All humans, made in the image of God, should be free from bondage to live freely.
But increasingly, people (especially the young) are enslaved in heavy debt to pay for education, housing or necessities. Companies and governments are evermore indebted. Consequently, we are reverting to debt-slave societies where some may never be free of debt in their working lives.
We urgently need to reverse the tax breaks for company debt, remove subsidies to banks and replace mortgages with lease-to-buy arrangements. More would then enjoy ownership responsibilities rather than debt bondage.
Dr Paul Mills.
Since studying for my doctoral thesis, I have sought to understand the Bible's warnings against debt and prohibition of the profiting from lending through interest. It is consistent with God's creation of humanity in His image to steward His Creation with freedom and responsibility. But debt entails bondage because a promise ('bond') to repay has been made - hence the borrower is no longer free from obligation. Lending at interest is therefore profiting from the financial servitude of another, even if it is self-inflicted. It is inherently anti-relational and unloving. Hence, Jesus' characterisation of taking interest as "reaping where one has not sown" and a feature of "hard men" (i.e. unloving) - Luke 19:22-23. Unsurprisingly, He enjoins His followers to go further than Moses' prohibition of lending at interest to fellow citizens (Luke 6:34,35; Deuteronomy 23:19-20).
The diminishing influence of this insight - ironically since the Reformation - has now resulted in record levels of global indebtedness despite the lowest interest rates in human history and a near catastrophic financial crisis (2008-09) resulting from excessive indebtedness. This threatens near-term banking system failure if defaults rise sharply during the next recession. More insidious is the scenario that the debt expansion is kept going further to ward off recession until a crisis forces its restructuring through high inflation or mass default and writedowns. Until then, younger generations face increasing levels of student and consumer debt while buying a house entails huge debt commitments. Far better than such debt bondage and then systemic would be to delever the economy now by favouring non-debt forms of equity, leasing and rent-share contracts rather than continue to subsidise debt through the corporate tax system and the benefits given to banks - the "debt factories" of the economy.