One of the most divisive issues in the nation at the moment is the topic of student loan forgiveness. From what I have been able to gather from social media, a high percentage of the discontented rantings about the potential that millions of Americans could have significant parts of their student loan debts forgiven is coming from the Christian Right and MAGA Republicans. This, of course, comes as no surprise, but when looked at through the lens of reason, there are several things that should make that fact very surprising. There are many examples in the Bible that would suggest that Christians should actually be happy at the prospect of so many of their brothers and sisters having student loans forgiven.
First of all, let me address a more secular example of a double standard at play here. Do you remember when it was revealed that Donald Trump had been paying a shockingly low amount in taxes? Do you remember what he said and what his supporters parroted? He said that it just showed how smart he was. He said it would be dumb to not find ways around paying taxes. In reality, what Trump was doing was taking money out of other taxpayers’ pockets. By reducing his tax burden, he was increasing others’. That’s just simple math. Yet, Trump’s fundamentalist Christian supporters just laughed at the outrage much of the country showed when his tax information was revealed. There seems to be a lot of looking the other way in the MAGA crowd when it comes to their Dear Leader.
The Bible is full of examples that might indicate that Christians really should be rejoicing with those, like me, who suddenly see light at the end of their never-ending tunnel of student debt. I’m in my 22nd year of teaching. I still have over $15,000 in student loan debt, even after all that time. All I’ve been paying for years is interest. Under Biden’s proposal, I could stand to have $10,000 of that debt erased. That’s great news for me, but right-wing Christians all over this country are looking at people like me as if we were the worst kind of thieves. They scream about how they have paid their own debts and don’t get a bail out…”I got mine, let them get theirs!” Remember Jesus’ parable about the Prodigal Son? Remember how that son had asked for his inheritance early and then went right out and blew it all in an epic debauchery-filled bender? Remember how, when he came back, covered in filth, guilt, and shame, his father threw a lavish banquet to welcome him home? Remember how the Prodigal Son’s brother was jealous of his wayward sibling and felt like the whole thing was completely unfair and refused to accept it? That’s a very common sermon topic and many a preacher admonishes the congregation not to be like the jealous brother. The point of Jesus’ parable here seems to be lost on a lot of Christians when it comes to student loans.
How about the thief on the cross? How unfair is it that he lived his life full of sin and then, literally in the last moments of his life, Jesus just forgave it all and told the dude he’d be going to Heaven with him?
How about one of the cornerstone tenets of Christian theology; that there is nothing anyone could do to be good enough to earn their way into to Heaven? Even the most politically conservative Christian is likely to agree that the Bible teaches that only way into Heaven is to have one’s sins (debts) forgiven through grace alone. That theme runs through seemingly half the hymns sung in churches for centuries.
I really don’t see how all of this seems to be missed by so many Christians. Well, that’s a lie, I do see how. It’s the fact that they put political ideology front and foremost in their world views, so much so that other people can no longer see their faith behind it.
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