Is it wrong for a Christian to file bankruptcy?


The question of whether it is wrong for a Christian to file for bankruptcy according to the Bible is a complex and multifaceted issue. It involves considerations of financial responsibility, stewardship, justice, and mercy. To explore this topic thoroughly, we must examine relevant biblical principles, including those related to debt, justice, and compassion. Let’s delve into this topic in detail, referencing the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible.

Understanding Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal process through which individuals or businesses can seek relief from overwhelming debts and obtain a fresh start financially. While bankruptcy laws vary from country to country, the fundamental principle is to provide a means for debtors to repay creditors to the extent possible while also allowing for the discharge of certain debts when repayment is not feasible.

Biblical Principles on Debt

The Bible contains several principles related to debt and financial responsibility. One such principle is found in Romans 13:8, which states, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” This verse emphasizes the importance of avoiding indebtedness whenever possible, highlighting the idea that debt can restrict one’s ability to fully live out the commandment to love others.

Responsibility to Repay Debts

While the Bible discourages excessive debt, it also emphasizes the importance of fulfilling one’s obligations and honoring agreements. Psalm 37:21 declares, “The wicked borrows and does not repay, But the righteous shows mercy and gives.” This verse underscores the moral responsibility to repay debts when they are incurred.

There are several types of bankruptcies for different purposes. some kinds actually give the believer time to pay his debts or pay back a portion of the debt based on the income. Whatever the case, the believer should not take advantage of the legal system but instead be true to the scriptures and use the right relief to His situation.

Bible Example

Living on credit and not paying back what we owe is not a godly trait. Christians should be faithful stewards for their resources. God’s children can’t witness for Him when they are not faithful in their finances.

The scripture mentions an example of a woman who came to the prophet Elijah saying, “Your servant my husband is dead…And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves” (2 Kings 4:1). Elijah didn’t tell her not to pay her debt, or file bankruptcy, instead, He performed a miracle to actually help her pay it (2 Kings 4:2-7). Paying back a debt is the believer’s duty and obligation as he manages his finances wisely.

Mercy and Compassion

At the same time, the Bible also teaches the importance of mercy and compassion, especially towards those who are experiencing financial hardship. Deuteronomy 15:1-2 outlines the principle of the Sabbatical Year, during which debts were to be forgiven: “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release.”

Justice and Fairness

In addition to mercy and compassion, the Bible emphasizes the importance of justice and fairness in financial dealings. Proverbs 22:7 warns, “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.” This verse highlights the potential consequences of indebtedness, where borrowers may become beholden to lenders, impacting their freedom and autonomy.

Contextual Considerations

When evaluating the morality of filing for bankruptcy from a biblical perspective, it’s essential to consider the specific circumstances surrounding the decision. For instance, if bankruptcy is pursued as a result of unforeseen financial crises, such as medical expenses or job loss, it may be viewed differently than if it were the result of irresponsible spending or financial mismanagement.

Seeking Wise Counsel

Proverbs 15:22 advises, “Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors, they are established.” Seeking wise counsel from trusted advisors, such as financial planners, pastors, or mentors, can provide valuable perspective and guidance when facing financial challenges or considering bankruptcy.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the question of whether it is wrong for a Christian to file for bankruptcy according to the Bible involves careful consideration of biblical principles related to debt, responsibility, mercy, and justice. While the Bible encourages financial stewardship and warns against excessive indebtedness, it also emphasizes the importance of compassion towards those experiencing financial hardship and the need for justice and fairness in financial dealings. Ultimately, each situation must be evaluated on its own merits, with prayer, discernment, and wise counsel guiding the decision-making process. As Christians, it’s essential to approach financial matters with integrity, humility, and a commitment to honoring God in all aspects of our lives.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Leave a Comment