If a man and woman have sex, and that union produces a baby, they’re responsible for their tryst and for the baby.
If a man goes on the down low, picks up HIV, and infects his wife, he’s responsible for his actions.
If a college student cheats on a test and gets expelled, she’s responsible for her actions.
If a guy decides to score some blow on a dimly lit corner and it stops his heart forever, he’s responsible—and dead.
If a bunch of financial institutions decide to cavalierly play a no-win game that could ruin the lives of millions of people, they’re not only NOT held responsible, they get the government to bail them out, even if the American people DO NOT WANT the bailout, a bailout that may STILL bring down the American financial system.
Jesus Christ extends grace to those who turn to Him. He paid our penalty, one we could not pay ourselves. As a result, we will not suffer the torment we deserve.
The questions we face daily are ones of grace and no grace.
Should a maniac destroy the life of someone we love, we can offer grace to the perpetrator of the crime, but all the grace in the world will not return the one we lost. Someone pays.
Does the extension of grace to the one who shattered our life mean that he will never see a day of jail, never face the government’s social responsibility to prosecute the crime?
I look at this sordid investment bank meltdown, the lust for a quick, no-fault buck, and the filth shoveled around so that everyone gets dirty. Doesn’t someone at some point have to be responsible?
What does grace look like in this case?
I contacted my government representatives and asked them to reject any bailout. I wonder if the only way for us to understand what God is trying to say to this country is to man up and let the consequences fall.
32 thoughts on “Grace, No Grace”
Let’s add . . . If a family (or person) cavalierly buys that large dream house taking out an adjustable rate mortgage that they can barely afford now, ignores the future increased interest rate and/or balloon payment coming due, (after all that financial institution cavalierly approved them for what they want, whether or not they can reasonably afford it), they’re not only NOT held responsible, but they are entitled to a bailout. After all if the government is going to bail out those cavalier financial institutions, those mortgage holders are entitled to a bailout. Let’s just ignore those who CHOSE an affordable home with it’s affordable mortgage. Let’s reward those who made bad decisions whatever the motivation and put it on the backs of those who CHOSE to live within their means.
The bottom line is greed . . . “I have to have it now, how I want it, when I want it.” I don’t know where grace is in all of this except that if one of my neighbors is losing their house, they are welcome to share my home. The house is small, slightly outdated, rough around the edges, only one bathroom, not at all something to impress others. We might even have to share a bedroom, . . . but. . . it is our home . . . full of wonderful memories raising three boys, entertaining family, neighbors, and friends, and now enjoying our “empty nest.” AND the house is paid for! You can’t pay me enough for the memories.
Few are exempt from finger-pointing here.
But no longer is it an issue of just sub-prime loans. People who have normal fixed-rate mortgages are losing their homes, too. People with good and even great credit ratings are suffering. My state is like a war zone right now. Within just a few miles of me sits a Ford transmission plant that closed to the tune of 1,800 jobs, while a little further away is the DHL hub whose closure promises to rack the town of Wilmington to the tune of 8,000 jobs. I’m seeing abandoned houses and For Sale signs everywhere.
Sometimes, someone else’s greed hurts innocent people.
You are absolutely right. I did engage in finger-pointing and innocent people are hurt by the greed and sin of others. I guess I “left the box” years ago after we moved to the US and one of the “church elders” who befriended us came to our home to peddle his Amway pyramid . . . probably never was in the box. I do empathize with those who are losing their jobs and homes. Everyone is caught in the effects of this meltdown. I’m simply tired of hearing the call for bail out, whether it is financial institutions, home owners, government, etc. I am tired of the sense of entitlement expressed by so many who are calling for the bailout of home owners losing their homes. When all is said and done, in many, many cases those mortgages (whether ARM or fixed-rate) were taken out by individuals . . . no one had a gun to their head forcing them to sign on the dotted line. It’s easy to blame the bank or the realtor or anyone else in the process–“they didn’t tell me” … “I didn’t understand” … Not so easy to say, “I didn’t think carefully about this” or “I wanted the larger house” or “I was speculating . . . ”
I am tired of working hard to build a small business that pays wages that support 4 families only to have the growth from year to year taken away by taxes. While our business has experienced growth each year for the last three years, our personal income from the business has gone down because our tax burden has increased. And now federal, state and local govt wants more. There are times when I want to throw in the towel.
Certainly there are circumstances that are out of our control; however our culture is one in which consumerism is encouraged, entitlement is cultivated and greed is the bottom line. What we call poverty in the great majority of this country is wealth in most of the rest of the world. Yet we want more, better, and more . . . no matter the cost.
It all just makes me tired. I do wonder where is grace in all of this? Quite frankly, I do wonder where is God in all of this? Likely right where He’s always been . . . loving us as no other whether or not we prosper as defined by our culture. I am praying that I will be open to His quiet voice to respond to others’ need with love and patience (a quality I am sorely lacking).
Just a bit of history here.
The banks and mortgage companies are in need of a bailout because so many people are filing for bankruptcy and having their homes foreclosed. And just so we are clear, foreclosure and bankruptcy mean that people aren’t paying back the money they borrowed.
Why aren’t they paying them back? Because they rushed to get into the housing market.
They rushed to get into the housing market because home prices were escalating at astronomical rates in some places. I live in San Diego, I know this first hand.
Why were housing prices escalating? Because the borrowing rate was at historical lows. Which made a mad rush to borrow and buy, which pushed the prices up.
ALOT of people I know bought with risky loans on the idea they would flip the property at some unknown future peak to make money.
Why were interest rates so low? Because the economy was “sluggish” and needed incentive to borrow and spend money.
Remember a few years ago someone said “buying a home is part of the american dream”? Friends, banks and the government were all encouraging people they knew to buy a home. There was no better time.
Yes, there was irresponsible lenders in the market. But by and large, banks need a bailout because the avg joe was greedy.
P.S. Businesses closing have more to do with greater global pressures, i.e. rising cost of materials, energy, etc. Business closings fueled the foreclosure, bankruptcy problem. Not the other way around.
Yes, there is enough greed to go around, but the sub-prime thing was a Ponzi scheme of sorts, and the people who bought the houses didn’t dream that scheme up.
The way loans are put together is a ridiculous mishmash of unclear language and buried truths. I write for a living and I can tell you that all loan forms are abominable English written by nonwriters to guarantee that no one knows what the heck they are signing—and that’s on purpose. You shouldn’t have to wield an arsenal of lawyers day in and day out in life, but we are fast becoming such a society because of the greed at the top, not at the bottom.
Whoever devised the sub-prime mortgages really is irrelevant. It is the greed at the top AND the bottom that has brought us to this crisis. The bottom line is that individuals driven by whatever motive signed on the bottom line taking out a mortgage they did not understand. Paul is right, ALOT of people took on risky loans speculating . . . gambling . . . that they could flip the property, make a lot of money and go on to the next project. ALOT of people bought more house than they needed or could afford for whatever reason.
So who do we blame? Parent because they didn’t teach their children? Educators because they haven’t done a good job of teaching students how to think and ask questions? How about those who write the loan documents? It’s their fault for not writing clearly enough for us to understand. No, it’s the lawyers . . . no, it’s the financial institutions . . . no, . . . It’s never me, I’m responsible.
While I sympathize with Paul, the retired CEO, he asks “How have I erred to deserve this?” That same question can be asked by any number of people worldwide . . . the 7-year-old Cambodian girl who was sold into slavery to serve the desires of evil men . . . the victims of Ruanda’s genocide . . . secret believers in predominately Muslim countries . . . need I go on. If we all got what we deserved, what exactly would that be?
He states he is “neither rich nor profligate” . . . “saving carefully all my life,” . . . and lives a ” ‘stripped down’ life style with very little excess.” How exactly do you measure wealth? Do you have a roof over your head? Three meals a day? Clothes on your back? Can you care for your children? So you don’t eat out alot . . . but do you eat? You don’t buy designer clothes . . . but do you have clothes?
After having lived in Ethiopia for three years (in the late 1970s), my spouse still only eats two meals a day . . . not to save for the future, but because it is impossible to justify eating three meals a day knowing people who don’t have even one meal a day. The thought of the suffering of these people still brings tears . . . 30 years later.
The world is laughing at us waiting to see if those soft Americans will destroy each other in the mad scramble to protect the essential material things we possess. We are, in fact, ruled by things and the need to feed that dragon. Because we as individuals have been unable to distinguish need from want, we have a government that can’t distinguish need from want. A bailout only postpones the inevitable since it does not address the root cause–greed.
This is a huge wake up call for believers. I am praying that I will not be ruled by fear and again that I will respond to others with love and patience.
I don’t understand the mad rush to blame the people at the bottom on this. That’s like blaming the fish for the net that caught them. No matter how I look at this, it’s almost like people get affirmation by creating a group of people they feel superior to—in this case, sub-prime mortgage holders.
But there’s a problem with that thinking. People who hold sub-prime loans have an average credit rating in the low 700s. No, that’s not perfect, but it’s well within the range of most homeowners. So these are not stupid people or even people with lousy credit. They were offered a deal on a mortgage and they took it.
It’s no different than taking an adjustable-rate mortgage. In fact, I have heard from a few people in the mortgage industry who say that ARMs are the majority loan for buyers. Many people feel that they can get a few years of lower rates on the ARM, then switch to a fixed-rate loan later. And many people do that. Some people consider that a shrewd move.
However, many people with ARMs got burned badly in the housing downturn. Conventional wisdom backfired on them—heinously. Many of them are the ones losing their homes now, not just sub-prime buyers. Were they greedy, stupid, and bad credit risks?
I was taught by my parents to avoid fixed-rate loans like the plague. Most people don’t get that advice. A couple years ago, many would claim it is foolish advice. But I got a fixed-rate loan and refinanced it when fixed-rate loans bottomed out, and I’m perfectly happy with my mortgage. Does that make me smart?
I am more willing to blame the chuckleheads who came up with these stupid debt instruments that are now threatening our country. They got rich off these things, not the people who bought them.
I hear what you are saying. And this is an extremely multifaceted subject — yes there is enough blame to go around.
But I am soooooo tired of something going wrong in this country and the public starts looking to washington or some other place to place ALL the blame or find the WHOLE solution.
When was the last time you heard any news story or politician saying “the American public is to be blamed for…” Never. Its never OUR fault, its ALWAYS someone else’s fault.
I work at a newspaper as a journalist. I know the stories we wrote on the housing and lending issues two, three and four years ago, warning of the housing bubble and warning of these sub-prime loans. People in our circulation knew. Didn’t stop them.
I have two close friends who have filed for bunkruptcy just because of their mortgages. They tried to get more than they could in a home and got whatever mortgage to get them into it.
They new what they were getting into with their loans. But they don’t seem bothered by the fact that someone loaned them that money and it won’t be repaid. They feel relieved they got out of it though. So, what about that bank that gave them the money? What about its employees that have family and mortgages?
This is true when we some politician goes south and we all wonder how this happened. Well, maybe it was that vote you gave for them that put them in office. This is true when some believer(s) go south in that south-eastern state after talking about orbs, portals and teleportation. Maybe its because we went and gave our money?
Lets end with the yeah buts and first take ownership of our problems, even if there is another party involved that shares blame.
Living among the irresponsible, the avaricious, the completely selfish can be difficult, those church folk ought to know better! 😉
Seriously, when I think about letting the chickens come back to roost and looking the other way while the country’s financial system swirls around on its way down the bowl, Jeremiah’s (29:4-7) words haunt me:
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Even if greed has led us to this place, I can’t bring myself to desire that the whole house of cards be left to the wind and its fate. It will destroy the land and what’s left of the economy. Me and mine cannot possibly go through that unscathed. So, I find myself praying for the peace and prosperity of America.
I wonder what the guy who told me while I lived in the u.s. that consumerism was what made America great would be thinking right now…
While I greatly admire both you and your blog, I have to say that the financial crisis facing our country today is too dire and too complex to be dealt with by saying “let the consequences fall.” When you are speaking of consequences that will befall every man and woman in the country, it seems that some action on the part of the government to avert such a disaster is only reasonable, no matter how “libertarian” you may be regarding the government’s proper role.
Surely, there is at least one person in our country innocent of greed, and, if so, can’t we ask God to spare our land for that one’s sake?
I’m the last to defend rabid consumerism and uncontrolled capitalism, but can we not pray that we learn our lessons without unmitigated disaster being our lot? I’m a retiree, who earned his living in an honorable fashion (though my title, CEO, is much maligned by undiscriminating folks today). I am neither rich nor profligate. I have saved carefully all my life, while trying to be a responsible citizen, father, and husband. I invested my savings cautiously and conservatively. I live a “stripped down” life style with very little excess. Yet, all my life’s plans and hopes are at risk. The value of my savings is dropping wildly. How have I erred to deserve this? Why should I not turn to my government to protect me and all the nation from such a fate? I don’t ask to be treated as a victim, just as a citizen.
Surely, the responsibility of the government is to promote the general welfare of its people. Letting the chips fall where they may is a glib response to a vast horror.
Reasons why I oppose the bailout:
1. It may create the very disaster it is trying to avoid. Many wise money people believe that to be the case.
2. We cannot keep on as a nation believing that the sins of a few have no consequence to the many. Not everyone in Israel worshiped the false gods, but everyone went into captivity for the sins of the ones who did.
3. The current bailout package, as worded, violates the entirety of what the founders of this country envisioned as economic freedom. It signs away the people of this country to the government. Our founders would have died to prevent that from happening. Yet we’re willing to roll over because we might lose some of our possessions. Are we that pathetic?
We have got to start seeing that greed and malfeasance have consequences. If it means this country descends into madness and the rest of the world along with it to learn that lesson, then that may very well be where we have to go to find healing. Putting off the punishment now may only make the future punishment all the worse.
God has been trying to tell this country that as much as we pay lip service to Him, our trust is in our own judgments and our money. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes, as the Bible says. God hates that.
The rich and corporations pay most of the taxes in this country. Let them pay for their own bailout.
Without the FDIC, saving money in the bank would be a calculated risk to the man on the street, just like every other investment. That the Federal Reserve has to keep its list of bad banks secret shows how little the man on the street trusts the federal government.
..there is a so terrible strong connection between money/posessions and how we interpret the world ( as in biblical terms),
that we litterally LIVE inside our minds, only
that has nothing to do with reality
and so a lot of ‘faith ‘ has no connection with reality
I do not wish nobody to live on the streets – but it is almost blasfemy to ask Him to restore the present babylon
– you know: when WW I started,
everybody, and especially the young soldiers, were enormously happy and proud.
Not because of the war itself – soon, they would realize that the new kind of warfare was the most gruesome ever invented –
but it was like the people were FREE again; they found eachother; they escaped from the mental and daily prison,
what they had been pushed into by the ‘elite ‘, the slavemasters.
Lucifer felt that the réal threat was the desire from men to be free – and since, he developed a prison, in what people THINK they are happy and prosper – exactly as Huxley predicted.
and therefore, we by reflex hold on to the ‘technical blessings of Lucifer ‘
do not ask Him for restoration of the prison; please cut down where You can; and wait and learn to hearken His Voice ONLY
– that we will loose EVERYTHING, anyway,
is BUT A MATTER OF TIME
love for all of You
We generally accept that, through grace, God removes the eternal consequences for sin – whether it’s greed or something else – but does nothing to remove the temporal ones; the ones that still leave pain in this life. We accept that He does so because we would not learn to leave sin in the pig sty and the cesspool if He didn’t.
Why do we not accept that our grace should not exceed God’s, for the same reason?
In this case, it’s because we’ve been sold a story that there’s a pot of gold at the bottom of the muck, and eventually we’ll all wade (or plunge) right back into it.
(Or at least go fishin’ in it!)
One lesson we need to learn from this crisis is that our country, from the lowest citizen to the highest leader, is beholden to debt. Few go into business, buy a house, or go to college these days without shouldering debt. Many people eschew as much as debt as they can, other than student debt and mortgages. Still, almost every business, including the ones for which they work and where they buy goods and services, are saddled with revolving debt structures. If credit dries up, then the economy suffers badly, because cash on hand is so sparse in so many quarters. When individual stocks crash, the company cannot go on in many cases, not because people are unwilling to buy their products and services, but because the company no longer has the means to pay their debts. The governor of Virginia recently wanted to raise taxes during a budget surplus, not so much because we needed the money, but so credit rating agencies would not lower the ratings of Virginia. We had to raise taxes, according to the governor, so we could more affordably borrow money.
This attitude will not change for most of our society. The citizenry may decide to cut back on debt and increase savings, but big business and many large purchases (housing, schooling, health care) practically require debt to finance purchases and operations.
I don’t believe debt is necessarily a bad thing. I’ve seen people who think they are being wise with their money vow never to buy anything on debt. They then dip deep into their savings to pay out-of-pocket for big-ticket items; they then get hit with a side disaster only to find they have no funds to weather the new storm.
but at least in ancient times, each seventh year all debt was suspended.
The muslim law forbids rate, but not the debt itself; that is at least something.
The Talmud, however, also forbids rent on a fellowman – but NOT on a heathen ( us ). Worse: it specifically says to destroy the goyim with every debt and rent possible.
It raises the question, whÃ¡t system we are under – and under ‘who ‘.
It cannot revive. It is terminally ill. As He knew already.
I heard a similar line of argument from a Christian friend who works for an insurance company. If I understood him correctly, he did not like Dave Ramsey preaching the ‘become debt-free’ message because from his perspective, what made the American economy run is that thing Ramsey encouraged people to get free from: debt.
Say I’m a farmer and buy a tractor for $40,000. If I pay that out of my pocket, I’ve depleted money that could be earning a higher interest rate than what I’m paying the bank for the loan. That’s stupid. I pay 6 percent on the tractor interest and get 15 percent interest in investing that same money.
Don’t go in debt for little things. But don’t tie up your savings in big-ticket items that can earn higher interest.
Gosh, Dan! Where can you get a 6% bank loan and a 15% return on an investment? 🙂
My last car loan was 6 percent and the stock market has traditionally returned around 15 percent. No big effort there.
A truly happy person is one that is debt free! we are not to owe anything. Belonging to the bank is a dangerous place to be. I have been there and it is not fun. We need our daily bread and that should be enough. Happy is the man who does not belong to the bank.
Oh and praying to God for restoration is good. I asked God to help me get out of debt.. guess what.. the bank withheld my overdraft. I was angry but elated that I was coming out of debt. Every month I had less and less overdraft available and now I am sitting in the positive for once. I still owe a lot in other areas but God is a God of restoration, if we ask and if we remain faithful with our money and steward correctly.
Is there any lessons from the Jewish law of Jubilee that could be applied to this?
Yes. Such a thing is possible when we pursue local economies rather than global ones.
I’m firmly convinced that virtually everyone in the US (and quite a number of folks outside the US) are responsible for this crisis. But in the end, that’s irrelevant. The question isn’t, “Should taxpayer be held responsible for this failure?”, but rather, “Will taxpayers be better off if they pony up money to hold the financial system together?” And there’s really only one answer to that question. If Congress doesn’t get its act together, and pass a significant rescue plan, we’re looking at another Great Depression. And nobody wins in those circumstances.
Maybe the Great Depression we get by NOT responding will be better than the Greater Depression we get if we do. It sure seems to me that each move the government has made so far has been wrong. Whatever happened to letting the markets correct themselves?
I’m a big fan of “moral hazard” and of letting the market correct itself — whenever the market is functioning, and can recover by itself, without taking everything down with it. I’m concerned because the market clearly isn’t functioning well, and the process of deleveraging that needs to happen might very well take down the US economy with it. As I posted on my blog recently, the deleveraging that resulted in the Great Depression was like a three story wooden house collapsing. The deleveraging that will be required here could very well be like the Twin Towers collapsing. If the markets aren’t functioning, you don’t let the markets take care of themselves. It’s the same reason we have an SEC, a Federal Reserve, and FDIC: the Great Depression proved that there are certain times when the markets don’t function correctly, and when that happens, the government has to step in, with money in the short-term, and regulation in the long-term. Most economists seem convinced that this is one of those times, and from everything I know (having worked in the mortgage industry for 8 years, and with direct exposure to corporate finance for another 8), I fully agree.
Some very wise money-minded people are convinced this country would be much better off economically if we got rid of the IRS, the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and most of the “supervisory” organizations that deal with money in our nation. In fact. many of them believe it was the wranglings of those organizations that led to this mess.
The government ruins most everything it touches save for precious few things it does well.
The worst thing is, when ever America has financial difficulty or any major country has financial troubles.. it’s a domino effect on other countries.. every country battles when a prominent country struggles.. the whole world will suffer..
American more than most because so many countries have their investments and currency tied to American interests. This latest unrest, though, is undoing that reality. We may see more people putting their stock in euros after this is all over. The trend was that way anyway.