Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The Prohibition of Usury is NOT contingent on Oppression of the Poor and Needy

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,  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 (Ezekiel 18:12-13).

It is very tempting to think that the Biblical prohibition on usury is merely a civil law of Israel, which God gave to stop oppression of the poor and needy. This is precisely the logic which many in the modern Church are leaning towards, by arguing that the prohibition on usury only applied to loans made to the poor. This line of reasoning leads to the conclusion that the prohibition on usury in the Bible is was only part of the civil law, not the Moral Law of God, on the grounds that usury in those days oppressed the poor.

Such a line of reasoning is a very dangerous one. It makes out a Moral Law of God, prohibition of usury into merely a civil law of Israel, applicable only to Old Testament Israel. It is also very dangerous for a second reason. This reason is that it makes the prohibition of usury only that is only dependent on the circumstances, whether it oppresses or hurts people, in particular the poor and needy. It applies secular situation ethics to the issue of usury. This is a vile, disgusting doctrine of demons from the pit of Hell! It is seeking to pervert the Law of God, out of one's own double-mindedness in supporting a prohibition of usury out of fear of how one will be charged usury, but yet endorsing usury where it does not affect oneself. 

A more subtle danger of this rationalising of the Moral Prohibition on usury is that it is of favouritism towards the poor. It is a manifestation of favouritism towards the poor and needy, in the same way Western culture is biased towards the underdog out of its pernicious, vile, disgusting, false sense of humanistic sympathy. How, you may ask? 

It perverts a clear commandment of God (Ezekiel 18:13) not to charge usury at all, into one which depends on whether it is charged against the poor or not. It is to apply different standards in judging the poor and rich, in this case being the poor, by regarding the usury prohibition to be applicable only to them, but not the rich.  Many of you probably do not even realise how you have been showing favouritism toward the poor. This is in no way to claim that one should favour the rich. Anyone who favours the rich should be ashamed in himself. 

Here is what the Bible says about favouritism towards both the rich and the poor: 

Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour (Leviticus 19:15).

Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause. Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. (Exodus 23:3, 6).

There is a such thing as favouritism towards the poor by both the unsaved and saved. It manifests in seeking to only give money to the poor, whether it is wise to do so or not, or seeking more money to be given to the poor, regardless of whether their own actions lead to their poverty, such as through laziness or drunkeness. It also manifests in seeking to give money to the poor, only because they are poor, or being sympathetic towards them, because of their earthly temporal plight. This are various manifestations of the spirit behind socialism, communism, the poverty "gospel", and many Christian social justice movements, which are sympathetic towards the poor, only because of their merely earthly, temporal poverty. 

In Ezekiel 18:12-13, several abominations are listed. These include oppressing the poor and needy, idolatry, violence and usury. Oppression of the poor and needy, and usury are listed as separate sins. This indicates that usury per se is regarded by God as a sin, not contingent on whether it oppresses the poor and needy, and that oppression of the poor and needy per se is regarded by God as a sin, not contingent on whether it involves usury.

Usury is a sin, not because of how it affects people, or even because of its oppressive effect on the poor and needy. It is a sin because God says it is a sin in and of itself.