A different kind of creditor

Published 8:12 am Friday, August 5, 2022

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Dear Dave,

My wife and I have plans to enter the mission field as soon as we have paid off our debt and get a full emergency fund in place. We only have about $12,000 in credit card debt left, and we don’t own a home, but my father does not want this debt to stand in our way. He has offered to pay off the credit cards, and make it a loan where we would pay him back over time. It is a tempting offer, but we both feel strange about accepting it. What do you think we should do?

— Brandon

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Dear Brandon,

Your dad sounds like a generous, good-hearted man. But considering the goal you and your wife have, I want you to think for a minute about the spiritual implications of a situation like this.

Proverbs 22:7 says the borrower is slave to the lender. Now, the Bible doesn’t say debt is a sin, but it definitely discourages debt, and it teaches us to live our lives differently than the rest of the world. That’s the case when it comes to handling money, too.

If you do this, you’d be turning your dad into your creditor in a very real sense. That’s going to make family dinners taste different, because you’ll be eating with your lender instead of just good old dad. Money has a way of changing the family dynamic, and it’s almost never for the good. Suddenly, you’re getting raised eyebrows if you buy something for yourself, because even the nicest, most generous folks have opinions.

If it were me, I’d say thanks, but no thanks. There’s no way I’d be in financial debt to my dad.

Now, if he were to offer to make paying off your debt a gift—one that was given with no strings attached to help you two get into the mission field quicker—I’d be okay with that and I’d be deeply grateful and honored.

But I would never tell you to go into debt to a parent. Your dad is probably thinking it’s better for you to be in debt to him rather than some uncaring bank or credit card company. But I just wouldn’t want to do anything that might jeopardize your relationship.   

— Dave