Monday, 14 December 2015

God's Moral Prohibition on Usury which applies to All Loans, not just Loans to the Poor

Many in the modern Church, including conservative Christian theologians, think that the prohibition of usury in the Old Testament was only applicable to loans to the poor, and permitted to all other loans. They even try to argue that by not charging usury, one is sinning, loving to (mis)use verses like 1 Timothy 5:8 to make such a vile, abominable, disgusting argument. 

On the face of it, it may seem as though only charging usury against the poor was prohibited by God: "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). This raises the question as to why in Exodus 22, only charging interest to the poor is mentioned. In Old Testament Israel and throughout the ancient world, it was mostly the poor who borrowed money for their basic needs. So, this is why this command was directed to how to treat the poor.

There are clear instances in the Bible where there is no indication that the prohibition of usury only applied to loans made to the poor. Ezekiel 18:13 says: "Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him." In Ezekiel 18:12, Ezekiel rebukes the people by making a list of sins: "Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination" which is continued in Ezekiel 18:13. Oppression of the poor and needy is listed as one sin, separate from usury in Ezekiel 18:12-13. This indicates that the law against usury was not because it oppressed the poor, but rather because usury itself is a sin. 

The idea that usury is sin because it oppresses the poor is argue that usury is a sin only because of its consequences for people. This makes it a humanistic argument, inconsistent with Biblical laws and doctrine which are no respecters of person for God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11; Acts 10:34). Any Bible interpretation that makes the Word of God out to be a respecter of humans, considering the consequences for people, and how people feel about it, is unbiblical as indicated by the humanism itself.

 It is clear from Ezekiel 18:12-13 that usury is a sin in and of itself, a sin separate from oppression of the poor. The issue with usury or any sin is not whether it makes people richer or poorer. That an action makes people richer or poorer does in no way determine whether it is sin. Rather, it is one's manner of spirit which determines whether it is sin, that is, whether it out of love for God or love for the flesh. Sin is that which by that action, thought, word or deed, in and of itself is offensive to God, because it can never ever by done in a manner of spirit pleasing to God. The very nature of the action, thought, word or deed is the despising of God:

Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised Me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife (2 Samuel 12:9-10). 

To sin is itself to despise God. To despise God is to do that which offends Him, or that which is pleasing to Him, but in a manner of spirit displeasing to Him. 

Usury is sin because it itself is not only greed, but a perversion of God's will for humanity to lend. His Will is to lend freely and willingly as reflected by the Old Testament Moral Laws which apply to all of humanity. Therefore, lending at interest is a perversion of the God-ordained way of lending money.