Thursday, August 25, 2022

Student Loan Forgiveness and Christianity

It has been a long time since I wrote a blog; however, I have seen the past 24 hours some pretty bad theology and a lot of talking past each other as it relates to the recent student loan forgiveness.  For example, I have seen posts on social media and memes that read this:

If you are Christian and wondering how to feel about student loan forgiveness, remember that your entire faith teaches you that someone paid off your entire debt. 

I have seen other memes and statements that compare student loan debt forgiveness to the generous manager of Matthew 20.  [In Matthew 20 God is compared to a manager who hires workers throughout different times of the day and pays them all an agreed upon amount, which happens to be the same amount.  At the end of the day when He settles accounts the ones' hired first are upset because they get the same amount as the ones hired last.  The Lord corrects those hired first by reminding them they received the agreed upon amount and they ought not be upset at His generosity.]

I have also seen memes where people compare student loan forgiveness to the petition in the Lord's Prayer, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."  

In addition I have seen student loan debt forgiveness compared to the year of Jubilee in the Bible where all debts were forgiven.  

All four examples above, I must believe, are disingenuous. I truly believe those who say such things are not truly attempting to compare the current government's plan to release debtors of student loans to the Christian God's act on the cross and empty tomb. They are simply attempting to shame any Christian that disagrees with the current administration's plan to transfer student debt to the entire citizenry to their faith; and if they are upset about it then they are bad Christians.  

This is just not so.  I believe faithful Christians can disagree over this policy.  

One thing to be sure:  the heart of Christianity absolutely is debt forgiveness.  Debt forgiveness is good.  Without question.  Our entire debt of sin has been paid at Calvary.  Here is the glaring difference between this and the above examples:  God didn't demand anyone else to pay the debt of other people's sins.  He paid the debt entirely Himself.  

If some amazingly rich benefactor decided to take his/her own resources and wipe out 10-20 thousand dollars of debt for every single student loan individual making under 125000 dollars, I truly don't think anyone would be upset.  We would all rejoice over this man or woman's generosity.  That, my friends, is what God did.  He paid the debt Himself willingly.  He didn't make other people subsume the debt of others unwillingly and by force.  He paid for our poor choices Himself; He didn't make Sally pay for Bill's poor choices.

The question at hand is whether it is right, under these conditions, to make our neighbors' pay for the debts of their neighbors through taxation.  [And here, do not misread that I am fully against this.  I am not]  The disabled, the sufferer, the mentally ill, the economically unstable, etc...all get assistance through government programs that we, as a society through taxation, pay for.  We all pay for our neighbors' children to go to public schools, even if we never have children.  We all pay for roads even if we do not have cars, and so on and so forth.  But in all the above cases we, the people, pay for the benefit of others, assumingly because we believe that their benefit will benefit society in general.  Which is what we ought to be discussing.  Is making the collective citizenry pay for the student loan debts of others beneficial to the general society?  Is that good policy?  Does the executive branch even have this kind of authority?  These are the questions; and by golly they are good ones.  And I am ready to debate these questions; but for all that is holy do not tell me that what the government just did is what God Himself did...that's blasphemous.  God's benevolence is so overwhelmingly surpassed by any action of government.  The government, as it always does in any social welfare action, is making other people pay for their neighbors.  God paid all of our debt out of His own stockpile of benevolence, generosity, and goodness.  He asked nothing from us, because we would have messed it up.  God did it all Himself.  

And, perhaps, being the receptor of such amazing grace, we ought to be willing to give grace to everyone that we meet.  We have all made poor choices.  I know I have made poor financial choices.  Others, out of their goodness and love, truly helped me out.  We ought to help out our neighbors' too.  But there's a world of difference between someone willingly giving of their resources to benefit you and being forced governmentally through taxation to pay for the financial choices of others.   I know a great many people that have suffered under loans they ought not have taken.  Personally, I rejoice that maybe their burden has been lifted.  Just don't tell me forcing others to pay your debt is what God did.  He didn't.  He never forced you to pay for my sins.  He certainly did not force me to pay for yours.  He did that all Himself. 

God bless,


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