The Biden administration has announced that it plans to forgive student loan debt.
President Joe Biden said that his administration has a three part-plan to address tuition costs by offering “debt relief as part of a comprehensive effort to address the burden of growing college costs and make the student loan system more manageable for working families,” according to the White House statement.
The Bible and Loan Forgiveness
When Christians offer up their views based on scripture they get called “Bible thumpers”; however, when those who do not believe in the Bible find support for their progressive views suddenly quoting scripture as an authority is not a problem.
One verse that is garnering attention is “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release.” (Deuteronomy 15:1, all Bible verses from ESV)
However, this verse is talking about a specific holiday for a very specific time: a holiday called Jubilee.
One question that one should ask of those that use this verse to defend student loan forgiveness is: Would those who disagree with other matters in the Bible wish to follow the other precepts laid out in Deuteronomy? Or is this just a way to read into the text what one would like to get out of it?
Some verses, however, do speak to the issue of paying back what is owed.
“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:7-8)
“It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.” (Ecclesiastes 5:5)
A Categorical Error
Social media abounds with opinions. Many took to Twitter using the hashtag #studentloanforgiveness to express their views on the morality of student loan forgiveness.
“I paid my student loans 100% and I am all for #studentloanforgiveness. Just because I had to struggle and live in a dump, drive a junker and eat crap, I have ZERO DESIRE to see others having to do the same. See Christians that is called COMPASSION! You should try it,” said one Twitter user.
I paid my student loans 100% and I am all for #studentloanforgiveness . Just because I had to struggle and live in a dump, drive a junker and eat crap, I have ZERO DESIRE to see others having to do the same. See Christians that is called COMPASSION! You should try it!
— Pastor Rob Fleeceman (@PFleeceman) August 24, 2022
“What’s [not] shocking to me is how many self-proclaimed Christians are upset at the idea of helping people. Did you complain about Jesus feeding 5,000 people and how it wasn’t fair to those who bought bread & fish the day before,” said Malynda Hale, a social activist.
What’s (not) shocking to me is how many self-proclaimed Christians are upset at the idea of helping people. Did you complain about Jesus feeding 5,000 people and how it wasn’t fair to those who bought bread & fish the day before? #studentloanforgiveness
— Malynda Hale (@MalyndaHale) August 25, 2022
“Conservative Christians are fully enraged at #studentloanforgiveness, missing the irony that their entire professed religion is based on the idea of a cancelled debt. Way to lose the plot, kids,” said John Pavlovitz, a progressive pastor and author.
Conservative Christians are fully enraged at #studentloanforgiveness, missing the irony that their entire professed religion is based on the idea of a cancelled debt.
Way to lose the plot, kids.
— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) August 24, 2022
This is a conflation of two issues: student debt and sin. Comparing the two is a categorical mistake at best and heresy at worst.
That the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, came down to take on the sins of the world is not akin to the Biden administration canceling financial debt for those who voluntarily entered a contract, especially when it is not the power of the executive branch but the Congress that the Constitution gives to hold the power of the purse according to the U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 and Article I, Section 8, Clause 1.
Should Public Policy Be Based on Charity?
What needs to be understood is that charity is not the principle for policymaking, or at least it should not be the sole principle. Dealing with a population the size of the United States requires more nuance than just forgiving a particular type of debt for a particular group of people. One question that all people should ask themselves is, “Does this law or policy provide for the common good?”
The key word here is “common.” Remember, debt is never “forgiven,” it is transferred. This kind of policy affects more than one group of people. As it stands, this policy would cost the average tax-paying American $2,503.22, according to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
Instead, the Biden administration should work to identify and remove the current policies in place that are the cause of high tuition costs and student loan debt to begin with.
Whenever one considers a policy or a law, one should ask themselves three questions: Is it moral? Is it constitutional? Does it provide for the common good?
The loan forgiveness program fails all three. It is not based on any morality and, under the guise of charity, transfers debt from those who earned it to those who did not. It is unconstitutional because the branch of the federal government responsible for making this kind of decision is Congress, not the executive branch. Lastly, it does not provide for the common good because it negatively affects more than one group of people.