WISDOM FROM THE BIBLE:

DEBT and HEDONISM

Anonymous

(Investigator 178, 2018 January)



INTRODUCTION

The Bible says: "For the LORD gives wisdom … knowledge and understanding.''

Let us compare God's wisdom with ordinary wisdom in the area of money and debt.


CREDIT


Vance Packard in The Waste Makers (1960/1963) writes that selling of goods on credit was a "breakthrough" technique. It was, "one of the great creative forces in the American economy", devised to persuade everyone to buy more than they need or find useful.

He says: "During the 1950s, consumer indebtedness rose three times as fast as personal income." (Chapter 14)

In chapter 15 Packard continues:

The marketers of the United States, in addition to developing specific strategies for moving goods … sought to generate a love for possessions and zest for finding momentary pleasures … hedonism as a guiding philosophy of life gained more and more disciples… Many marketers, as a calculated strategy, sought to promote a mood of self-indulgence in order to promote sales.

The whole world began to copy the American example of going into debt.

Many buyers obtained loans with false information about their assets and income — to obtain credit they lied about their ability to meet payments. In the case of loans to buy a house such debt is sometimes called "liar loans".

Roddon (2017) reports that many homeowners in Australia are "heading towards a financial cliff". He explains:

Monthly payments on interest-only loans … jump by about 50 per cent at the end of the interest-only period…

Australian banks were sitting on $500bn worth of "liar loans" sold to borrowers who gave lenders false information to get a mortgage.

Borrowers who gave false information were "more likely to be experiencing financial stress as a result of recent rate increases".

Butkovic (2017) reports that one third of Australian home loan applications in the past year were not fully truthful.

This situation is reminiscent of the "Global Financial Crisis" in 2008 when many Americans with adjustable-rate mortgages suffered repayment-increases they could not afford and lost their homes.


DISCUSSION

"Hedonism", mentioned above as something US marketers promoted, refers to pleasure and the thesis that pleasure is the highest good. The global occurrence and acceptance of hedonism was foretold in the Bible:

You must understand this, that in the last days … people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (II Timothy 3:1-5)

Millions of people reached debt levels they could not service, and their goods were repossessed. The pleasure they gained by purchasing beyond their ability to pay turned to pain!

Those who obtained "liar loans" ignored the biblical warning that: "The wicked … err from their birth, speaking lies." (Psalm 58:3)

Lies and their bad consequences is actually one of the themes of the Bible, with lies and liars getting mentioned hundreds of times!


BIBLICAL SOLUTION

Besides being against deceit and lies the Bible also advises against having needless debt, against accumulating excessive possessions, and against poor planning:

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)

The wicked borrow, and do not pay back... (Psalm 37:21)

And he [Jesus] said to them, "Take care! Be on guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." (Luke 12:15)

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28)

The solution so as not to be a "slave" to debt is:

1.    Save money and pay cash whenever possible or practical;
2.    Avoid greed, and subdue the desire for quick pleasure;
3.    Truthfulness.


FURTHER COMMENT

Debt, lies, greed and hedonism can ruin not only individuals but whole nations.

Greece is an example of a nation whose debt levels in recent years threatened the stability and unity of Europe. Germany is an example of a nation almost destroyed when it reneged on its debts from World War I and started World War II. Germany finally paid up by the confiscation of about a quarter of its land area and 10 million Germans being expelled.


CONCLUSION

The Bible's wisdom is practical for individuals, families and nations. It is meant to help prevent "calamity", "distress" and "anguish" while promoting security, wellbeing and long life. (Proverbs 1:1-2, 24-27, 33; 3:1-2)

Hundreds of millions of people who ignored the Bible ruined their finances and even their lives.

 
REFERENCES:

Anonymous, Investigator Magazine 133, July 2010, The Bible Against Debt

Hospers, J. 1967 An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, 584-587, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.

Packard, V. 1960/1963 The Waste Makers, Chapters 14-15

Rodden, M. On borrowed time: loan trouble ahead, The Weekend Australian, October 7-8, 2017, pp 25, 28


http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/