Thursday, March 27, 2008

Random Question - Microloans

For the 5 or so of you left reading the blog, here's something that's been bugging me for awhile. Microloans.

These things are the new, new thing, and there was even a Nobel Peace prize given out for this idea in 2006. On the surface, they seem like a capitalistic, entrepreneurial invention that encourages private investment - upholding the free market principles that I myself value highly.

But capitalistic as I am, and assuming they really do work (some have doubts), I still question whether these are Biblical. Does such a program violate the commands to "take care of the poor" and "to loan without expecting anything in return?" If so, do we write it off completely, or is there some way to structure the programs in order to have them comply with Biblical principles?

Any thoughts?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Investments, loans and the like are not my forte' by any means.

If most people in the general public are ignorant of the ins and outs of the world of finance, then I would likely rank as severely handicapped.

But from what little I think I understand, I'd say that these micro-loans could be, (stress COULD) be very helpful to financially distressed but otherwise capable individuals.

The bottom lines for me would be:

What are the interest rates to be paid back?

If they are exorbitant, what level of effort is put into making the applicant realize the extreme hazards they could face should they default?

From a Christian perspective though, it gets trickier.

We can't expect the world to behave like it is regenerate...especially when it comes to money. The love of money is still the root of all kinds of evil after all.

But, that said, Christians have opportunity to be an example to the world in this regard by opting against using worldly rationale when dealing with other believers...and on occasions with the lost, yet impoverished.

The world is looking for financial profit at any cost, the Christian is looking for a soul's conversion lest the world should destroy a man's soul.

Of course the Bible is largely silent on the specifics of whether and what conditions loaning/borrowing etc. are proper. This goes back, (as most things that are Scripturally implicit rather than explicit do) to the condition of our hearts. What is our heart motivation in each financial arrangement?

The question of, what is the Christ-like thing to do will vary by situation and circumstances. I'm not advocating situational ethics though, there is always a spiritually understood, yet concrete right and wrong heart attitude.

For instance: Is it wrong to charge a Christian brother interest? I'd say no, it isn't wrong per se. But different circumstances would determine whether that 'right' should be exercised. As always, we have to prayerfully consider our actions to see if we should be charitable or businesslike in any given scenario. But our business practices should always be a reflection of our relationship in Christ, rather than a reflection of the corruption in the world.

I'm not sure any of that addresses your general query, but I think it may be mostly on track.