OPINION: “Would Jesus Support” Student Debt Cancellation? not so fast


Two authors of a recent Time magazine commentary want you to believe that Jesus Christ supports the Biden administration’s plan to forgive $500 billion in student loans. According to William J. Barber II and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, debt cancellation “is, after all, something that Jesus taught his disciples to pray for.”

Somehow I missed that command. Nearly a week since Time published the commentary in question, I’m still looking in the New Testament for anything Jesus said that sounds like, “You will impose the burdens you have chosen on those who have not chosen them.” or “You buy the votes of some with money seized from others”, or “Keep your word and honor your promises unless a politician lets you down and transfers your responsibility to other innocent parties”.

What Barber and Wilson-Hartgrove say “Jesus taught his disciples to pray” is not the relief of a freely taken student loan or a home loan or a car payment. They quote the famous passage (Matthew 6:14) from the Sermon on the Mount, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”, which is more accurately translated from the original language as “Forgive us our trespasses (our sins ) as we forgive those who have sinned against us.

At the heart of the matter is sin – a wrong done against a person or property – and the suggested answer is spiritual, that is, an attitude of forgiveness, not necessarily physical or economic. Taken from the Lord’s Prayer, the passage urges each individual to ask God for forgiveness for their trespasses and for that person to also forgive others for the trespasses they have committed against him.

When a forgiveness of this type is undertaken, note the parties involved: intruder A, God, and intruder B (and C and D, and so on, if multiple parties were involved in the offense against A). No one else is in the photo. Let’s say you robbed someone, who then beat you up. You should apologize for your theft and then forgive the guy who punched you in the face. Every act of forgiveness is voluntary and comes from the heart. The last thing you should do is team up with him and go loot and mug innocent bystanders.

Yet this is precisely what Barber and Wilson-Hartgrove endorse as Christlike. They bring innocent and, in many cases, totally unwilling (taxpayer) bystanders into the equation. It is nothing more than shoving his political agenda down Jesus’ throat, an offense for which the perpetrators should immediately apologize. In addition, everything is mandatory and not voluntary.

If you avoided student loans before Biden’s debt cancellation, you’re a jerk who just wasn’t lucky. As a taxpayer, you now have a burden that was not of your choosing. This $500 billion “forgiveness” is now your obligation, and you will pay for it through taxes or inflation or both. Don’t say, “Thank you, Jesus!” Instead, shout “No thanks, Joe Biden!”

Barber and Wilson-Hartgrove twist another biblical moment to justify the Biden plan, namely the “Jubilee” referenced in the Old Testament book of Leviticus. One must be careful in applying Old Testament practices to modern post-Christian times; otherwise, we could make our car payments by sacrificing a lamb each month. Christian teaching holds that the coming of Jesus did not denigrate or nullify all previous customs, but it proclaimed a new covenant against which our thoughts and actions would henceforth be judged.

Barber and Wilson-Hartgrove imply that the Jubilee in ancient Israel was a kind of cancellation of debts that we are today ordered to culturally appropriate. This warning by theologian Michael A. Harbin in his essay “Jubilee and Social Justice” should raise a red flag: “The fact that the principle of Jubilee applied only to a group of people around the world in one-time base seems to undermine the argument of those who want to universalize this Jubilee principle.

As it stood, the Jubilee had nothing to do with a general cancellation of debt. It had nothing to do with student loans or anything resembling the Biden plan. It was more like a celebration of paying off a lease. Biblical commentator Art Lindsley writes:

The Jubilee Declaration could be analogous to a “mortgage fire party.” You’d celebrate with friends that that big debt was paid off, but you wouldn’t thank the bank for “forgiving” your debt. The debt is not “remitted” or “cancelled” because it is paid. I wish someone would pay off my mortgage or cancel my debt, but that’s not what happened at Jubilee.

For readers interested in the facts of the ancient ritual, I highly recommend Lindsley’s essay, “Five Myths About Jubilee.”

Jesus once said, “Man does not live by bread alone. If I took this to mean that the government should provide every citizen with a free copy of Murray Rothbard’s “Man, Economics, and the State,” the two authors of the Time article would rightly cry foul. . They would claim that I was imposing my political agenda on the population. They might even feel pangs of conscience realizing that is precisely what their article was intended to do. He was embroiled in hard-left rhetoric that went far beyond the issue of student loans. They described opponents of the Biden plan as “defenders of the wealthy elite”, “reactionary” “defenders of wealth”, supporters of “corporate tax breaks” and enemies of the “New Deal and Great programs”. society”. Yada yada yada. They certainly know their socialist boilerplate talking points and bumper stickers.

Further, Barber and Wilson-Hartgrove make no mention of the economic implications for the national debt, the mandatory nature of forcing taxpayers to pay, the moral dilemma of sucking up millions of people who have pursued careers other than debt-ridden loans. for useless degrees, or any of the many other serious issues with Biden’s vote-buying/student-loan measure.

It is not the first time that someone has twisted the words of Jesus to adapt them to a political program. As I wrote in an article about the recent mall shooting in Indiana (“Yes, Elisjshah Dicken is a good Samaritan and he deserves a medal”), such misrepresentations are a very common but unfortunate occurrence. .

If you favor Joe Biden’s student debt cancellation plan, you can’t credibly prove that Jesus made him do it.

Lawrence W. Reed is Chairman Emeritus and Senior Fellow of the Humphreys Family at FEE, having served as FEE President for nearly 11 years (2008-2019). He is the author of the 2020 book, “Was Jesus a Socialist?” as well as “Real Heroes: Incredible True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction” and “Excuse Me, Professor: Challenger the Myths of Progressivism”. Follow on LinkedIn and Twitter and like his public figure page on Facebook. Republished from fee.org.


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