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Old 20th May 2009, 04:53 PM
sammy sammy is offline
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Default usury

Ron, the OT refers to charging interest as evil (Ezekiel 18:13 lends at interest and exacts usury- this son certainly shall not live.) Is this old law that is no longer in effect or should this still be observed?
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Old 20th May 2009, 05:44 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Usury is not merely charging interest. In the OT, the Jews were prohibited from charging any interest in loans to their fellow Jews, but were specifically permitted to charge interest in loans to non-Jews.

1. Usury as excessive interest on a loan is not defined by any particular number (a percentage or other way of calculating interest). In the case of the loaning of money, it is a matter of intention and circumstances, so this type of usury is not intrinsically evil; it is a matter of degree. A just interest rate can be charged. For loans to the poor, no interest should be charged, as a duty of charity. (Example: Kiva.org which gives interest free loans to the working poor). An excessive interest rate is immoral.

2. But there is another type of usury, and this type is intrinsically evil. Example: a man purchases a measure of wheat to feed his family. He pays a price for the wheat, but he is also required, at a later time, to return the same amount of wheat. This is misrepresented by the seller as if the wheat were merely being borrowed and as if the money were interest. In fact, the wheat is being sold for its price, and the requirement to also return the same amount of wheat constitutes usury as a type of theft.

In this practice, money is not loaned, but rather goods are purchased; the purchase is misrepresented as a loan and the purchase price is misrepresented as interest. The evil is found in both charging money for the purchased goods and requiring their repayment in kind (same amount of wheat or other goods).

This type of usury is intrinsically evil because, to the just price of the goods is added the condition to also return the same goods. Since the goods have been paid for, the ownership of the goods passes to the buyer. The requirement to return the same goods constitutes a type of theft.
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