
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
27) Usury and Other Religions
Usury is also an important issue for Christians that seek to bring people of other faiths to Jesus. Especially other religions that condemn usury as a wrong. The fact that there is very little Christian opposition to usury in our day, may be a poor witness of Christ to adherents of other religions that may be examining to find out if Christianity is the only true and holy way.
The Muslim Quran states "Those who devour usury will not stand except as stand one whom the Evil one by his touch Hath driven to madness. That is because they say: "Trade is like usury," but Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. Those who after receiving direction from their Lord, desist, shall be pardoned for the past; their case is for Allah (to judge); but those who repeat (The offence) are companions of the Fire: They will abide therein (for ever). Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loveth not creatures ungrateful and wicked." (2:275-276 translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali [1934-37])
In a sacred text of the Hindu religion we find:
"He who cohabits with a non-Aryan woman, he who lends money at interest, he who drinks (other) spirituous liquors (than Surâ), he who praises everybody in a manner unworthy of a Brâhmana, shall sit on grass, allowing his back to be scorched (by the sun)." (The Sacred Laws of the Âryas, Apastamba Dharmasutra 188.8.131.52, translated by Georg Bühler )
In ancient Buddhist writings we also find disapproval of usury. In the Jatakas, there is a story of a king of the gods, called Sakka who wanted to fight the decay of religion, and so he made the god Matali into the shape of a huge black hound, and took it with him on a trip to scare people back to religion. When Sakka was asked to describe the kind of wicked people the hound would devour, his description included the following:
"What time ascetics, usurers, protruding the upper lip,
Foul-toothed and filthy-haired shall be—the Black Hound I'll let slip."
(The Jataka, Vol. IV: No. 469 translated by W.H.D. Rouse, )
If Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists all lived up to what their religion says about usury, the world would be a much better place!
28) Erring on the Side of Caution
Imagine you are about to have a surprise party for somebody you love dearly. You want to have lots of food they love at the party, you know they hate the taste of certain types of fish, including salmon and trout. However, you are unsure if they like sardines. Though you do recall that as a child they hated sardines. But you also know they are now ok with some foods they used to hate. Now consider, would it be wise to take a gamble and have sardines at the party as one of the main dishes? or would it be safer to avoid sardines?
The truth is our life is called to be a daily celebration of our Creator. And we know for a fact that God hates injustice, greed, oppression, prideful presumptuousness, his people being yoked with sinners, covetousness, idolatry, partiality, hypocrisy, hoarding of earthly riches, etc. We also know God has considered usury a gross abomination in the past among the people of Israel. Now would it be a wise decision to seek to celebrate God's goodness by partnering with the modern usurious banking system? Which is intimately connected with many of the things we know for a fact that God hates? Or would it be more wise to avoid it?
A part of James' description of pure religion is to keep oneself unspotted from the world:
"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27).
29) Breaking Free from Banks
Many Christians that have come to a conviction of how ungodly and harmful the usurious banking system is have decided to be separated from such a system.
Doing so is quite simple, a banks main source of power is in people depositing money with them to gain interest, and people borrowing money from them at interest. Therefore, the best way to stop empowering the system would be to:
1) Keep your money invested elsewhere, such as in cash, or invested in land, precious metals, a productive business, etc.
2) Not borrow money from banks at interest.
Some Christians who are against the usurious banking may not have any objection of conscience to having a bank account if it is only used for sending and receiving sums of money, and funds are not held in the bank longer than needed to facilitate a transaction, and the account does not bear interest. For example they might have a bank account to receive wages from their employer, which they withdraw soon after receiving them, and they may deposit cash into the account when they need to send funds to somewhere else.
This kind of a relationship with banks might be compared to hiring somebody to transport cash/property between two parties. Using the banks transaction services, would not necessarily equate to partnering with them in their other more questionable activities. But there may be other ways to facilitate sending and receiving money without banks.
Some Christians who are against usury, may believe it is best to not have a bank account at all for any purpose. Some may even decide that keeping savings in cash is to partake in usury, since the paper money we have today is simply backed by the promise of the issuing government, and most governments are in large amounts of usurious debt, which means the currency itself is indirectly backed by usurious debt rather than something real. In past times governments issued money backed by gold stored in vaults, and you could exchange your paper notes for gold at any time.
One way to avoid usury-backed government money is to partake in bartering and non-usury based mediums of exchange such as gold and silver coins, which have been used as money for thousands of years. The use of such coins is growing in popularity around the world, especially among adherents of faiths that reject usury.
Some other peaceful ways to take action against usury:
-Paying with cash rather than bank cards, since banks usually make a profit on transactions paid with a card. Why reward usurious banks for being an unnecessary middleman?
-Teach family and friends about the wisdom of avoiding credit, and lead by example.
-Rebuke those that call themselves Christian, yet live a life marked by greed and covetousness. The apostle Paul writes not to keep company with such Christians, and not even eat with them (1 Corinthians 5:11), please note this does not apply to those that do not call themselves Christians.
-Write to political leaders to forsake partnering with the financial slavery through usury. Including governments helping students get cheap student loans, governments subsidizing mortgage debt, and governments bailing out failing banks at the expense of the general populace.
-When voting consider where political leaders stand in regards to usurious debt.
-Boycott and avoid companies that make profits from promoting usury. Their are obvious ones, and less obvious ones. For example consider Google Inc. which makes most of its money from advertising, and some of its largest advertisers are banks, credit card companies, and other usurious financial institutions.
-Boycott and avoid companies with large investments in usurious activity. For example Apple Inc. has many billions of dollars of cash invested in different ways, the public doesn't know how a large portion of their cash is invested, but it has been reported that their investments include about $21 billion of US government debt, $7 billion in government debt of other countries in the form of "sovereign securities", and $9 billion in mortgage and asset-backed securities, and they collect multiple billions of dollars of usury/dividends on these investments each year.
-Consider whether your retirement savings (Superannuation, 401(k), etc.) are invested in ways that align with your personal ethics regarding usury.
-Consider seeking employment only in companies that do not partake in or promote usurious debt.
-Write letters to lawmakers to protect/allow the freedom to use alternative mediums of exchange, such as gold and silver coins, which are usury-free money.
-If your government is in debt, consider whether accepting money from it in the form of things like social security payments is actually accepting debt money, which somebody has to eventually pay for with interest. Social security is one of the biggest drains on governments and a leading cause for governments to get into debt. Social security should only really be a consideration for those that cannot survive without it.
-The opposite of partaking in usury is to give of ones productive labor for the greater good of society, therefore consider seeking employment where your energies can be spent producing goods and services that are essential and beneficial to society.
-Protect yourself and your family from media and advertising propaganda that seeks to influence peoples thinking towards instant gratification, materialism, debt, etc. Replace them with positive influences like studying Scripture, prayer time, and good Christian fellowship.
-Share this article with others, it is public domain, so you can copy and share it freely without any limitations. You can even modify/delete sections of it, if you don't like some parts of it.
It must be acknowledged that ultimately the root reason why things like usury exist in the world today, is because of the wickedness in each human heart that is separated from harmony with God. A corrupt heart that is spiritually enslaved by pride, greed, and other sins can never be set free by outward regulation, education, or other human means. The only real cure for a sinful heart is the miracle of new birth, which is a work of God's Spirit, done in the hearts of all that acknowledge their inner bankruptcy, and in humble faith surrender their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, who out of love for the world died on a cross for all our sins, and rose again to live forevermore! In coming to know the reality of God's selfless love for us personally, our heart cannot but be filled with love for Him, and fellow humanity.
Therefore the fight against injustices like usury is only partly about educating people of its woes and the wisdom of avoiding it. But the greatest action we can take against injustice is to point people to Jesus, and allow His words, His presence, and His example bring transformation into peoples lives one heart at a time. May His kingdom come!
"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32).
|Brought to you by Terje Ronneberg|
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