Ancient Insights is at it…yet again. I believe this is a really good treatment on the issue of usury and the consistent Christian teaching on the matter. I just want to point readers if they would like another treatment, I’d recommend Mahoney’s “The Teaching of the Fathers on Usury.” I prefer the presentation given by Codex Justinaneus simply because he lays out a Scriptural argument which is very compelling. We must always be searching the Scriptures.
In this article, I want to offer my thoughts on the topic of usury. The reason this is such a pressing issue is because there’s no shortage of secular and liberal Christians who love to go around claiming that, because “the Church has changed its moral view on usury,” this therefore means that she can change her views on other moral issues such as homosexuality, contraception, and so on. Thus, in this article I’m going to attempt to explain what usury is, and how the Orthodox Church’s view of it has in fact never changed. So, let’s begin.
The first place we need to turn to when understanding what usury is, and what about it makes it a sin, is the Holy Bible. One of the clearest explanations of usury comes from the Law of Moses:
“If you lend money to my people that are poor among you…
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Really liked both Codex Justinianeus’ post, as well as the talk the two of you had on the subject of usury–I think the Orthodox understanding and really the Christian understanding in general of this subject is very underdeveloped, with most people either ignoring it entirely or adopting a very unnuanced reading of the Fathers (e.g. “ban all interest rates”). I’ve been thinking about your talk, and trying to connect it with my own understanding of economics, and some of my secular philosophical priors from before I got deeper into the faith.
Considering that the most despicable thing about usury is the manner in which lenders exploit the poor, and string them along on payments, do you think it’s possible for consumer loans to be non-usurious if there were no legal penalties for not paying interest? That is to say, if debtor’s prison, garnishing wages, and any other mechanism compelling a lendee to pay interest were eliminated, and the only possible consequence to defaulting was a hit to your credit score, would it still be considered usury to provide him with a consumer loan?
I’d say while the desire to forgive the debts of all those who cannot pay up is laudable, the intent of the loan is still part of the equation. If the intent is productive (i.e. buy a profitable field) then this may be good, but if the intent is not (i.e. pay for a wedding) it is not. THe poor often take loans for both.
Hello mate nnice post