WISDOM FROM THE BIBLE:
DEBT and HEDONISM
(Investigator 178, 2018 January)
The Bible says: "For the LORD gives wisdom … knowledge and
Let us compare God's wisdom with ordinary wisdom in the area of money
Vance Packard in The Waste Makers
(1960/1963) writes that selling of goods on credit was a "breakthrough"
technique. It was, "one of the great creative forces in the American
economy", devised to persuade everyone to buy more than they need or
He says: "During the 1950s, consumer indebtedness rose three times as
fast as personal income." (Chapter 14)
In chapter 15 Packard continues:
The marketers of the
United States, in addition to developing specific strategies for moving
goods … sought to generate a love for possessions and zest for finding
momentary pleasures … hedonism as a guiding philosophy of life gained
more and more disciples… Many marketers, as a calculated strategy,
sought to promote a mood of self-indulgence in order to promote sales.
The whole world began to copy the American example of going into debt.
Many buyers obtained loans with false information about their assets
and income — to obtain credit they lied about their ability to meet
payments. In the case of loans to buy a house such debt is sometimes
called "liar loans".
Roddon (2017) reports that many homeowners in Australia are "heading
towards a financial cliff". He explains:
Monthly payments on
interest-only loans … jump by about 50 per cent at the end of the
Australian banks were sitting on $500bn worth of "liar
loans" sold to borrowers who gave lenders false information to get a
Borrowers who gave false information were "more likely to be
experiencing financial stress as a result of recent rate increases".
Butkovic (2017) reports that one third of Australian home loan
applications in the past year were not fully truthful.
This situation is reminiscent of the "Global Financial Crisis" in 2008
when many Americans with adjustable-rate mortgages suffered
repayment-increases they could not afford and lost their homes.
"Hedonism", mentioned above as something US marketers promoted, refers
to pleasure and the thesis that pleasure is the highest good. The
global occurrence and acceptance of hedonism was foretold in the Bible:
You must understand
this, that in the last days … people will be lovers of themselves,
lovers of money … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (II
Millions of people reached debt levels they could not service, and
their goods were repossessed. The pleasure they gained by purchasing
beyond their ability to pay turned to pain!
Those who obtained "liar loans" ignored the biblical warning that: "The
wicked … err from their birth, speaking lies." (Psalm 58:3)
Lies and their bad consequences is actually one of the themes of the
Bible, with lies and liars getting mentioned hundreds of times!
Besides being against deceit and lies the Bible also advises against
having needless debt, against accumulating excessive possessions, and
against poor planning:
The rich rule over the
poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)
The wicked borrow, and do not pay back... (Psalm 37:21)
And he [Jesus] said to them, "Take care! Be on guard
against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the
abundance of possessions." (Luke 12:15)
For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower,
does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough
to complete it? (Luke 14:28)
The solution so as not to be a "slave" to debt is:
1. Save money and pay cash whenever possible or
2. Avoid greed, and subdue the desire for quick
Debt, lies, greed and hedonism can ruin not only individuals but whole
Greece is an example of a nation whose debt levels in recent years
threatened the stability and unity of Europe. Germany is an example of
a nation almost destroyed when it reneged on its debts from World War I
and started World War II. Germany finally paid up by the confiscation
of about a quarter of its land area and 10 million Germans being
The Bible's wisdom is practical for individuals, families and nations.
It is meant to help prevent "calamity", "distress" and "anguish" while
promoting security, wellbeing and long life. (Proverbs 1:1-2, 24-27,
Hundreds of millions of people who ignored the Bible ruined their
finances and even their lives.
Anonymous, Investigator Magazine
133, July 2010, The Bible Against Debt
Hospers, J. 1967 An Introduction to
Philosophical Analysis, 584-587, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.
Packard, V. 1960/1963 The Waste
Makers, Chapters 14-15
Rodden, M. On borrowed time: loan trouble ahead, The Weekend Australian, October
7-8, 2017, pp 25, 28