Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Do not be deceived, Parable of the Talents is NOT an endorsement of Usury

Many in the modern Church think that the moral prohibition on usury, that is, any interest on a loan, in the Old Testament, is restricted to only one's brother, or the poor. They think that it does not apply to loans made to one who is not one's brother. The reason why one would think that would be out of one's own selfishness and legalism. There could be no other reason. 

Why, you may ask? Usury is that which in and of itself is a sin, which one can know from one's own conscience. It is what the hard-hearted, unloving, self-centred and oppressive do as the Parable of Talents indicates in Matthew 25:24-28:

Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.  Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

It may look as if Jesus was saying that usury is not sin, but rather, righteous in Matthew 25:24-27. However, that is a misinterpretation, by  literalising the allegoricals. When Jesus was telling of the master's response to the wicked servant, He was saying that if a wicked servant like him thought the master was a hard man, he should, according to this belief,  done something with the talents which enabled him to make gains for the master in the easy way, that is by usury. He was judging the wicked servants according to his own word. Luke 19:20-24 which is speaking about the same wicked servant in the same parable gives indication of this:

And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.

Usury is portrayed in the Parable of Talents or Minas implicitly as easy money. The master judges the servant according to the servants own word and effectively asks him, that if he is so lazy, why could he not have at least deposited the master's money at interest. This is not the praising or complimenting of usury or usurers. Neither of the two good servants in Matthew 25:20-23, or Luke 19:15-19 were praised for depositing the talents in the bank at usury. Rather Luke 19:15 indicates it was gained by trading, not usury.

Usury is akin to gambling. God hates gambling because it is against His will that humans work the earth (Genesis 2:15), and not make easy money, money which comes without labour. Usury is indulgent use of property, instead of faithful stewardship of the earth.

Therefore, the moral prohibition applies to all people, whether it be for one's brother or one's enemy.