Scripture discourages debt. It condemns the misuse of debt and the failure to repay debts (Psalm 37:21; Proverbs 3:27-28). If we take God’s Word seriously, we should avoid debt. In those rare cases where we go into debt, we should make every effort to get out as soon as possible (2 Kings 4:1; Matthew 5:25-26; 18:23-24). The question isn’t, “Why not go into debt?” but why? Unless the answer is extraordinarily convincing, we shouldn’t do it.
What are some of the consequences of a debt-laden lifestyle?
1. Debt lingers. The new boat is fun for a while, but two years later, when it’s sitting in storage, the motor needs repair, and the kids don’t want to ski anymore, we’re still paying for it.
2. Debt causes worry and stress. Stress experts say that the bigger a person’s mortgage (or any debt), the bigger the stress. Debt is a serious enemy of mental health.
3. Debt causes denial of reality. We drive our bank-financed cars, running on credit card gas, to open a department-store charge account so we can fill our savings and loan-funded homes with installment-purchased furniture. We’re living a lie and hocking the future to finance it. When creditors call many people won’t answer, believing that somehow they can go right on spending money they don’t have. One day it catches up—but by then integrity, relationships, and credibility have been ruined.
4. Debt leads to dishonesty. “The check’s in the mail” isn’t funny when you’ve heard it repeatedly from a Christian brother who is enslaved to debt—and now to dishonesty. Some people lie on credit applications, not revealing debt for fear they’ll be disqualified for further loans. Others desperately resort to criminal acts to try to keep up with their debt payments.
5. Debt is addictive. There are striking comparisons between debtors and drug addicts. The way out of both addictions can be very difficult. Those in debt with one income will almost always go into debt with two incomes, just as they will if the one income is doubled. Ninety-eight percent of the time debt is an internal problem, not an external one. It isn’t a matter of insufficient funds but insufficient self-control.