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Usury

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  • Usury

    The word "usury" nowadays refers to charging excessive interest on loans, however, it turns out that its biblical usage refers to charging any interest on loans. (Ezekiel 18:8 is one example of a condemnation of the practice.) Throughout most of church history, the church has been against it.

    Of course, for most of church history, we have not been in a capitalist society. I am unsure whether that excuses people today from charging interest from a banking perspective. I imagine that opening bank accounts that accrue interest would probably be okay as this does not seem to be the spirit of the biblical prohibitions, which are to prevent predatory treatment of the poor. Certainly I think those payday loan businesses that charge you an arm and a leg for money upfront would seem to be against the spirit of what the Bible teaches.
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

  • #2
    IIRC usury in the Bible meant any interest charged to the poor.
    The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

    [T]he truth Im after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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    • #3
      Even a bank savings account depends on the interest charged on loans. Banks do not pay interest just so they can keep your money safe.
      Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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      • #4
        The Southern Baptist Convention took a position on the issue, in particular with payday loans: http://erlc.com/documents/pdf/201403...dayLending.pdf
        "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
          IIRC usury in the Bible meant any interest charged to the poor.
          To clarify, the Israeli people were not supposed to charge poor Israeli people interest.
          The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

          [T]he truth Im after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

          Comment


          • #6
            Both usury and levying interest are prohibited in Leviticus 25:36.
            sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
              To clarify, the Israeli people were not supposed to charge poor Israeli people interest.
              Right. But charging outsiders interest was okay, IIRC (which, along with the church's prohibition of usury, is why Jews tended to go into banking in medieval times).
              Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. St. John Chrysostom

              Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
              sigpic
              I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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              • #8
                Originally posted by tabibito View Post
                Both usury and levying interest are prohibited in Leviticus 25:36.
                We should read that and the following verse!
                The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                [T]he truth Im after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                Comment


                • #9
                  Back up to verse 35.
                  Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jedidiah View Post
                    Back up to verse 35.
                    Yup. That do change the picture somewhat.
                    Trying now to work out why we were taught that usury was compound interest. There doesn't seem to be any support for that definition - but ...
                    Last edited by tabibito; 09-09-2014, 02:26 AM.
                    sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

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                    • #11
                      What I'd really like to get at is how this applies today to a concept of Christian economics. I don't think a policy where we differentiate between how we treat Christians and non-Christians is viable when one thinks of how Jesus answered the "who is my neighbor" question in the parable of the Good Samaritan. But I also don't know if it's as simple as banning all loans with interest, because our economic system is built on it in a way that the system of that day was not. I remember reading a review AP did of a book by a conservative Christian economist who made this point. At the same time, it seems all too convenient to duck out of passages by simply saying "different context so it doesn't apply". My hunch is that the correct answer lies somewhere near the idea of Christians not extending loans with exorbitant interest, especially to the poor. What say you?
                      "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                        What I'd really like to get at is how this applies today to a concept of Christian economics. I don't think a policy where we differentiate between how we treat Christians and non-Christians is viable when one thinks of how Jesus answered the "who is my neighbor" question in the parable of the Good Samaritan. But I also don't know if it's as simple as banning all loans with interest, because our economic system is built on it in a way that the system of that day was not. I remember reading a review AP did of a book by a conservative Christian economist who made this point. At the same time, it seems all too convenient to duck out of passages by simply saying "different context so it doesn't apply". My hunch is that the correct answer lies somewhere near the idea of Christians not extending loans with exorbitant interest, especially to the poor. What say you?
                        IMO today is somewhat of a different context, because in the past people only tended to borrow money because they needed to do so in order to survive. Today, people routinely borrow money for instant gratification.
                        Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. St. John Chrysostom

                        Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
                        sigpic
                        I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                          IMO today is somewhat of a different context, because in the past people only tended to borrow money because they needed to do so in order to survive. Today, people routinely borrow money for instant gratification.
                          I think the payday loan businesses might be an exception because they seem to directly target people who are making it from paycheck to paycheck (and tend to set up shop in lower income neighborhoods), and quickly escalate their interest rates. I'm not saying they should all be shut down because they do provide avenues for people who have no other option to meet rent but I do think it's healthy how many locales prevent them from piling on interest at even higher/faster rates.

                          But you are correct that many people are looking for quick money for non-essentials.
                          "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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