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Why is it acceptable for a couple to incur debt for a house if it isn’t acceptable for a church to incur debt for a building?

God hates divorce, but he doesn’t necessarily hate a pastor leaving one church for another. When that happens, the debt of a particular church is often unable to be repaid. It is the very nature of the marital relationship that allows for a couple to finance a home; and the very nature of a church—with its financial vagaries, possibility of fracturing at any moment, and difficulty in reselling the property (not to mention questions of ownership and responsibility)—makes it far less of a prudent move.

I know that there are a number of Christian leaders who embrace the idea that neither a church nor a couple should ever go into debt, but they often do so for unsound reasons. Sometimes they blow one verse out of proportion to the rest of scripture, making ‘debt-free’ living the highest good of the Christian life. Then, they get into ridiculous nit-picky ‘principles,’ such as setting aside money before one makes a long distance phone call and calling up the phone company to make sure one knows what the charges amount to. I personally find such a posture to be unbiblical in its very focus, as well as the time given to the topic. I would add further that financing a home has a long tradition of being an investment rather than a debt per se.

To be sure, I do see problems with a church going into debt. But each case needs to be decided on its own. Some churches are quite stable and can reasonably do it. In the least, I do not wish to foist my own understanding on others as though such were ex cathedra casuistry! Wisdom is required at all points in the Christian life.

Related Topics: Ecclesiology (The Church), Finance