I Prayed have prayed
Father, we pray for those who are struggling with student loans. Help them find success and freedom, God, but prevent us from having to shoulder their burdens.

Analysis. President Biden’s announcement that he will forgive a certain amount of student debt has ignited a firestorm of controversy, with some pastors criticizing Christians who have a problem with the plan. After all, these pastors argue, since Jesus paid our debts on the cross, it is unchristian for us to protest the president’s plan.

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In the words of activist preacher Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, “A whole lot of folks who supposedly pray, ‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors’ don’t see debt forgiveness as an answer to prayer.”

Or, as expressed by progressive pastor John Pavlovitz: “Conservative Christians are fully enraged at #studentloanforgiveness, missing the irony that their entire professed religion is based on the idea of a cancelled debt. Way to lose the plot, kids.”

He added, “Not to mention the year of Jubilee … ” (referring to the Torah law in which all debts were cancelled every 50 years).

Or, as expressed in a popular meme by Phyllis Randall, the chairwoman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, “If you’re a Christian and you’re big mad about the possibility of student loan being cancelled, let me remind you that the entirety of your faith is built upon a debt you couldn’t pay that someone stepped in and paid for you.”

To be candid, these arguments are as shortsighted as they are unbiblical.

Of course, the Christian faith is grounded in forgiveness, and David French notes that, “The concept of debt forgiveness—including the forgiveness of monetary debt—is all over the Bible. Indeed, debt forgiveness is built into Mosaic law.”

French also quotes Roger Nam, a Hebrew Bible professor at Emory’s Candler School of Theology, who “described the Old Testament’s commands of debt forgiveness as embodying a ‘spirit of compassion’ that helped lift the poor from grinding poverty, debt slavery, and oppression.”

And it was Jesus Himself who taught us to “lend, expecting nothing in return” (Luke 6:35).

But comparing the forgiveness that comes through the cross with the government’s select and partial forgiving of college loans is like comparing apples to elephants. They are that far apart and distinct.

On the purely pragmatic side, French notes that, “The biblical precedents point time and again to debt forgiveness as relief for profound oppression. …

“Yet Biden’s program doesn’t meet those requirements. It’s radically generous, yes, but the generosity is backwards. It’s taking from those who have less and giving to those who have more.

“Rather than, say, a discharge of debts in bankruptcy — which relieves debts for the destitute — the decision to forgive student loans benefits America’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens.”

Specifically, “In July, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was a paltry 2.9 percent. The total lifetime wage premium for a college education is $900,000 for men and $630,000 for women—an amount that’s many multiples of average college debt.”

In short, “The long-term benefits of a college degree are easy to see.”

This is hardly in keeping with the biblical emphasis on “debt forgiveness as relief for profound oppression.”

Not only so, but Jesus paid our debt in full out of the riches of God’s grace. The government is going further into debt to pay down some of these loans.

Worse still, the government will be taking money from you and me – including some of you who worked hard to pay off your loans – to help pay down the loans of others. How can this possibly be compared to God’s mercy through the cross?

It would be one thing if proponents of the plan pointed to the biblical admonishment to show mercy and to help the needy. But to compare this plan to the cross of Christ is beyond ludicrous.

Jesus paid a debt we could never pay. We can pay off our student loans.

And Jesus paid for the sins of the whole world rather than pay for the sins of a select group who seemed to need more help while bypassing those who could help themselves. That is not the gospel.

As for those pastors who use the teachings and example of Jesus to support the Biden plan, why not take money from those in your congregations who are wealthier in order to pay off all the debts of the poorer members? After all, if the principle is biblical, then the church, rather than the government should lead the way. Why limit this to the partial payment of some student’s debts?

As for the government, why start with student debts? After all, these students took this on themselves, and most of them will be able to pay these debts down over time.

Why not start with medical debts, which, in the vast majority of cases, were not taken on willingly and which can even run into the millions of dollars? Why not cancel all those debts?

And for every business owner pointing to the Bible in support of the Biden plan, why not forgive everyone who owes your company anything? After all, Jesus forgave you!

That’s why basketball coach Stan Van Gundy’s tweet was equally off point, labelling this “Republican logic” as illustrated by this meme: “Jesus’s miracle of the loaves and fishes was a slap in the face to all the people who brought their own lunch.” Please.

First, Jesus gave everyone food that day, all of them ate until they were satisfied, and the provision itself was miraculous. Second, Jesus didn’t make those who brought their own food pay for the food of the others. (For the record, the Bible only speaks of one boy who had a little food; see John 6.)

This also ties in with a principle mentioned by Paul in his short letter to Philemon, urging this Christian man to welcome back his former slave Onesimus, but now as a brother, not as a slave. Yet Paul wanted him to do it willingly, so that “your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord” (Philemon 1:14).

In the case of student loans, a burden will be put on American taxpayers by government compulsion. What does this have to do with the cross?

Should we, as followers of Jesus, be known for our compassion and generosity? Absolutely.

Should we forgive those who sin against us just as the Lord forgave us? Certainly.

Should we lead the way in offering help to those in need? Without a doubt. In fact, during COVID, numerous churches stepped up in their communities, providing food, paying rents, and helping to pay off debts.

Let us continue with these acts of Christian charity, following the spirit of Jesus. But let us not confuse this with a misguided governmental policy. And above all, let us not try to guilt others into affirming the policy based on the example of the cross. That is anything but Christian.

What do you think of Biden’s student loan forgiveness? Share your thoughts and prayers below.

(Used with permission. Ask Dr Brown, by Dr. Michael L. Brown. Photo Credit: Photo by Charles DeLoye on Unsplash)

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Eugene J. Lentz
September 7, 2022

There will become many other ways that they, this government, will find to give away OUR money instead of using it for the Infrastructure that they promised…. just look at Jackson Miss. water crisis and many other areas of water problems, amongst many ,many other infrastructure problems that the monies could be being used for here in Our Country, including stopping illegals crossing at Record levels… there are and will be many other ways for this government to “Fast Track” our tax dollars into oblivion.
It is obvious and common sense to see that this will not only weaken America in every way but it is fast tracking this country Down Equal to “3rd world status”… and once America, the last standing great country, that all others could have still counted on, is reduced to that in strength and status, I believe the stage is then set for The American Constitutional takeover then Globalism as a “One Word Government “
This Is a spiritual war and Prayer is the Only way (with God’s Hand on us) to lead us through these times into repentance and I thank God for Intercessors (IFA) so that prayer now is so Universal to accomplish His will.

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NanJohnson
September 7, 2022

Additionally, Biden is passing things that should go through the congress. It’s legislative not executive. The student debt forgiveness is a matter that belongs to the legislative branch of the federal government.Allowing him to do the this is wrong and causing many lawsuits. Our government (federal) has3 branches. Executive legislative and judicial. This serves to balance the government and gives stability.

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NanJohnson
September 7, 2022

I am one of those who has little but enough since I’m trusting in God for all my needs. I’m a retired teacher and my state does not give a cost of living increase. Anything extra must be voted on by the state legislature. It is getting more difficult since I have been retired 22 years but God has always made ways to provide for me. From my perspective, you can pay student loans. It’s called a budget and controlled spending. It seems most unfair to take from those who have less to give to those that have or will have more. My two children did not go to college because we couldn’t afford it. My son is now an assistant director at a major hospital and getting his doctorate online. God provided. My daughter works for a law firm. One of the lawyers has trained her to the equivalent of a paralegal although she never could afford to get a degree Godprovided. There are ways to do well without taking others’ money in the process. With God I have always had enough. That’s the best lifestyle.

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Rochelle
September 7, 2022

Forgiveness is something each person can choose to do or not do, whether it is forgiving an offense or forgiving a debt.
When someone takes your money and uses it to forgive someone else’s debt is not charity, but stealing.
We pay taxes is to provide a military for defense and provide infrastructure which benefits everyone. Bank bailouts were the beginning of this economic mess, although “pork” spending has been going on for a very long time benefiting friends and donors of politicians.
One thing I will say on behalf of students is the interest rates charged on student loans have been grossly unfair: 10% compounded interest when a person couldn’t even get 1% interest in money in a savings account.
It is like the set up of a cartel which charges a fee to get a person into a country but the person will never be able to pay off the debt because of the interest which keeps accruing so they become a slave.
My understanding is that when the federal government got involved in student loans it caused tuition to skyrocket. I would appreciate an IFA article that explained this history and also highlighted the sin of usury.

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Patti
September 6, 2022

Wonder how enthusiastic these pastors would be, about Christians need to go along with President Biden’s plan, if those same Christians could not support the pastor’s churches because they are having to pay off the debt of college students? It is different when someone else is getting into you pocket or space.
Please Father, I pray for wisdom and understanding for our leaders and Pastors.

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Peg B
September 6, 2022

Dear LORD, we ask forgiveness that what was started as good (higher education for a greater understanding of You, i.e. many of the ivy league colleges), instead was replaced with atheist teachings, greed, pridefulness, etc.. These things are not from You nor for You. They lead our youth away into false teachings and philosophies, ensnaring them without true understanding of the costs.
I ask You to intervene and uproot the lies. Bring the prideful to humility, silence the false teachings, align the students under Your wise counsel. Cause the thieves to repay these debts four-fold. Change the hearts and minds of the administrators and staff. Please speak directly into the life of our President and his administration, cause them to turn according to Your will just as You turn the mighty rivers. Your word reminds us in Micah 6:8 What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. I thank You for hearing this urgent plea. In Jesus name. Amen.

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Ed Nopp
September 6, 2022

Comparing the forgiveness on the cross to the forgiveness of monetary debt is what I define as taking God’s actions in vain. The forgiveness from the cross was for SIN not monetary debt. Then using the Lord’s Prayer crosses that same line. In the prayer we are asking for forgiveness of SIN debt no monetary debt. I shall say a prayer for those who read and understand.

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Carolyn
September 6, 2022

I paid my college loans. Why can’t they pay theirs?????

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Beverly
September 6, 2022

Paying off student loans is one step closer to socialism and state run education.

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Faith Lopez
September 6, 2022

I strongly agree that you cannot compare the price that Jesus paid on the cross with the student loan forgiveness. Jesus shed his precious blood for our sins, he suffered, was humiliated, and the bible tells us that He did it out of love for us. “For God so love the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16, he did not die for a few but for all. There is no way anyone, especially a Christian can compare forgiveness of student loan with the forgiveness of our sins. I believe that this forgiveness of student loan will do more harm to taxpayers. This does not come from people that care about students, they want their own agenda. God has told us to pray for those in power. More than ever, we need to be praying for all that are in power. May God have mercy on us all.

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Ann Behrens
September 6, 2022

We applied for forgiveness of my husband’s student loans. He got his degree in 2004 at the age of 64-1/2. Months after getting his degree he lost his job and had surgery. So in 2020, at the ages of 81 and 75, we requested that our debt be forgiven, and after months of paperwork, it was. We are eternally grateful. The $250 payment was more and more difficult to make. So yes, sometimes a student loan being forgiven is life saving. However, the broad stroke of the “eraser” is not the answer to those who CAN repay their debt. We CHOSE to get student loans, and for many years we repaid them. We only sought forgiveness when our age and physical abilities to work made it impossible. All of this to say, I can see both sides of the coin. Forgiveness for us was a relief of a financial crisis. What is being heralded as debt forgiveness now is nothing more than a scheme of the enemy. Since the Garden he’s brought confusion and strife. This is another way to divide our country, and may I say, add votes for the upcoming elections.

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Bobhuseby
September 6, 2022

The world knows this is nothing more than a desperate attempt to buy votes… simple as that !!

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    Julie
    September 6, 2022

    Absolutely true, Bob.

    A shameful vote-buying scheme by Democrats out to destroy America.

    8
    Randy
    September 10, 2022

    The world? Except those whose votes are being bought.

    2
Don
September 6, 2022

Let me remind you this is nothing but politics by Biden.

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Lynn Hobbs
September 6, 2022

There is a difference between debt from oppression and debt from an education loan. It is ridiculous and I’m sure our God believes so too.

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