Many Christians face the dilemma of whether or not bankruptcy is a sin. Ever since bankruptcy filing began, this debate has been going on in the church. One thing is for sure, the topic is taboo and is rarely spoken about in social circles. In the past, most Americans would only use bankruptcy as a last resort and as a way to get a fresh start. In the last hundred years the morality of America has been spiraling downward just like the water in the toilet. As our society’s values continued to decline, people began using the legal process as a way to eliminate all their bad debt and just do it over again with no regrets. Seven years later, many of these same folks are repeating the process when it becomes available to them. Nowadays, I think it’s not about whether it is right or wrong, but how will it affect this individual’s reputation in the future and their credit rating. It’s more about the appearance of doing the right thing, rather than paying people back because your moral values tell you it’s the right thing to do. Today, if a bankruptcy filing wasn’t public record, I think more people wouldn’t have a problem with filing.
Until recently, the entire topic of bankruptcy has traditionally been looked at as immoral and carried a stigma of failure. In 2007 many Americans were forced into filing bankruptcy with no other option because what happened to the economy. Now that subject has become mainstream and many people are facing financial hardship the opinions of the bankruptcy filing process changed. Many moons ago, most Americans did everything within their power to avoid filing for bankruptcy as they did not want to wear the giant scarlet B. What’s funny is how the stigma filtered into American culture. Prior to the 1970s most people purchased everything with cash, so filing bankruptcy was uncommon for most Americans it was more for use by business owners. In extreme situations, people that had to file for bankruptcy were usually because of an illness that caused large medical bills. With the credit card revolution came a large number of Americans ending up with debt problems leading to bankruptcy filing. Before the 1960s, the term credit was almost obsolete. When technology made a way for people to carry plastic cards and opened the world of charging to everyone that couldn’t afford something otherwise.
The Bible has a lot to say about bankruptcy filing and debt. In Leviticus it talks about a person’s responsibility to pay their creditors what they owe. So that doesn’t mean you can file bankruptcy if you do have the ability to pay your creditors back. Many businesses get themselves into bad contracts that use bankruptcy filing as a means of cutting the ties with the vendor or a union and be able to renegotiate the deal they originally agreed to. In Deuteronomy it talks about the legal right to cancel debt every seven years. It also says to not be hardhearted towards the poor and cancel their debts every seventh year. What this is talking about is canceling the debt of those that don’t have the ability to pay it back. This in fact was the basis for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past. Congress used biblical values when creating the bankruptcy code that included filing bankruptcy every seven years. Now it changes the bankruptcy code in 2005 that number has changed to eight years. The bottom line is if a person took out the debt while intending to pay and fell upon hard times there is nothing wrong filing bankruptcy. Where things get a little confusing, in today’s economy many people over extended themselves, buying things they couldn’t afford and when it comes time to pay for the items, the person cries poor and wants to the file bankruptcy. If this person is honest with themselves and uses bankruptcy to get a second chance, as long as they learn from their past mistakes, there is nothing wrong with it.