Is debt bad?
Leverage debt, use debt, debt is bad, debt is good, debt is a tool, etc., etc. Some financial gurus tell us “Don’t borrow, debt is bad.” Others tell us to leverage our debt. Some say to pay off our homes. Other say it makes better financial sense to keep the mortgage and use the extra ‘pay-off’ money for investing.
But what do the scriptures say about borrowing?
But, what has the Lord told us about debt?
Many of us are familiar with the scripture in Proverbs 22:7 “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” The first time I heard that scripture it struck me hard, and struck me as truth! Indeed, the one that owes is servant to the lender.
Doctrine and Covenants section 19 verse 35 says “Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer. Release thyself from bondage.” This was a revelation given to Martin Harris. Martin Harris had mortgaged his farm lands to enable the Book of Mormon to be printed. “The translation was completed in June 1829. By August, Smith contracted with publisher E. B. Grandin of Palmyra to print the Book of Mormon. Harris mortgaged his farm to Grandin to ensure payment of the printing costs, and he later sold 151 acres of his farm to pay off the mortgage.” (Martin Harris (Latter-Day Saints))
While debt was necessary to print the Book of Mormon, the Lord had provided a way for the debt to be repaid. I know that if we are committed to ridding our lives of debt, the Lord will help us in these efforts!
Deuteronomy 28:12 instructs Israel “thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.” This verse is part of a chapter that explains to Israel that they will be blessed temporally and spiritually if they are obedient. Again in Deut 15:6 the Lord says the same thing, that Israel shall lend to many nations, but not borrow, and then He adds “and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin counseled, “Remember this: debt is a form of bondage. It is a financial termite. When we make purchases on credit, they give us only an illusion of prosperity. We think we own things, but the reality is, our things own us. Some debt—such as for a modest home, expenses for education, perhaps for a needed first car—may be necessary. But never should we enter into financial bondage through consumer debt without carefully weighing the costs.”
President Heber J. Grant said, “From my earliest recollections, from the days of Brigham Young until now, I have listened to men standing at the pulpit…urging the people not to run into debt; and I believe that the great majority of all our troubles today is caused through the failure to carry out that counsel.”
One of my favorite quotes about debt was given by J. Reuben Clark, Jr.:
“It is a rule…in all the world that interest is to be paid on borrowed money. May I say something about interest? Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels…it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands nor orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.”
I will never forget a statement a friend made to me years ago. She said “Borrowing money is like telling my Heavenly Father that I am not grateful for what he has already given me.” How this spoke right to my heart!
This statement became my new ‘mantra’ for getting out of debt and not incurring more, at least not without prayerful consideration.
Each morning when I wake up I am grateful for a new day and new chances. I am grateful for healthy kids, a kind, hard-working husband, a family who loves me and friends who never give up on me. I am grateful for my freedoms and my opportunities and my choices, my education and my comfort. I am grateful for clothes to wear, food to eat, a vehicle to transport my family where we need to go. I am grateful to be able to worship how I choose, and to live in a place of peace and safety. I am grateful for the opportunity to repent and change. I am grateful for the enabling power of the Savior and my knowledge of Him and for His love.
How can I tell my Heavenly Father that I am not grateful for all that I have and that I want more, and that I am not willing to be patient and submissive?
Admittedly there are times when we will, more than likely, need to borrow money. These times include a home, possibly a car, and maybe education (although be very, very cautious when considering student loans!). But gratitude for our blessings will help us remember where all that we have comes from.
Assignment for today:
1-Start a gratitude journal. Every day list at least three things you are grateful for.
2-Make a list of all of your debts, lowest balance to highest, their interest rates and the monthly payments on these debts.
3-Subscribe to this blog!