Monday, September 1, 2008

Christians Facing Bankruptcy

I have heard many ministers tell their faithful that bankruptcy is a sin and should be avoided. Christians are assured by the bible that God will provide. Perhaps what ministers are saying to their members is that before you consider bankruptcy as an option, look closely at your lifestyle.

Do you own a home that is more than you need? Are you sending your children to the "best" schools? Are you driving a car you can not afford?

After you have taken a hard look at your budget, you may find in these difficult times that you still cannot make ends meet. Or, overwhelming medical bills make it impossible for you to pay debts. Let's face the reality that creditors do not care whether you are a Christian, they only want their money. And, they are relentless pursuers.

When someone not in debt tells someone who is in debt, "God will provide", I am reminded of the story where a man being consumed by a flood tells different rescuers that he was waiting for God to save him. After dying, he asks God why He didn't save him. God responds that He provided rescuers to save him.

Likewise, God through our founding fathers, provides bankruptcy protection for relief from the harassing creditors. There are two forms of bankruptcy that can be used. If you have some money, and want to dedicate payments to creditors, you can use a Chapter 13 and pay what you can afford to pay creditors and not pay what creditors are demanding that you pay them. If you cannot afford to pay anything, Chapter 7 can be used to get rid of your debts.

See What Chapter is Right for Me for further guidance.

God commanded His people to forgive debts every seven years. Likewise, Congress allows you to file bankruptcy every eight years. I am not suggesting that you use bankruptcy every eight years. Rather, I am pointing out that as God commanded in the Hebrew Scriptures, He also allows through the bankruptcy code.

Another point I like to make to my clients that are struggling with the dilemma of bankruptcy is that bankruptcy is the perfect opportunity to witness. A discharge in bankruptcy does not prevent you from later paying your debts. Thus, you can choose to repay a creditor and tell them, "You didn't believe me when I said I would pay my debts to you. Despite the fact that I have no legal obligation to pay you, I am voluntarily paying this debt back."

3 comments:

Bret said...

Brian, what a great resource this can be for people!

In regards to this article, I am in complete agreement with you on the stance you've taken for personal responsibility. As I get older, I'm finding that needs are met and prayers are answered "sideways"--hardly ever as I might expect them to be, and hardly ever am I let off the hook or unscathed.

Being people of Faith doesn't mean that we're issued a lifetime of Get-out-of-jail-free cards; many of us will still struggle through tough times. But Faith does mean that we do not struggle alone, and that adversity need not overcome us.

The work you do could be that little ray of light and hope that people in desperation may be seeking.

Best wishes and peace to you, Brian.

Scott Forgey said...

All debts shall be forgiven every seventh year (Year of jubilee) is from the old testament.

Scott

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