Consumer borrowing hit a record $3.04 trillion in the second quarter of 2013, a 22% increase over the last three years. Credit Card borrowing alone jumped 8.5% in one month. At the same time, our personal consumption rose drastically and our personal savings rate fell to 3.5%, the lowest it’s been since just before the recession.
If you subscribe to the analysis of almost every major media outlet, this is a good thing. We are to believe that borrowing is both the cause and the solution to our crisis; that taking a heavier debt load on our backs will somehow help us crawl out unscathed. Now, I understand the argument that our economy is based on consumer spending, but getting there on credit is a fallacy, both from a secular standpoint and a Christian one. Here are just a few reasons why:
Debt is psychologically unhealthy
9 out of 10 people with debt problems are suffering from mental health disorders, particularly depression and debilitating anxiety, according to the Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS). In fact, many banks are now setting up special mental capacity and health units in their debt collection teams, partly in response to a rise in suicides caused by the financial pressures of debt.
Debt prevents us from being generous
“You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” – 2 Cor. 9:11. God tells us over and over again to be generous and approach our fellow man with an open hand. This is meant for His glory and our ultimate pleasure. Remember, giving will satisfy us more in this life and the next than that big ticket item (this has been proven statistically, biblically and anecdotally ad infinitum).
Debt undermines God
George Muller, a man who cared for 10,024 orphans in his lifetime without borrowing a dime, was often asked why he would not take food for the orphans on credit (or accept donations from people with debt). This is from his diary:
“December 1, 1842: Someone may ask, ‘Why don’t you buy the bread on credit? What does it matter whether you pay immediately for it or at the end of the month?’ My reply is this: If this work is the work of God, then He is surely able and willing to provide for it. He will not necessarily provide at the time we think that there is need. But when there is real need, He will not fail us. We may and should trust in the Lord to supply us with what we require at present, so that there may be no reason to go into debt. I could buy a considerable amount of goods on credit, but the next time we were in need, I would turn to further credit instead of turning to the Lord. Faith, which is maintained and strengthened only by exercise, would become weaker and weaker. At last, I would probably find myself deeply in debt with no prospect of getting out of it.”
If God can provide for the needs of thousands of orphans, He can and will provide for us as we TRUST in Him. It’s an insult to God’s supremacy and our faith when we trust in our credit cards more than the most powerful being in the universe.
Debt ain’t sexy
The Barna Group, one of the nation’s foremost statistics and polling organizations, estimates that 80-90% of divorces are caused by financial pressures. If I told you one thing could eliminate 80-90% of your marital problems, wouldn’t you jump on it? When husband and wife go into unreasonable debt together, they are asking for problems. When this happens on a large scale, what effect does it have on an entire nation?
As C.S. Lewis said, “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” I hoped that there would be a silver lining to the recession; a megaphone wake up call to Americans that would shock us into living below our means, saving, and staying out of debt, but sadly, I was wrong.
What do you think? Is this surge in borrowing a good thing? Leave a comment below.