This is part 2 of my response to an inquiry by a brother in the Lord about my position on usury. I wrote a seven page paper that I subsequently put up in audio format on this web-site. It is hard to measure the negative impact of the popular, but incorrect, view that usury means excessive interest and that the charging and receiving of interest/usury is justified by the Scriptures. It is not as I explain in the audio message with the above name or in this blog entry.
Part 5: A Single Old Testament Verse is No Justification for Charging Usury Today
Despite the clear negative and unloving aspects of charging usury and the number of verses in the Old Testament that prohibit it as shown above some will seek to justify charging it on the basis of verse 20 of
Deuteronomy 23: Deuteronomy 23:20 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it. (Emphasis added)
But the weakness of this argument is seen in a number of ways as well. First, How does an Israeliteâ€™s ability to charge usury to a stranger, a non-5 Israelite, justify a Christian charging usury to another Christian? Or a fellow American charging usury to a fellow American? It is much more legitimate and loving to apply the part of the verse that prohibits the charging usury to a brother as having application to our fellow Christians and countrymen, who need a loan, and not treating either of them like strangers in charging them usury. To use the argument that since Godâ€™s people were able to charge usury to a stranger or foreigner, I am able to charge usury to my fellow citizen or fellow believer shows the extent to which those who want to justify this biting practice are willing to go to. A New Covenant believer is not to base his dealings with his fellow believers and countryman on what the Lord allowed his people to do under the Old Covenant towards strangers. Second, if the stranger being referred to in the above verse has reference to the Canaanite nations, the Israelitesâ€™ ability to charge them usury was a form of economic warfare against the Canaanite nations. Because the only person who benefits from the charging of usury is the one charging it. The one having to pay it is being bitten. For, all that one needs to do to see the fact that interest is a form of economic warfare is to consider the interest paid to foreigners because of the massive United States deficit. It has been estimated at one million dollars a day for every man, woman, boy and girl in the United States!
Part 6: The Lordâ€™s Parables Do Not Justify Receiving Usury
The argument that Jesus justifies the charging of usury in His parable of the talents in Matthew and Luke is another example of the extent to which people will go to justify an unloving practice: Matthew 25:24-27 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.(Emphasis added)
Luke 19:20-23 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?
A quick reading of these two passages might give a person that Jesus was justifying the practice of receiving usury which is the popular but incorrect understanding of these verses. For Jesus is not justifying the practice of receiving usury. He is exposing the hypocrisy on the part of the lazy servant. For read how the lazy servant refers to the Lord in these verses. He refers to him as a hard and austere man who reaps where he has not sown. But the Lord exposes the hypocrisy of this lazy servant by saying, â€śif this is the type of man you think I am then you should have put my money in the bank and collected usury on it because receiving usury is the practice of a man who is austere! To use these parables to justify the receiving of usury is to dishonor the Lord because He is not hard, He is not austere and He certainly does not reap where He has not sown because He is the source and provider of all things! To use these verses to justify the receiving of usury, which is the popular misuse of these verses, is to ignore the true picture of what the receiving of usury or interest displays. It displays hardness of heart and austerity of heart. These parables do not justify the receiving of usury despite how often they are quoted to justify the practice, unless a person wants to display a hard and austere heart! A confessing believer in Christ should want to display a loving and not a hard and austere heart.
Part 7: Jesus Sets A Much Higher Standard
But, rather than laboring to find verses that justify the charging and receiving of usury, a futile quest as seen by the above, the confessing believer in Christ should realize that Jesus sets a far higher standard â€“ one that he should seek, by the grace of God, to conform his use of money to:
Luke 6:34-35 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. (Emphasis added)
Notice Jesus says, â€ś...that sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. This statement does not support the receiving of usury even by non-believers. But then Jesus goes on to set a higher standard for those who confess to believe in Him: â€ś...and lend, hoping for nothing again...â€ť. When a believer lends, he is to lend without even hoping to receive anything back! Is it because the majority of professing believers have not mortified their love of money that they do not hear the higher standard that Jesus sets here? There is absolutely no New Testament justification for a believer receiving usury when the Lord says he is not even to be concerned about receiving any of it back. If a believer cannot lend without fear of not receiving it back again, then he should not loan it out in the first place. He definitely should not loan it out with the hope of receiving it back with interest.
Part 8: â€śWho Would Loan?â€ť is an Invalid Argument
Because the practice of the charging and receiving of usury has become so ingrained and acceptable in the church and culture today an invalid argument often heard is, â€śWho would loan?â€ť â€śWho would loan their money if they were unable to receive it back with usury?â€ť Who would loan? Those who are more concerned about helping others, whether the other is a neighbor, a college student, a young family, or their country. Despite how difficult this is for those who have been weaned on the â€śnecessityâ€ť of charging interest, it is possible to loan money to another person without expecting to receive usury back from them! Usury is seen as an essential part of the loan process today because this society, and the majority of the church in it, are not submitting themselves to the clear teaching of the Word of God on the negative and unloving practice of biting our fellow man through the charging and receiving of interest:
Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.