Sunday, 12 February 2017

How the idea that Usury was Wrong Simply because it could be used to "Take Advantage of People" opened the door to All Usury. The Law of Love makes it clear that Usury is Sin.

A particular moral position taken by a person may be right, but for the wrong, that is, unbiblical reasons. A person may even have the right reasons for being against a wrong, but have the wrong, that is, unbiblical approach in fighting it. 

Opposition to usury, simply on the grounds that it could be used to "take advantage of someone", rather than because God hates usury, has lead to the total endorsement of usury in the west. This was indeed the argument made by John Calvin, who argued that whether usury was wrong was dependent on whether it was "equitable" or not. It is this very distinction itself between "equitable" and "unequitable" usury which opened the door for support for usury.

This argument can be referred to as the 'slippery slope' argument. So, what is a slippery slope argument? It is an argument which in supporting something, for which one must logically conclude that one must support another thing of the same kind, but of a greater degree. For example, support for sodomite marriage is the support of marriage between any persons, or living things, on the basis they "love" each other. If marriage is not longer the conjugal union between a man and his wife, a woman as the Bible prescribes (Mark 10:6-9), then it follows that there is no boundaries to what marriage is, as long as the two (or more!) people, or animals love each other. 

So, likewise, if one argues that a "small amount" of usury is legitimate, then what is the limit to how much usury can be charged? One might argue, cunningly, as Calvin did, that it is what the parties "agree" to be equitable. So, what is right is determined by whether two flawed, sinful, wicked human beings agree? You might that that just two human beings agree does not mean it is wrong. But that does not make it right either. You might then argue this is is unequivocal and depends on the circumstances as to what a reasonable third party would have thought, as not everything is about whether the Bible specifically prescribes something. Thus, you argue, whether usury is right or wrong is solely dependent on the secular law of contract of the relevant jurisdiction applied to the individuals.

Such a vile argument does not apply to the issue of usury as usury is a sin (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:35-37; Deuteronomy 23:19-20; Ezekiel 18:13, 18:17, 22:12; Psalm 15:5 Luke 6:34-35). Usury is the manifestation of the love of money, and is not love. Even if one could not be equivocally clear as to whether usury is sin based on the reading of the Biblical text itself, usury can clearly a manifestation of greed, unforgiveness, and the antithesis of usury. It is clearly not love. How could you say you love your neighbour if you charge usury on him or her?

You may say that banks charge usury. Exactly, banks are known be greedy, merciless and unforgiving towards those who owe them money, and harsh. They embody the ways of the world. Indeed, Jesus said in the Parable of the Minas:

 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? (Luke 19:20-23)

This is not Jesus implying that usury is righteous or justified in saying that a wicked servant was wicked because he did not charge usury. This is especially so, given that it is to be noted that the two good servants are not indicated to have charged usury. No, rather, the master was judging the wicked servant by his own mouth, saying that if he thinks that the master was a hard or austere man, he should have done in accordance to what a hard man does which is to lend by charging usury. In other words, charging usury is what a hard man does. 'Austere' in Luke 19:21 has been described by Barnes' Notes on the Bible to mean:

An austere man - Hard, severe, oppressive. The word is commonly applied to unripe fruit, and means "sour," unpleasant; harsh. In this case it means that the man was taking every advantage, and, while "he" lived in idleness, was making his living out of the toils of others.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible explains it this way:

because thou art an austere man; cruel and uncompassionate to his servants, and hard to be pleased; than which nothing is more false, since it is evident, that Christ is compassionate both to the bodies and souls of men; is a merciful high priest, and is one that has compassion on the ignorant, and them that are out of the way, and cannot but be touched with the feeling of his people's infirmities; and is mild and gentle in his whole deportment, and in all his administrations: 

thou takest up that thou layest not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow; suggesting, that he was covetous of that which did not belong to him, and withheld what was due to his servants, and rigorously exacted service that could not be performed; a most iniquitous charge, since none so liberal as he, giving gifts, grace and glory, freely; imposing no grievous commands on men; his yoke being easy, and his burden light; never sending a man to a warfare at his own charge; but always giving grace and strength proportionable to the service he calls to, and rewarding his servants in a most bountiful manner, infinitely beyond their deserts.
To say that whether usury is right depends on whether the borrower and lender 'agree' is like saying that whether two people fornicate or commit adultery depends on whether they 'consent'. That is exactly what the problem with the argument that the legitimacy of usury is dependent on the borrower and lender. Usury itself is a sin, because it violates the Law of Love, as the Lord Jesus Christ proclaims:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
(Matthew 22:37-40)