What about debt? Should Christians use credit cards, borrow money for cars, homes, vacations, etc.?

There’s a great controversy within the Christian church about that question. Some people take the position that under no circumstances should a Christian encumber himself in financial indebtedness, quoting such passages as “Owe no one anything except to love one another” (Rom. 13:8).

There are numerous passages, particularly in the Old Testament Wisdom Literature, that warn against the folly that can befall us if we allow ourselves to be in debt in a certain way. I take those passages in the context in which they are given, as wisdom sayings that warn us against practices that are imprudent and can be destructive to our home. I don’t see those as absolute prohibitions against ever being in debt. There is a responsible way to be in debt, and there are provisions for indebtedness in Old Testament society.

In today’s society, throughout much of the world, monetary exchange—the whole process of trade—involves not only hard currency but paper money. We use checks and credit cards. Credit cards are used in different ways. Sometimes they are used exactly as the name suggests—as an instant line of credit that includes carrying charges if we don’t pay our bill fully when it comes in. This is dangerous because it’s an enticement for people to live beyond their means and to be less responsible in their purchasing habits.

I use credit cards because they provide a great convenience for me; I don’t have to carry large amounts of cash when I travel. We also keep good records of our finances. It has been my personal policy and practice never to pay a carrying charge; that is, I pay those bills in full when they come in. In essence, the credit cards for me become another form of a check.

In America’s economic system it has become standard practice to borrow in order to provide for major necessities, such as homes and automobiles. Very few people can pay cash for a house. The fact that we can pay for a home over thirty years has its benefits and its liabilities. We end up paying far more than the price of the property because of interest. But at the same time we are able to become home owners. Again, that to me comes down to a matter of stewardship and responsibility. I don’t see any basic, scriptural prohibition against credit, but we are to be wise in using it.

©1996 by R.C. Sproul. Used by permission of Tyndale.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.