As Christians we’re concerned about the moral issues of the day, but shouldn’t we also think about the national debt as a moral issue?
You’re exactly right. We have done well for several years to recognize that we simply cannot be silent concerning the great moral issues of the day, whether it’s abortion, which is by far the greatest moral issue of our time, or the redefining of marriage so as to include same-sex couples, or any one of a number of other issues that we have rightly understood to be at their root moral in nature.
What we have been slow to realize is that the national debt is also a moral issue. Most people think of it as merely an economic or political issue. But it is at its very core, a moral issue.
The U.S. national debt now stands at over 14 ¼ trillion dollars. We can’t even properly conceive of how much money that is. But let me try to give you at least a little perspective.
God created the world about six thousand years ago. How much money do you suppose one would have to spend each day for the last six thousand years to equal 14 ¼ trillion dollars? Are you ready for this? Six and a half million dollars a day, every day, for six thousand years. That’s a pretty big chunk of change!
If you divide the national debt by the number of citizens, each citizen owes $45,000 dollars. That’s every man, woman, and child. But here’s the kicker: if you divide the national debt by the number of taxpayers—because not every citizen pays taxes—each taxpayer owes $128,000.
It is most definitely a moral issue, and here’s why. Let’s say that I borrow $10,000 from you; but, not being able to pay you back myself, I go and forcibly take the money from someone else in order to pay off my debt to you. Would you say that this is moral or immoral? I’ve done right by you, haven’t I? I’ve paid back what I owed you, but I’ve robbed someone else to do it.
This is what we’re doing with our national debt. We are borrowing and spending money on ourselves and expecting our children and grandchildren to pick up the tab. In effect, we’re robbing future generations.
Proverbs says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Prov. 13:22). Judging by this standard we’d have to say that we’re not very good people because not only are we not leaving them an inheritance, we’re doing just the opposite; we’re saddling them with enormous debt.
Perhaps someone will say, “Can’t the government just print more money?” Well, yes it can, and yes it does, but this only compounds the problem. Whenever the government increases the supply of money—by whatever means it chooses, whether running the printing presses, lowering the fractional reserve, etc.—it has the effect of reducing the purchasing power of every dollar. This is why the dollar doesn’t buy as much as it used to. It has lost much of its value, and will continue to do so as long as we have an inflationary monetary policy, which (by the way) hurts the poor far more than it hurts the rich, because the poor don’t have access to the new money.
Our national debt is not only immoral because we are making future generations pay for our expenses, it’s also immoral because we are paying our creditors with devalued dollars.
All the way around our national debt is immoral. The only question is: Do we have the moral courage to reverse course? There are a few hopeful signs. But I fear it will be too little, too late. Let’s hope not. Let’s continue to put pressure on our leaders to cut back on spending; and if they won’t do it, let’s get rid of them. Let’s vote them out of office and vote someone in who understands the moral nature of the issue.