Two New eBooks at Amazon Kindle!

FacebookMySpaceTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponRSS Feed

If you’ve lived very long as an adult, you’ve probably incurred some personal debt, but how much debt, and is it good or bad debt? 

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #43 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

Debt is now commonplace in contemporary postmodern culture. Nearly everyone is in some way engaged in some form of debt.

There was a time, though, before the 1960s, when debt, especially living beyond ones means, was considered morally questionable or at least unwise. Politicians worked to balance budgets. Individuals and families labored to avoid bad debt and get out of debt. 

Now, it seems, American culture not only tolerates but embraces debt. We think we are entitled to live the good life, i.e., what we can’t afford as presented to us by online influencers, the beautiful people, and celebrities. We want to be like them. We want affluence and the materialistic stuff that goes with it. So, charge it.

Personal credit cards are maxed out. In 2022, there are 537 million credit card accounts in the US, up 6% or 32 million, since 2021. Just before the pandemic in 2020, total credit card debt reached $893 billion, but it climbed to $71 billion in 2021. Meanwhile, average credit card interest rates are a usurious 16.59%.

Eighty percent of Americans have consumer debt, amounting to $14.6 trillion in personal debt. In 2021, the average American has $90,460 in debt according to CNBC.

Conservative financial guru David Ramsey is very opposed to the idea of owing money to a lender in any shape or form. Not only does he think consumers should ditch credit cards and pay for purchases in cash, he believes it's ideal to purchase a car outright rather than secure an auto loan. Ramsey recently tweeted that the only good debt is debt that is PAID OFF. 

Ramsey is strict when it comes to debt. He’s not necessarily wrong, just difficult for some to reach this level, but if they can, more power to them. I know at least three families who say Ramsey’s counsel helped them early in their marriages and is responsible for their financial stability now.

Most financial advisors, though, consider mortgages good debt because they feature reasonable interest rates, and because they mean one owns an asset, equity. Auto loans might be considered good debt. While cars don't tend to appreciate, they do make it possible for people to drive to work and earn a living.

That’s a look at the micro level – personal debt. Now let’s look at the macro level – national debt.

As of January 2022, the US National Debt stands at $30 trillion plus for the first time ever. If you want to scare yourself, go to and look at the US National Debt Clock. The digital display moves faster than you can count the dollars aloud. On the same page, the US Gross Domestic Product logs at $24,813T plus and climbing rapidly. The US total debt is over $92,229T, and it too was increasing before my eyes faster than I could count or comprehend.  

“Debt held by the public as a share of GDP peaked just after World War II (113% of GDP in 1945) but then fell over the following 35 years. In recent decades, aging demographics and rising healthcare costs have led to concern about the long-term sustainability of the federal government's fiscal policies… 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government spent trillions in virus aid and economic relief…At the end of 2020, debt held by the public was approximately 99.3% of GDP, and approximately 37% of this public debt was owned by foreigners.” It’s called external debt. The United States has the largest external debt in the world.

Neither Democrats or Republicans can claim to be great budget managers who keep the national debt at some manageable level.

  • $10.6 trillion when Barack Obama took over on January 20, 2009.
  • $19.9 trillion when Trump took over on January 20, 2017.
  • $ 27.8 trillion when Biden took over on January 20, 2021.

As a culture, the American people have become profligate. That’s p-r-o-f-l-i-g-a-t-e. Profligate. It means “given to or characterized by licentiousness or dissipation, morally wrong,” or “given to or characterized by reckless waste; wildly extravagant” or “spending money or using something in a way that wastes it and is not wise.”

Postmodern Americans seem to want their cake and eat it too. They want, regardless of the cost to themselves, their nation’s wellbeing, or their progeny.

But what we do with money, individually and as a society, is a profound moral issue. Jesus made it clear that whatever our station, since God owns everything, we are merely stewards. Thus, we are accountable to God for how we manage our assets.

Scripture never says debt is a sinbut it does strongly state that debt is dangerous: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. (Prov. 22:7).

Remember that 37% of US debt that is currently held by foreign interests? It’s not a comforting thought.

In a sermon entitled, “The Use of Money,” delivered in 1789, great early American preacher John Wesley said, “Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.” It’s difficult to do this if we go into irresponsible levels of debt.

Scripture also states that one is responsible for one’s debts: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another” (Rom. 13:8). “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously” (Ps 37:21).

Scripture indicates we are each blessed by God with time, talent, and treasure, and we are accountable to him for the stewardship of our livelihood that makes it possible for us to care for our families. The Bible is, after all, the source of the famed Protestant Work Ethic that helped propel the development of Western Civilization.

Recently, President Biden announced an extensive student loan “forgiveness” program. The idea is that somehow letting selected students out of their financial obligations would be a good thing for them. 

But unless you are the one who extended the funds and hold the I.O.U., forgiving debt does not make it go away. In the case of the student loan “forgiveness,” it simply transfers the debt to the American taxpayer, including those who scrimped and sacrificed to pay off their own loans. The student loan “forgiveness,” therefore, can only be seen for what it is, a ploy to buy votes, a grossly inequitable governmental action, and a disincentive to pay off loans for those who go into debt in the future.

Student loans are generally among the lowest interest rates. When I was in graduate school in 1978-1982, we took out two loans because I wanted to march right through the program and get the degrees, rather than stop out for a time to save for the next semester. This worked for us, but for the next ten years we paid $68 per month to take care of our obligations. Because student loan rates are typically lower, than for example financing a car, whenever we had funds to add to our payments, we put this into the car, not the student loan. Consequently, to pay it off took the full ten years. I remember when my wife and I celebrated the final payment.

When we load up on debt, personally or nationally, we mortgage our children’s and our grandchildren’s futures. This is immoral.

Knowingly incurring debt beyond our means, personal or national, is a matter of want more than need. It allows our desires to rule our hearts and our actions, and somehow, we convince ourselves we will never have to pay the piper.

But the believer who lives “Christianly” remembers scripture: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Heb 13:5).


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022   

*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at