Should a Christian Declare Bankruptcy?

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Many Christians are interested in the topic of Christian bankruptcy.  The question of Christians and bankruptcy can be discussed on two levels.  I’ll call the first the “ideal level” and the second the “sin stained” level.

Series on Christian Bankruptcy

Article Two  Eight Considerations When Trying to Decide if Bankruptcy is your Best Available Option.

Article three  Establishing Borrowing Boundaries.  The purpose is to introduce how to avoid bankruptcy.

The burden of bankruptcy

Should a Christians Declare Bankruptcy: The Ideal Level

On the one hand, the Bible does not deal specifically with the word bankruptcy.

On the other hand, the Bible does address borrowing and the importance of vows.  A vow is simply a promise.  In our society, every dollar we borrow we sign a legal document.  That document is our written vow to repay the debt.  Here are a few of many such verses:

The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously. (Psalm 37:21 NIV)

When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 NIV)

And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:36-37 NIV)

On the theoretical level if we were to invert the question – is it good for a Christian to borrow and not repay, the obvious answer is no. Borrowing and not repaying hinders a positive Christian witness.  It hinders trust and credibility.  It violates the golden rule.  But, that does not mean these verses are the end of a discussion.  They are instead the beginning of our discussion.

Should A Christian Declare Bankruptcy: The Sin Stained Level

I believe God has always been a God who presents the ideals to humanity while recognizing the reality of our sin stained world.  Take, for example, the issue of divorce (for illustrative purposes, not to start a huge theological debate).  The Pharisees ask Jesus if it is “lawful to divorce” (Mt. 19:3).  Jesus says divorce is not lawful – on the ideal level.  You will not find Bible verses that discuss divorce as a good thing (Mt. 19:4-6).  Nevertheless, because of the hardness of peoples’ hearts, there is a certificate of divorce (Mt. 19:8).

The discussion has now moved from ideal to the sin stained level.  Not divorcing is the ideal, yet a certificate of divorce exists because God recognizes a sin stained level where the ideal is no longer possible.  In those cases, the individual must then seek the best available alternative.

The reality is that many Christians are in positions where they simply do not have the money available to repay loans. Many Christians are in situations where they have creditors who are unwilling to work with them.  So my question, on the sin stained level, is what are they supposed to do?  They cannot make money appear.  They cannot make debt disappear. As a result, bankruptcy may be their only option.  In some cases it might just be the next best course of action.

Notice specifically this is not a discussion of declaring yourself bankrupt out of convenience or because it is an ideal financial decision.  In those cases I believe it would be a violation of Biblical principles to refuse to pay debtors.  This discussion, however, does apply to those who do not have an actual means to settle their debt.

If bankruptcy is necessary, it is important that Christians have boundaries in place to help lead them through the process.

Conclusion

Often the discussion of bankruptcy is a ‘reactive’ discussion.

A person is in debt, does not have the money necessary, and is not receiving any mercy from a lender.  However, it would be better to devote our energy to discussing the question should a Christian make decisions that might put them in a place where it will be necessary for them to declare bankruptcy? The answer to this question is no.  This is a ‘proactive’ discussion where we can help people avoid getting into a place where the ideal is no longer an option for them.  People often are not blessed by the processes.  Thus, the next important question is what can Christians and churches be doing to help their members and community avoid this situation?

Photo Credit littledan77

Any thoughts on this analysis of bankruptcy?  What do you think churches and Christians can be doing to help people avoid situations of bankruptcy?

Comments

  1. JMC74 says

    I would like to comment on this. I am a Christian and had to file bankruptcy, it was either that or be evicted from my house. I’m married with two young children. This was not something my husband & I took lightly, it was done as a last resort. Over a two year time span he lost 75% of his pay; he is payed 100% commission so if the work isn’t there he doesn’t get paid and since we live in Michigan it’s not like he could leave his job and find a better paying one. No matter how much we cut expenses, we still were unable to pay for our house & cars by the end of those two years. We had asked for our lenders to work with us and they were unwilling to work with us so we kept paying as much as we had and they finally gave up on us and were ready to come & reposses our cars & evict us from our house. It’s not something my husband and I are proud of by any stretch of the imagination and it’s not something we decided to do on a whim. This was the work of many hard choices & decisions made over two years. I have a whole new outlook on people who find themselves in that position because not everyone gets there by buying whatever they want on credit.

    • Craig says

      @JMC74 – Thank you for your comment. I think you illustrate perfectly what I hope is the point of this post – there are circumstances where bankruptcy is inevitable. One thing I should have emphasized more is that on this ‘sin stained’ level the ‘fault’ does not necessarily fall on the individual. At times it is simply part of living in a sin stained world that is not yet a full reflection of God’s ideal.
      Typically those who have gone through a bankruptcy wish never to repeat the process – it is stressful and painful. Not at all what God intended, but in this fallen world many times we experience life as ‘less than ideal’. Thanks also for pointing out that not all bankruptcies result from overspending.
      I’m glad you shared your story because it gives a wonderful background through which to read and understand this post.

  2. says

    Craig,
    Thanks for your thoughtful and sensitive way of dealing with this issue. I like your “ideal” and “sin stained” levels, and the issue of divorce is an apt analogy. I think the previous comment from JMC74 shows us how sometimes Christians just don’t have any other choices.
    .-= Joe Plemon´s last blog ..Life Insurance Basics: Part One =-.

  3. Sue Moody says

    There are millions of people out of work in 2010 and can’t find jobs, this year or last year and maybe the year before. I’m 58 years old, have a post graduate degree and unemployed with no prospects. I have poured every available penny to maintain my credit and pay my bills, and borrowed on my credit cards to keep my bills paid on time.. Even though I was never 30 days late, creditors raised my interest rate to 29.9 before the new credit card law took affect. I’ve reached the point where I’ve recognized that I can no longer pay my credit card bills and keep a roof over my head, too, and that I’ll be paying the cards, which I haven’t used in years, for years to come. I’m faced with bankruptcy and distraught about it. I’ve prayed and feel that God is directing me toward the reality I have to face. The Bible allows for forgiveness of debts. I’ve honestly tried to pay my bills through long unemployment. I have to accept my failure to keep paying and God’s forgiveness and try to move on.

    • says

      @Sue
      You are on the right track. Focus on the roof over your head and put the cards second. If there is nothing left to pay your credit cards then contact them. If they force you into a bankruptcy then you’ve done as much as you can.

  4. Gladys says

    Hi
    I’am in the same boat, my husband I will be filing next month. I feel absolutely terrible about it. I feel like the worst Christian about having to do this, but my husband is not working and the credit card payments take most of my pay. We just cannot keep paying them, even though I would like to. I don’t want to do this, but we just cannot pay them any longer and the balances don’t go down because the interest is too high.

    • says

      Gladys,
      Please be encouraged. Since you are in a situation where this option is unavoidable I’d encourage you to look ahead and use this fresh start to make a real difference in your finances.

  5. Eric Stover says

    My wife and switched roles several years ago and I have been trying to find a job and pay a babysitter when I do find a job. The delicate balance went south when I started working construction. We were not paying bills and not able to pay taxes. We incurred penalties on our taxes and the debt relief program we were using took so much money from us and did not pay the creditors that they filed a law suit against us. To top it off, I was traveling hundreds of miles just to get to a job site (gas, taxes, and buying supplies). I was on the hunt for another job, but had to quit paying the debt relief people because they were so expensive. Bankruptcy is our only option, but my brother whom has a masters degree in ministries, but does not minister anywhere lambasted me the other day and said the debt I can’t repay will be held against me. I feel sick.

    • says

      Eric,
      I’m sorry for the hard time you are going through. The idea of debt forgiveness is not foreign in the Bible (Deut 15 and Luke 18:23ff). The overarching theme is one of mercy. If you are in a situation where you cannot repay your loans then you can consider bankruptcy. Perhaps in the future you can repay it. Please, be comforted – God understands our limitations and has will not punish those who are unable (not unwilling) to repay their debts.

  6. Gladys says

    We plan to go on strict cash basis after filing. It will be difficult, will take a lot of discipline to do so. Just like you said in your article about “sin stain level”. I so agree with you. Here my husband and I are a good example of Christian marriage, but we are horrible at being disciplined about our finances. I guess as Christians we are not perfect and we all fail in some area, finances is ours. We were going to keep paying these cards as long as my husband was employed (even if they never go paid off). All bets were off when my husband got laid off, unfortunately. I still feel guilty about it, but I guess as long as we are on this earth, we will not be perfect (sinless) in ALL areas of our lives.

    • says

      Gladys,
      I think you have identified the most important issue at this point – what do you do next. You seem to have a good plan in place and as long as you keep focused and disciplined you’ll be able to make the best of this situation.

  7. eric says

    I will try to keep it short, but it will be hard to do. I am a self employed financial advisor dealing in Investments and insurance. I used to do mortgages, but not anymore. My wife and I have always been very frugal and lived below our means paying cash for everything. Once we were in business, we found ourselves having to accumulate some debt, but not much. Once we had our first son we soon decided to have my wife stay at home and help me with the business when she could. I did good enough to go out on my own and had saved some money up to open my own office. I hired an office manager and opened an office in January 2008, which was probably the worst time in history to do so in my industry considering the Financial Meltdown that followed. With my lease and employee I had a $7000 nut to crack every month. My income went to $4000 per month with the market crash so the rest went on credit cards. I was obligated to the lease and I wanted to do everything I could to keep paying my office manager. I held on longer than I should have though. I depleted all my savings and retirement as well as maxed out all my cards just trying to survive with the hopes of a turn around. Through a lot of prayer and counsel, I decided to downsize and change Broker Dealers, but things were very bleak. We were about to lose our home and we had accumulated some medical bills as well. At that point my wife and I decided to tythe above and beyond the 10%. I felt God was saying “trust me!” Since then we were let out of our lease($4,000) and multiple medical debts($5,000) have been forgiven. My expenses are now reduced to about $5,000, we saved our home and I am making more money. However, I have a to make a decision. All of the credit card debt is looming($54,000) and in collections. I have offered to pay a little something each month, but they will not take it. Even though it was mostly business debt it is all on my personal credit. They are going to start placing judgements on me and I have consulted an attorney and they are saying a chapter 13 would not do me any good and that a 7 is the best route for me, especially since I could be in a bad standing with my company for doing a 13 vs. a 7(not sure why). I am really struggling with this decision. We have always been very good with personal finances, but a bad business timing decision to try and hang on has put us here. Even though there were circumstances out of my control, I feel totally responsible and in the past I would not have had too much mercy on someone like me. God has been good to us and I am in a business that could produce some huge commissions and could just produce what I need or nothing, it is so uncertain. Also, our third child is on the way which will be more expense and my wife is homeschooling to ensure that we bring them up with a christian education so her working is not an option. God has really brought me to my knees and closer to him through all of this. My pride has been broken and I realize that he owns it all. I am really not sure if I am supposed to just get ti done and move on so that I can share my experience and be more merciful to others in the same situation or am I just supposed to work as hard as I can and watch him provide the means to pay it off to teach me a lesson of faith. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. In him, Eric

    • says

      Eric,
      Thanks for your comment.
      First, let me say that I’m terribly sorry for everything that you’ve encountered over the last few years. That must be terribly difficult. Fortunately, it sounds like your faith is an anchor during this difficult time.
      My advice is simple.
      1. Commit each day to prayer. Keep laying that solid foundation.
      2. Take each day at a time. The whole ordeal sounds so overwhelming.
      3. Prioritize your spending. Be sure that your immediate family needs are give priority over any pressure a credit card company might put on you.
      4. Continue to contact your creditors and let them know what you can and cannot do.
      In the end they may force you into bankruptcy. Just be sure you are doing what you can.

    • Sue says

      I am in a similar situation in regards to not knowing if I should wait to see if God will provide…ir do we need to file. What happened with you?

  8. Murray says

    Craig:

    Thank you for your thoughts on this subject. My wife and I are at the point where we may have to file bankruptcy. I have been downsized 4 times in 5 years and am finding it more and more difficult to find a job. My question is what you feel are the ramifications for a minister/pastor filing bankruptcy. I have a seminary degree and am looking for a church position, but somewhat feel filing bankruptcy would eliminate me from a ministry position. I would appreciate your honest opinion.

    • says

      Murray,
      I hope it doesn’t impact your ministry position. I don’t think it should. However, it does depend on each individual congregation.

  9. Yvonne says

    I have been wrestling for two years about filing for bankruptcy as a Christian. I have been looking for answers on the internet. Some condemn Christians for filing bankruptcy others are more sympathetic. First, I did not set out to defraud anyone. I had very good credit. All that came to an end after separation from my husband. I raised two children (presently in college) from elementary age without any child support. I used credit to helpout with daycare costs, bills, etc. I found a part-time job and with the help of family members was doing ok and paying my bills. Then family members lost income. I lost my part-time job and I started taking loans from my 401k to pay bills which reduced my take home pay from my full-time job. So I found myself as the saying goes “taking from Peter to pay Paul”, etc. I pay you this month, next month I pay the other person. Meanwhile I am incurring late fees and high interest rates. Collection calls Sunday through Saturday at home and on my job at times. I do not even answer my phone anymore. I went to see a bankruptcy lawyer to see if a chapter 13 filing would help out. The lawyer told me that I do not have enough income to file a chapter 13. That I have to file a chapter 7. He gave me some papers to fill out and to return them with $500. The full cost is $2,500. I do not have that kind of money. For the past two years I kept saying I can handle this without bankruptcy. Instead, things have become unmanageable. I have been sued by one creditor; the case is pending. My bills each month exceed my net income. There is just not enough income to pay all these bills. Bankruptcy has been upper most in my mind. I do not know if this is where I am being led by Christ or if it is just my own decision. However, I know that something has to be done. I just can’t act, as though I do not have a problem. Looking forward to your comment on this. Thanks.

    • says

      Yvonne,

      Sorry that it took so long for me to reply to your comment. I’ve been on vacation and I haven’t been returning emails or replying to comments. I’m so sorry to hear about your difficult situation.

      I believe that you are in the category that I mention in the article when I wrote, “The reality is that many Christians are in positions where they simply do not have the money available to repay loans. Many Christians are in situations where they have creditors who are unwilling to work with them.”

      You need to continue doing whatever is in your control on these bills. If creditors call you and ask for loan repayments then honestly let them know that you don’t have the money. Don’t let them bully you or make you feel guilty. You can’t make money appear out of nowhere. When companies know that you don’t have anything to use to pay them off they will likely be more willing to work with you. If in the end you are forced to file bankruptcy then you know you’ve done what you can.

      Sorry I can’t make the situation even easier. Pray continually.

  10. Krystal says

    You didn’t mention non credit card debt… all my debts are incoured from hospital bills due to false diagnosis, and finally a surgery. i’ve never had a credit card, i don’t believe in debt. however i had no other choice on this surgery. what does the bible say about this? i want to file but don’t know if its the right thing to do. im engaged to be married and plan to stay home to run the home.

    • says

      Krystal,
      I’m not sure that I find anything in the Bible that distinguishes between the type of debt. If you have a way to repay then you should. However, if you’ve done all you can to repay then eventually the hospital may force you into bankruptcy.

  11. nicka says

    I have been wrestling with filing for bankruptcy for about a year now. I havent been very good with my money. I am always doing for people even when I dont have it. This last year I have had major problems with my house. I have had to pay thousands of dollars out of my pocket to take care of issues with my house(including electrical problems, fires, squirrels in the attic, plumbing, water damage and the list goes on). The house depleted the little savings I did have. Finally, after the fire I left and didnt move back in when the insurance company made the repairs because I just couldn’t do it anymore. Now I am trying to sell this house which has so many issues and I will still end up paying the difference on the house. I just dont know what to do. The Lord does not answer me when I ask him about what im suppose to do. I just want to be up from under this house because its draining my pockets. I pay my tithes and I try to help people all the time so I just dont understand why every time I try to get my fiances right with the house something major happens. I think im at the point of just giving up.

    • says

      Nicka,
      I’m sorry you’re in such a stressful situation. I can’t imagine how hard that must be. I would seek a Christ honoring financial advisor or sit down with a leader at your church. There are many details that would need to be analyzed before I could ever being to give you wise advice.
      For now be sure you are putting first things first. Give priority of your time to you faith. Give priority of your money to the things that are most important to for living.
      May God give you peace and wisdom.

  12. Richard says

    Christians: Don’t borrow and then not pay it back..
    Christians: Plan for the future $ave and always have a years “cost” in cash as a safety net.. Lots of “stories ” as I read them and I have little doubt that many if any would “hold water” if we had the ability to examine private truths..
    But lets say you did all you could .. That you never over spent.. that you never bought on credit.. why are you buying n credit in the first place? Oh You NEED IT NOW!!!
    Hummmmm
    So you default.. you lied to the lender.. and you lied to GOD.. hummmm You stole from the lender if your not paying it back.. Bottom Line your a thief! UNLESS… Before you even begin the Bankruptcy procedure you have begun a plan to Pay Back Ever Dollar! Maybe not the “new acquired interest” but every dollar owed BEFORE … default! Yes INTEREST AND ALL….
    You people are choosing to twist this ( The Bible ) to benefit you …. A Lot!
    #1. It was a National Year of Debt Forgiveness.. Lets say it ALL started in the year 1.. and in the year 8 All Debts were known to be forgiven.. It was knowledge known ahead of time.. Therefore FEW loans were ever made.. and People were taking before the Judges for debts and often sent to Prison!
    That said… the closer to the Anniversary date the smaller the loan was , that was made…
    These were ALL Personal Loans.. loans between TWO Individuals..!!! Your Honor and Community Standing No Doubt stood in the balance.. at least to some extent.. Do you think loans were made over and over again to those who just borrowed and borrowed and NEVER Paid back..????
    #2. This was very discriminatory policy .. Its was ONLY between JEWS! Only Jews!
    JEWS were Never Required to forgive debts of “others”…
    Well That’s a good start.. let the whining and the excuses begin..

  13. Richard says

    Craig IMHO ? Maybe? Too Much Grace is already being shown..
    #1. Losing your home? Did you opt for a 5% down loan? or a much more realistic 20% dn.
    Did your new cost cost PITI come to ever 40% of your monthly net.. add 10% Tithe and 10% personal Long term savings and your left with 40% for all the rest…
    #2. Credit Cards.. do you buy what you need and THEN pay it off every month? Zero it out even every other month? Or even every year? Should we now discuss Dave Ramsey here?
    You Borrowed ? YOU OWE IT!
    Are there a few instances when you have No Control? Yes there are.. Medical bills is one IF??? You chose to have Medical Insurance!! Comes out of your wages or your 40%..

    • Ashley says

      I think it could strongly benefit you to remember Matthew 7 as well. I too could not understand these same issues because I always worked to pay cash, I did not use credit, I saved up. Unfortunately there comes a point where you spend your savings & you have no other way to feed your families without taking assistance or using credit but I have learned a lesson from it – God promises our food will be sure so why use credit & put ourselves in further debt to provide the things God promises to provide?

      I have learned that nothing I can do in this world will save me from the lessons God needs to apply to my life; to help me become the person that is fit to be with Him in heaven. Not to say that I have any guarantee of heaven but sometimes it takes extreme circumstances to help understand the difficulties others face. As with any other mistakes in life, the object of a lesson is to learn from it & make changes for the future – determining whether or not to go bankruptcy is a personal decision to be made between an individual or family & God.

      God wants us to have a relationship with him; the cost of a bankruptcy is of no consequence to him. I am struggling with this decision for our family & in responding to your comments I have since realized where I stand on this. I know that I will follow God’s commands & be careful of our investments in the future & not allow myself to use credit unnecessarily. I also know that while I feel this is something God would judge me for & look negatively upon, I now realize where my spiritual journey has started in all of this & the growth that has developed with my God – I will gladly accept the responsibilities, learn from my mistakes & trust in God in the future, so I feel that for me going through bankruptcy to gain a relationship with him is so wonderful!

      I have one last question for you — if you are so wise financially to never put yourself in this position, why the interest in others views on bankruptcy? If you are not concerned with/facing bankruptcy, then why should you worry about these comments or even look at this article? That’s rhetorical – search your heart & answer that for yourself.

  14. Stacey says

    I have just begun making payments toward fulfilling the filing fee for my bankruptcy. I struggled for years with the thought of what it would do to me and others even though I was given advice by elderly people that I trusted to do so. Actually I’ve been pretty good with my finances throughout the years except for college loans. I went for 14 years of my adult life without using a single credit card, and I saved money for car repairs, and paid a little on all my bills each month. I took on financial responsibility of my college loans halfway through and I thought I was leaving with a debt load of 12,000.00 of which I paid 3,000.00 while I was still in school. But as it turns out there is another 12,000 loan owed that has spiraled up to 30,000 now because of deferments, forbearances, and interest. I worked alot but also hit hardships and paid about half of the private loan that did go into judgement, default for seven years and finally cleared from my credit report, but with the economy and loss of jobs going from 10.45 an hour working in an accounting department and living on my own with a roommate to now living at home for the past six years with little to no income except on a substitute basis it has driven me to this option of filing for bankruptcy. There was some kind of wrong doing on the institutional level that brought me to this place and I being a young and naive college student seeing no other course than to finish school so that I could get a job. “on my own” went ahead and signed on the dotted line,etc. I’m glad I finished but I had no idea what it would cost me to study theology in school, and no real support at home or at the school to do something more and I’m not sure I had it together enough myself to make sure that all that happened anyway. I do know however that I have been scorned to no end by people who have thought that I hated money and people who do make money just because I chose to go after God and study his word. One denominational church sought to show me that studying theology before going into ministry was not helpful to me because I would be seen as a threat to religious groups I wanted to join and other denominational churches seek to show me that I overdid it by choosing that major, etc, etc, and it has been such an emotional problem, with people trying to sway you one way or the other promising heaven or threatening hell based on your each and every move. I’m so gratefully I finally have the courage to do this and reduce my debt. My 84 year old monogamous grandmother, married to one man for 62 years, and my most trusted pastor and friend for several years who is in his 70′s gave me this advice to bankrupt and I’m glad I’m following through. I feel as if a burden is going to be lifted off of my shoulders and because I can finally trust that God wants to forgive me for my “responsibility” as regards this debt just the way he said he wanted to do for the Jewish people in the year of Jubilee, then I can finally move on with my life and after it’s over and the judge has made his final decision and discharged my debt, what can anyone else say. Their dirty looks and remarks won’t mean a thing because I know what God’s heart is and that he is willing to recover me all the way financially speaking.

    • Gladys says

      Hi Stacey,

      I just finished reading your post. I do sympathize with your situation. I just don’t know if you are aware that student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. Speak to an attorney before you file is my advice to you. He/she will be able to advise you which loans if any can be discharged in bankruptcy

    • says

      Stacey,

      It appears as if you have two problems that will not be addressed through bankruptcy.

      First, except for very rare occasions student loans cannot be cleared through bankruptcy. If your primary debt burden is from student loans then you need to be exploring other options.

      Second, bankruptcy does not increase your income. You seem to have an income crisis as much as a debt crisis. If you could get a job with a decent salary (which I’m confident you can) then you could clean up this issue without bankruptcy.

      Like Gladys I suggest you talk to an attorney **not a bankruptcy lawyer **.

      I think you might like to read another post I wrote – http://www.moneyhelpforchristians.com/ the-liberation-of-choice/.

  15. Amy says

    Thank you for posting that article. My husband informed me last night that we need to declare bankruptcy or our house face forclosure this coming week. Quick background, he was laid off from a very well paying job about 2 years ago and, having not been good at saving, though we didn’t have credit card debt, our house payments and student loans became to much to handle…I found out too late. You see, for me, this goes deeper than financial stress. This hits at the core of our marriage and the trust that is supposed to be there. Throughout our marriage I’ve trusted everytime he has said “everything is ok. I’ve got a plan”. Only to find out that he’s been robbing Peter to pay Paul and all the balls he was juggling are now crashing around us. I am at fault. I was not as involved in our finances or keeping him accountable for the handling of them as I should have been. But I’ve also been lied to. Everytime I questioned the spending we were doing I was assured that everything was “ok”. And yes, we went through counseling during this time…but again realizng that my husband wasn’t necessarily honest with me during those times either. We can’t lose our house. My mother lives with us and we have two children (10 years old and 18 months). Please pray for the healing of our marriage. We are very involved in ministry in our church (why I sought counseling in the first place) and feel there is no one I can talk to about this bringing shame on him/us. I feel like I am in a pit and can see no future or restoration from this one. In my head I know God is big enough…my heart is just to raw right now.

    • says

      Hi Amy, I read your post and I pray your situation is getting help. As a husband and father myself and for your husband not to seek counsel and regain your trust is not adhering to God’s teachings and doesn’t show the leadership needed in your relationship. I would truly encourage you to approach the Pastoral staff or leadership of your church with this issue and to let your husband know this and offer him the opportunity to either go himself or together; or you have no choice but to do it on your own. Set a date for this to happen. The healing and repentance will never take place if no one is showing the initiative, courage and the sincere desire to move forward in life. Otherwise, the issue(s) will only ferment or increase.

      If you are not taken seriously or the church leadership fails to see your urgent needs, then it’s time to find another church with concerned and involved leaders. But they need to know of your situation and not the misconception that everything is fine in your relationship and at home when it truly isn’t.

  16. says

    Hi, I saw your post since I’ve been searching for Biblical and Christian advice on valid reasons to file Chapter 13 to help reorganize our financial future. Unfortunately, my wife and I just left our previous church in search of another church family (not related to adverse circumstances) and we really don’t have a Pastor or Elder to consult about our circumstances and whether or not our decision would be considered appropriate within God’s word. Before moving from Germany to the US, we had to take an unsecured loan out to assist her parents we had to file the equvalent of Chapter 7 in Germany. This large amount was combined with my sister-in-law in order to take possession of the house they had to forfeit as result of their bankruptcy. No equality has come from taking possession of the house which is barely helping my sister-in-law to help her parents who are living under assisted care and she has become their full-nurse as well as balancing a full-time job.

    The cost of our move was not paid by my future employer and we had to set up a new household in a city/state far from my relatives and friends. This was another additional financial burden to add to the already unsecure debt. The new job I have has enabled me to pay my debts and we even obtain a house during that time when mortgages and new homes were a great opportunity and part of any new family’s dream. In order to balance the monthly payments and so we could have some cash flow I took out a large second mortgage. With the housing crash and our house now loosing between $50,000-60,000 in equality, the second mortgage is like having a large stone around our neck because the mortgage company will only slightly lower the interest rate and not forgive any portion of the loan.

    I’ve had to forfeit any payment for a 401K retirement plan because all available money has been directed towards paying and keeping ahead of the debts. The wife and I prayed and decided in order to get out of the financial burden we’ve carried for close to 12 years is to file Chapter 13 per the advice of a bankruptcy Attorney we have just retained, however, we haven’t set a date yet for the formal filing. We could still pay on the second mortgage for another 17 years along with our credit cards which were not used for over-indulging purchases.

    So, the issue bothering me is if we made a decision God would approve and show His mercy or if we’re simply trying to get away from paying honest debts owed to others and not complying with God’s word?

    I believe this is a right way to give us some relief make a fresh start and provide not only a retirement income for my wife and I after I retire in about 8 years, but, because we weren’t able to put any money aside for savings for any emergencies. Plus, whenever our daughter decides to marry further down the road, we would have to extend our debt again to give her an adequate wedding.

    Your thoughts, advice and prayers are welcomed.

  17. Ike Eilers says

    As more and more families fall behind on servicing their debt, the harder it will be for the economy to gain traction. Overall credit scores at the aggregate level are at the lowest in years. If consumers do not have the ability to borrow and work, which generates demand for products and services, business cannot hire to manufacture where demand is declining. When demand is in decline, unemployment is the reality and disposable income dries up. I am small shop owner in retail, I have to work twice as hard to make just 50% of what I use to make. That is a huge pay cut for my family, in turn, we have cut back tremendously on major purchases, cars, clothes, vacation, dinning out, etc…. you get the picture, I am sure! Most of you were just cursing along in life, raising your families like I, paying your bills, serving God, etc… out of the blue this economic tsunami collapse comes out of nowhere, and bang…here we are trying to navigate through the waters the best we can. Everyone that I know of is really in the same boat, some are just closer to the end of their resources than others. The economies of the world, including ours, are still deleveraging on personal debt, because when income evaporates, the ability to service that debt goes as well and defaults skyrocket. Our government bailed out the banks, who in turned bailed out their buddies and left you and I, Joe taxpaying holding the bag! Indirectly the bail outs covered your defaulted debts to the banks, Now those same banks and big business want to hold you accountable to your obligations at outrageous interest rates of 25% ++ mercilessly I might add when they received loans at 1-2% from us the government. Folks, Bankruptcy is your bail out, it’s the natural order when the economy is in decline and real income plummets, it really is an accounting issue in the fact, are you solvent or not. The banks and big business would have been in this order, if it were not for the government bailing them out on our tax dollars. When a corporation files BK, they cancel the outstanding stock and renegotiate their debt or wipe it clean. My question is simple and to the point for my fellow believers, “Why all the guilt” did you cause the/this devastating collapse in the economy? Did you accumulate debt with the sole intent on defaulting on it? Are your creditors mercilessly hounding you like a rabbit caught in the brush? Are you insolvent and need to protect your family from these blood sucking collection agencies that call you day and night disturbing your God given right to peace? And please, stop that nonsense logic of placing a bankruptcy on the same level as a divorce, that is pure nonsense. A divorce is really a spiritual issue of the heart, a personal failure in basic relationship as well as a broken promise before God and each other. The sooner you admit to the fact that your debts outweigh your assets and your ability to services that debt is nonexistence, the better off you will be. You need to think of your family and their future? Bankruptcy is not a sin, it’s abuse is? Degrees of failure in life is reality and even necessary, that’s the process to learning. That’s my two cents, I welcome yours!

  18. Carlos Botelho says

    I declared bankruptcy 8 years ago, I have been discharged and my credit is good again. I did go through a bad time when I declared bankruptcy, some people took advantage of me and I lost my job, then I left my relationship with God. I told myself I wouldn’t walk with God again. I accumulated 50k of debt with my stupidity and then declared bankruptcy, I didn’t want to declare but I was stuck. I’m 43 now and God hounded me back to His family and I’m thankful He did. Here’s my question: Since I’m back in a relationship with Christ, should I not pay that money back even though I am officially discharged? I feel like I stole that money even though I didn’t want to declare bankruptcy. Can you please reply so I can do the right thing. Thanks.

  19. Ham says

    I came to this thread as my husband and I researching different avenues to move forward during a difficult financial time. We owned a successful business for 8 years-when I say we did well I mean that I have been able to stay home with my kids for 10 years and we have never been late on any bills, but we never got ahead either (no savings etc..) We recently sold to a multi-million dollar company for growth & retirement opportunities that we would never have self-employed. Now this new company is not as busy as origonally explained when we were working on our contracts. My husband has gone from $6k/month to $3k/month….but with the same amount of debt. Now they have offered him a relocation that could be a good fit as far as future in this company goes….But how do we manage to relocate when we are realizing we won’t be able to pay all our bills/manage our house as a rental AND relocate.
    We have considered doing a Dignified Forclosure where they can possess the home in 30 days, but it’s twice as expensive to rent where his relocation is, then to buy.

    I wish the youth of this generation could be forced to listen to advice from those of us who must make difficult decisions based on our past. To learn to be content with little, to give more. To find fullfillment in creating rather then consuming.

  20. tgill says

    I lost my grand child for years ago. I lost my first born child November 2010. Her had cancer and we spent everything we had to save hiss life. Last year my job cut my salary by $400 a week. My wife hasn’t worked since the deaths. I barely can afford my mortgage now. Had a business that folded. Have liens against med now. I’m struggling with the thought of bankruptcy. We don’t live above our means. Everything i have was based off of previous earnings. Struggling to put food on table. Just need some advice. I’m not depressed. Faith is yet strong. Never thought about bankruptcy before. But my wife and i have been through enough. I can’t lose my home.

    • says

      I’m so sorry about the situation with your grand child and your own child. Those must have been extremely painful experiences. I’m sorry.

      As far as your financial situation I think that you need to sit down with a Christian financial advisor who will help you evaluate the possibilities in your situation. There is no way for me to say what can and can’t be done. Rest assured, God’s peace and presence will go with you through this entire difficult journey.

  21. Diana says

    I stumbled upon this post at a time when I, too, am faced with the specter of bankruptcy. We accumulated mainly unsecured debt building and maintaining a large exotic animal farm. I worked two government jobs and had an excellent credit rating so it was easy to acquire unsecured debt. I don’t regret the farm as I believe it was glorifying to God in many ways. But I do regret the debt. We moved a couple of years ago and bought a convenience store with a takeout. We were able to stay on top of this huge debt load, paying off the minimum payments, as the income was quite good at the store. Then my husband decided to sell that store and start a new one. We have been open 3 months, but the income in one month is not as much as the income was in one day at the other store. I’ve been cashing in all of my retirement savings to try to keep on top of the debt. I’ve managed to get a bit of work over the Internet so that I can earn a little money and watch the store at the same time (not that there is much to watch!). The Lord has provided each month so that we are still in good standing with our creditors. But the writing is on the wall – I’m just about to the end of our retirement savings. We have had our former house on the market since the fall and also this new store building. We hope to sell both and move to this “handyman special” that we own a short distance away. We might be able to avoid bankruptcy if sales pick up (it is a tourist area, and the tourist seasons starts in May). And if especially the house sold, it would be a huge blessing. Anyway would appreciate your prayers! I think we could be spared bankruptcy if a few things fell into place.

  22. says

    I am curious to find out what blog platform you are using?
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