A lot of times I have potential clients that come in to my office with heads hung low griping and grousing about how they just can’t make it anymore. They extoll “I borrowed the money but after I…
lost my job
got sick or hurt
kid’s got sick or hurt
reduction in income
I just couldn’t pay them anymore and the credit companies wouldn’t work with me.” They go on to explain how they were not raised that way and that it is against their values. It’s usually at that time that I make my appeal to their better judgment. Bankruptcy is Morally and Biblically OK! First of all, it is a federal law. A group of people who ARE a lot smarter than I am sat down and realized that sometimes, bad things happen to good people. They also realized that debtor’s prisons were not the most enlightened response to a financial problem. Therefore, they came up with a federal LAW that allows people to discharge their debts. A law that has been used by:
Presidents: Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln in order to overcome failed business ventures. If HONEST Abe can file bankruptcy over a failed business venture and go on to become President of the United States it seems that YOU as a debtor could file and reorganize your left for the better and not feel too much shame.
Celebrities: P.T. Barnum…yes, that famous Greatest Show on Earth Barnum; Mark Twain; Henry Ford and even our beloved Walt Disney
Companies: American Airlines; Texas Rangers (the sports team, not the law enforcement agency) and even Hostess…..say it ain’t so Twinkie…say it ain’t so…
I know I know. The term “deadbeats” gets thrown around a lot. (I would imagine Honest Abe would have decked someone for calling him a deadbeat…but that’s just me) Mainly by creditors. (Not a big fan ) The truth of the matter though is that the federal LAW has a significant amount of checks and balances in order to weed the “deadbeats” out from the system. Which, mind you, comprises a very minute amount of cases. Most people are just down on their luck decent people looking to survive a crisis. So why bully them? There are wise judges, stern trustee attorneys and creditor hired guns all looking through the paperwork to find “deadbeats”. Must we shame debtors as well? So does the fact that it is a federal LAW approved by Congress make it morally OK? Well, that depends on which side your on. Do you think laws are enacted to protect society? protect the people? for the well being of the world? Or do you feel that even though a law is enacted it can still be morally bankrupt?
As far as biblically OK goes I believe it was Jesus that said in Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Some would say it is interpreted as “trespasses” or “sins” but regardless of how you spin it its ultimately an act of forgiveness. Jesus evens tell the story of the Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor in Matthew 18:21-35. (I could type out the whole story but honestly, grab a bible and look it up) If Jesus considers the forgiveness of debt OK then why shouldn’t we as a society? I believe the root cause of the problem is fairness. Is it fair that their debt is forgiven while you have to pay yours? No. Is it fair that you work two jobs to support your family and to pay your bills and they walk their debts? No. But…if you want to talk about fairness you need to make sure you not only JUDGE them but also JUDGE yourself. Is it fair that you have two jobs while someone else is unemployed? Is it fair that you have a house while other people are homeless? Unfortunately we tend to judge others by a different standard than ourselves. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and we, as people and as a society, should not judge them. We should not shame them. We should not blame them. We should bend a knee to the dirt, grab them by their arms and lift them back into our fold gently dusting the circumstances from their shoulders and listening intently to their plight.