Clear Thinking on Student Debt Forgiveness

My title contains a somewhat strange combination of terms, but many will know where I am headed with this.

As I said there, there is NO forgiveness nor cancellation of student debt being proposed by the government. All they want to do is force American taxpayers to pick up the bill – a very hefty bill indeed.

But such is the abysmally appalling state of Christianity when it comes to biblical understanding and theological nous, that I had to include in that earlier piece a section on Christian objections. Two of them I discussed: the Old Testament notion of debt cancellation, and the Lord’s prayer which talks about ‘forgive us our debts.’

But I realize I should have gone even further in looking at the biblical data, including discussing the biggest Christian topic we have: the forgiveness of our sins because of the finished work of Christ. I should have included it because, yep, sure enough, far too many clueless Christians have said we should happily “forgive” student debt, since Jesus offers us forgiveness of sins.

Um, talk about apples and oranges. Talk about a basic inability to think straight. Talk about biblical illiteracy. Talk about historical, political and economic ignorance. Governments forcing taxpayers to pay for the mistakes or irresponsibility of others has NOTHING to do with what Christ did on the cross – absolutely nothing.

As I said before, student debt is not cancelled nor forgiven – it is simply transferred elsewhere. It is transferred to all taxpayers, the great bulk of whom never went to college, or to those who did but were responsible and hardworking, and did manage to pay off their higher education loans. And I was one of them.

It has ALWAYS been about state coercion. It is always about the confiscation of wealth and the redistribution of wealth. Governments never produce wealth. They are parasitic in this regard. They simply appropriate the wealth of its citizens who do work and produce, and then decide how they will spend it.

And we have to ask where this sort of thing will end. If the government will demand that all of us taxpayers subsidize student loans, what about other types of loans? What about those defaulting on or struggling with their car loans? Should the state force others to bail these people out as well?

What about home loans? Most of us struggle in paying off the mortgage. Should the government tax us even further to help some of these folks pay off their debts? And what about failing businesses – perhaps those who have made very unwise or foolish business decisions? Should taxpayers be forced to bail them out as well?

And how many normal citizens have credit card debt – often quite extensive debt? Perhaps because these folks could not control their spending habits, or were just addicted to buying, regardless of how things would get paid for, they are now in a real bad way. Should the state cancel all credit card debt in the name of some sort of socialist ‘compassion’ and ‘equity’?

One last example, a practical one – at least for me. If I decide to splurge on all sorts of very expensive sets of books costing tens or thousands of dollars, and take a loan out to do so, should I expect the state to force others to pay for my habits? After all, I can rightly say this is part of my ‘education’ and part of my trade or ministry.

There is no end to where this sort of reckless government action can go. Sure, most modern Western governments have at least a modicum of a safety net in place so that those who are really struggling just to make ends meet can get some sort of assistance.

But college students? Most of these folks have all the latest hi tech gear, the laptops, the smart phones, the designer clothes, etc. They often eat at neat restaurants, take plenty of vacations, and so on. They are hardly as a whole a class of the really needy and indigent. If anything, I WAS a poor student. But as I said previously, I worked my way through college, often doing full time work on top of full time studies. It CAN be done.

As I said in an interview on this yesterday, Scripture itself makes a clear distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor. Those who through no fault of their own are doing it really tough are one group. But many are simply lazy and irresponsible, and that is why they are poor. The Bible even tells us that those who will not work should not eat! (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

And bear in mind one more basic fact of life. If a scheme like Biden’s goes through, guess what we will see more of? Yep, whenever the government subsidizes something, we will see more of it. If future students know that one day their massive loans will just be cancelled – in part or entirely – they will be even more reckless.

Some are already thinking: ‘Hey, I can get my third degree in gender studies knowing that taxpayers will foot the bill for me one day!’ They know full well that they can just take out more loans and relax about it. Why worry about paying things back if you know you will get it for free eventually anyway? That is, at taxpayers’ expense?

And so many of these higher degrees are utterly useless anyway. As one meme making the rounds rightly says: “Nobody talks about forgiving trade school debt because they all learned a useful skill and can pay their own way.” Give me a good carpenter any day over someone with a few degrees in telling us how many genders there are. At least he knows how to plug the male end of an electrical cord into a female end.

As another meme puts it: “Congrats to everyone who did not have college debt. Now you do.” Socialist ‘equity’ is never fair nor just. It is always about forcing hardworking people to subsidize those who aren’t, or about taking away their hard-earned wealth and giving it to others who likely do not deserve it.

And since I am on a meme roll here, one final one: “They should look at forgiving medical debt for cancer patients instead of student loans. Education is a choice, cancer is not.”

Basic Christianity

But what is really appalling is to see people claiming to be Christians using the work of Christ on the cross as some sort of template for socialist policies such as debt transfer. It should be utterly obvious that whatever Jesus did at Calvary, it had absolutely NOTHING to do with government. His was a voluntary action done out of love for individuals.

The debt of sin is something NO person can ever overcome. We are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). The Greek word for ‘trespass’ there is the same as the word used for the ‘debt’ I spoke of in the Lord’s Prayer (see Matthew 6:12).

It is our sins’ debt that we are over our heads in – not college loans. And there is no way that we can ever get out of this crushing burden of debt. Only by Christ taking our place at Calvary, and taking the punishment that we deserved for our sin (and NOT on an innocent third party), is it possible for the sin debt to be wiped clean so that we can be reconciled to God.

Again, it was entirely voluntary on Christ’s part, and it had utterly zippo to do with the state and coercive fiscal policy. Those who come to Christ in faith and repentance can indeed find their sins forgiven. That is glorious news. But it was the voluntary action of God which we simply respond to in gratitude and thanksgiving.

There is no coercion here whatsoever. This student debt plan – like all socialist programs – is entirely based on coercion. The taxpayer WILL pick up the tab for these students whether he likes it or not. And if he has been through college himself and managed to pay all his bills, he is being slammed here twice – it is double jeopardy. He paid his own bills and now he is being forced to pay the bills of others.

Now if an individual believer has a friend or loved one who is struggling with his education expenses, guess what? If he so chooses, he can help pay for that. He can give his friend a low interest loan, or give him a financial gift. That is entirely up to him. But note that this is done completely without coercion. The Christian WANTS to help his friend and does so.

No one has any problems with individuals helping out others any way they choose. What we ARE complaining about here is coercive state confiscation of wealth, and redistributing it as they please, even though the bulk of taxpayers may well object to something like student loan cancellation.

If by now the Christian still does not get the difference between what Jesus freely did for us on the cross, and what the state coercively demands of us in various debt relief programs, then either I did a poor job of explaining things, or they are a bit too thick and biblically illiterate to be helped.

B. Muehlenberg

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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