Is A Mortgage A Salvation Issue?

Katie and her husband are considering purchasing their first home. However, now they don't know if they should take out a mortgage because of biblical principles. Dave gives Katie his take on it.

QUESTION: Katie in Los Angeles and her husband are considering purchasing their first home. However, now they don’t know if they should take out a mortgage because of biblical principles. Dave gives Katie his take on it.

ANSWER: I have heard people teach Romans 13:8 as a financial Scripture. I’ve studied the Bible on financial things for two decades. I’m not sure it’s a financial Scripture. If you read it in the context of Romans—of the book and certainly in the context of Romans 12, 13, and 14—I think you’re going to get the feeling this has more to do with grace than it does borrowing money. I’m not positive. It could be dealing with money, and there are people who make a convincing argument that it is.

However, pulling that particular Scripture aside, there is a Bible full of other Scriptures that are dealing with debt—actual borrowing of money. None of them are positive. You’re a slave, you’re a fool, it’s a curse. These are the things associated with debt as you read the Bible. There’s nowhere in Scripture that God uses debt to bless His people.

I’m 100% sure that debt is not a salvation issue. You’re not going to lose your salvation if you get a MasterCard. That’s not what we’re talking about. I’m 100% sure that God’s love for you is not diminished because you borrowed money. Debt-free people aren’t more loved by God than ones who are in debt. That’s not how it works. But we can pretty much tell from Scripture without a doubt that biblically speaking, debt is stupid.

Based on the borrower is slave to the lender, for instance, Proverbs 22:7, and based on the fact that I’ve lived 20 years without any debt since I went broke and discovered that Scripture and several others like it (not necessarily the Romans 13 scripture), I decided I wouldn’t borrow money anymore. I am a slave if I borrow money. Jesus said it’s very difficult to serve two masters. You’ll love one and hate the other. Based on all of that, I just said I don’t borrow money anymore. I did that as a matter of faith. I’m not going to say you’re a bad Christian or something like that if you borrow money. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying the Bible’s pretty clear from a loving Father giving a love letter to His children, you shouldn’t do this because it hurts. That’s the spirit of it as best I can determine.

What about a mortgage? What I tell people is never borrow money, period. But if you’re going to buy a home and take out a mortgage, I’m not going to yell at you about that one. The rest of them? I’m just going to call you stupid.

The one thing I lighten up on—and I can’t tell you it’s biblical, but I just quit yelling about it with mortgages—is a 15-year fixed rate mortgage where the payment is no more than 25% of your take-home pay. That’s pretty limiting. That’s about half of what you can qualify for. You could buy twice as much house if you took it out on a 30-year ARM and took it to maximum percentage of your income that they’ll qualify you for. I’m being super conservative. I can’t tell you that’s “biblically best.” This is not a salvation issue and it’s not a God’s love issue.

I’m okay with it, but be very conservative. I’m okay with you renting for a little while and just saving up. Be very deliberate and look at your income versus your lifestyle and how you’re going to get there. I don’t want you to go 20 years into this without a plan. But if you do this right, it could be a very cool way for you guys to start your life.