Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Why the Prohibition on Usury was Not because it could be "Used to take Advantage of Someone"

If there is nothing that sickens me more, the argument that the Bible prohibited usury on the grounds that it could be used to advantage of someone sickens me the most. It truly does. This belief is simply the manifestation of the spirit of mammon, for it is a self-centred, humanistic view of the Biblical view of usury. It is opposed to the true Biblical spirit. 

One of the signs that a person is perverting true Biblical teaching is that the spirit in which the person explains a teaching is one which is apologetic for the Biblical teaching, and resistant towards simply expressing it unapologetically and boldly. 

Another sign is that a person appears to be very theological in using all kinds of doctrinal theological arguments, but is using this as a guise to avoid the key issue which they want to avoid because it exposes sin in them. They think they are very doctrinally sound, but are full of error, and think that anyone else who explains a concept differently from them is "misinterpreting" or "mishandling" the Bible. 

This is all very common among reformed calvinist circles, and evangelicals, one may suspect. 

One such argument that people seek to find in the Bible, in claiming to be so theologically and doctrinally sound by taking the text, and not imposing belief onto the text,  but yet ironically do themselves, is that God prohibited usury, merely because it was used to "take advantage of people".

No where in the Bible does it indicate that the prohibition on usury was based on this alleged rationale that it was used to "take advantage of people", namely the poor. 

To those of you who claim to read the Bible "in context" and yet use this argument, let's see how you really do read the Bible in context.

And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.

36 Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.
37 Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.
(Leviticus 25:35-37).

Many of you simply say that the Old Testament only prohibited usury against the poor, and yet claim to be so doctrinally sound. So, how about this: the usury prohibition refers to poor people because money in ancient Israel was lent to the poor. It was they who borrowed money. Since Old Testament civil laws were written for the Israel of that time, it would encapsulate the circumstances of the time. The reference to the poor in the verses which express the Biblical prohibition on usury simply reflect this context. That the verses refer to the charging usury against the poor does not mean that usury against the 'rich' was acceptable under the Old Testament Law, or the Moral Law of God as it stands forever more.

You might say, "if the prohibition on usury was a civil law, then how would it apply today?". The prohibition was written in the civil law of Israel, but does not mean it is not part of the Moral Law of God, as many of you would like to think, out of your own sinful rebellion endorsement of usury.

If you are confused, just ask yourself, "is is love to charge usury?" Or, let's turn it around. How would you like it if someone charged YOU usury? Perhaps this is the best way to get so many of you to understand usury, by directing the question towards you. Is it loving towards your neighbour, that is, anyone you come in contact with, to charge usury against him? 

When someone asked Jesus, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" in Matthew 22:36, Jesus responded saying:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

(Matthew 22:37-40).

Those truly are glorious words. They are glorious not because they make one feel warm on the inside. They are glorious because it upholds who God is, and the whole of the Law of God. God is love. 1 John 4:8 says: He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.These are no trite words, but they are made trite because people often quote that flippantly. 

What the Bible means when it says God is love, is not to give one a lovey-dovey feeling at all, and to make one feel good. No, it is to say that because God is love, one must love, which is an absolutely impossible thing to do in one's own flesh, for the flesh does not submit to God, nor can submit to God (Romans 8:7-8). Since God commands that humans are to love, but the flesh is against God, one cannot love. Thus, the statement that 'God is love' is to show how wicked people are by failing to love, in contrast to how God loves. It is not to make one feel so loved by God as so many people in the modern Church think. 

Yet, on the other hand, it is to encourage the follower of Christ to love. Love here is not the sentimental sappy romantic love that everyone in modern society thinks of when hearing the word "love". No, it is love which seeks righteousness, justice, holiness, mercy and goodness, all things against modern society, which know not what righteousness, justice, holiness, mercy or goodness is.

True agape love rejects all that is of the flesh, and seeks only that which is of God. When one seeks God, one loves. It is not self-centred, but is God-centred.

The argument that usury was prohibited because could be used to "take advantage of people" is not based on love. It is based on a distorted view of love, which people who hold onto this argument do not realise. It is based on a self-centred view of love, that one loves because one wants to loved in return. The idea that something is wrong because it can be used to "take advantage" of one is a self-centred one. It is the fruit of humanism that has spread through the Church like HIV since the 16th century. The idea that any sin is wrong because it takes advantage of someone views the sin as wrong, only because how people, including oneself is affected, and not because God hates it.

God hates sin, not because of how it affects people. Human love is concerned with only how things may affect others, ultimately because of how it will affect himself. It is full of respect for persons, justifying the sins of others, including the self-centredness of others, because one wants to justify one's own sins oneself. God's love is love because it is not concerned with how it will affect people and their despicable self-interests, but because it is against His nature. The Law of God is an expression of His love which has no respect for persons (Romans 2:11; Acts 10:34). 

The argument that usury was prohibited in the Bible because it "took advantage of people" based on that self-centred spirit of humanism. It is to imply that what makes usury, and sin in general, a sin is because of how it affects the self-interests of people, not because God hates it. God hates sin, not because of how it affects the self-interests of people, but because He is Holy, Holy, Holy. 

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
(Isaiah 6:1-3). 

True agape love does what it does because it cares not for one's self-interest, but what is right, and only for that reason, for it is pure. Only God's Moral Law which hinges on His love determines what is right and wrong. 
The rationalisation of the prohibition on usury as that would take advantage of people is a dangerous one because it rejects God as the standard of right and wrong, replacing him with man's standard. 

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

(Matthew 22:37-40).