It's time once again to answer a reader request and have a look at a very odd Christian website of the sort that makes Bob Jones look like Ben Witherington. We shall not name this site nor link to it, but we will look at two claims it makes:
- Should Christians buy insurance? NO.
- Should Christians get into debt of any kind? NO.
Here's what the site says regarding insurance and why we shouldn't have it. We have extended ranting and repetition edited for brevity, as well as excluded commentary attributing insurance to the wiles of Satan.
Insurance deceives the unsaved into thinking that they can get along quite well without God. If you're wondering how this is arrived at, I am not sure I understand either. Apparently the "unsaved" reason thusly:
- I have insurance.
- Therefore, I don't need God.
- I have feet.
- Therefore, I don't need a car.
- Has he removed the seatbelts from his car?
- Has he trusted God to make sure he is not arrested for not having seatbelts (if he is in a state where they are required by law)? After all, Satan is in charge of the world system, so seatbelt laws could be a way to deceive us into being worldly.
- Or, is he believing that he will someday be arrested, because God has a plan for him to be an evangelist in prison?
- Does he save his data before he is finished typing his articles?
- Does he have an article teaching that farmers cannot use pesticides or even scarecrows?
- Does he save money? (Technically, insurance is just people pooling saved money.)
And that's basically it on why we shouldn't have insurance, aside from the "Satan wants you to be part of the world" routine. Now how about the other part, on whether Christians should borrow money? There's some good stuff offered against materialism that can hardly be disputed, but on the critical points there remains a high degree of failure.
- Paul says, "Owe no man anything, but to love one another" (Rom. 13:8).
This verse is one of several similar that is batted around, along with
Prov. 22:7: "The borrower is slave to the lender." The author refers to
debt thus in terms of "spiritual bondage" but that's not quite what's in
Rather, what we see here is a picture of a collectivist society in
which reciprocity was expected for any good deed. When Paul says not to
"owe" anything to anyone, what he means is, don't let yourself be
outstanding in reciprocating good deeds. Proverbs reflects the same
thing, albeit in a somewhat harsher social setting, but the bottom line
for both is that these are matters of patronage, not "bondage" (much
less of a "spiritual" sort). (Ironically, insurance is actually one of
our closest analogues to this sort of thing: The pooling of resources in
a common fund, in essence.)
And does this apply today? Not hardly. Our mortgages and such are far from in the model of patronage relationships. They are distant and formal, and there is no sense of personal obligation -- just a legal sense of obligation, at most.
- Jesus and John said not to loan anything to anyone and expect it to be returned.
It is also argued that Christians should not loan to others. Cited here
is Luke 3:11 and 6:34-5, but the former describes charity and does not
in itself forbid loaning for expectation of return.
Luke 6 is a little better, but is not quite a moritorium on all
lending: "If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back
the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and
lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will
be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful
and the wicked." Note: Jesus specifically says to lend not expecting to be repaid. The word used essentially means, don't let it worry you about when you'll get your money back -- which means you might or might not. Also note that this does not indicate indiscriminate giving -- see on that here.
In the social world of the NT, what this amounted to was a refusal to participate in the "circle of obligation" that patronage involved. So does this apply today? If we are using our own resources to help others, yes -- personal lending is much closer, by analogy, to what was happening here. On this point the author is closer to the mark.
- Acts 2:44-45 shows that Christians should turn to other Christians for the funding of needs, and not to the institutions of the world. Not quite. Acts 2:44-45 shows the church acting after the fashion of a normal collectivist "ingroup" -- even pagans had the same kind of organizations, in which social ingroups helped each other. That said, while it is indeed an ideal model, it does not thereby forbid other avenues of seeking financial backing -- that must be read into the text. We have said ourselves that the American church could stand to emulate its more collectivist origins in this regard, but either way, it is not a restriction on where we can go to get backing.
- Things like credit cards promote the impulses of a covetous heart. There's not much that needs to be said here; "blame the object" approaches are merely childish excuses for lack of self-control.
In the final analysis, it is certainly wise to have ourselves be as free of debt as possible, and to be wise stewards. However, the "no debt, ever, for any reason" argument is based on a misplaced application of Scriptures that were issued in the context of a collectivist society where reciprocal obligations were much more central to the way people lived. It is no surprise to see elsewhere on the author's site this commentary:
Beloved Christian, you can learn more relevant, important, scriptural truths reading all the articles on this website than you could learn by attending any church, seminary or Bible college on this planet. The problem is, more than 99% of all Christians cannot handle most of the scriptural truths presented herein (especially so-called pastors, seminary professors and Bible teachers). YES, REALLY.To put it in a nutshell: When serious study is thrown to the wind, and substituted with private interpretations based wholly or mostly on one's own plain readings, an implacable arrogance coupled with ignorance is nearly always the natural result -- and that applies whether the reader is an atheist or a putative Christian.