The Greek Crisis and Economic Morality

One is always encouraged to avoid two things in polite conversation, religion and politics.  So I am afraid this conversation is not going to be polite.

Are morality and economics as separate as secular culture claims?  Do mercy and forgiveness of debts only extend to our personal lives?  History de-cries this assumption as past examples of the forgiveness of  the financial debt of countries emerge around the web.

So do the foundations of the Christian faith where the rules for economy worked for the good of all people.  In the Old Testament there were laws for creditors and debtors.  Fair ones.  The creditors got a reasonable return for their loans, however, the borrower was left with their dignity and placed in a position where they were able to pay back the debt.

Then came the year of Jubilee every fifty years in ancient times, allowing all those in debt to have them forgiven.  Safeguarding future generations from having to inherit a burden to heavy to carry.

The idea was never to make money at the expense of others welfare – the old laws against usury are suddenly gaining more credence in my 21st Century brain.

It clearly follows into Christ talking of the Year of the Lord’s favour.  “I have come to proclaim good news for the poor, release for the captives and recovery of sight for the blind.  The year of the favour of our God.”

It is the central principle of our faith that in the forgiveness of Christ on the cross our debts, that we can never pay, were cancelled.  The law of liberty.

While there is some culpability in borrowing by previous Greek governments, there is also culpability in a finance industry using legal loopholes to offer loans they know will be potentially damaging.  Is there any concept of what is adequate and reasonable when it comes to debt repayment?

Temporary relief is in sight with a new deal.  However, the austerity conditions hardly convey an attitude of ‘loving ones neighbour as oneself’.

Here today it is not Greece who is on trial but the creditors who have created a situation where there is no foreseable end.  They are not on trial for failing to pay debt.  They are on trial to see if they will act justly in the eyes of God.

James 2:12-13English Standard Version (ESV)

12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

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