Usury: Lending Money at Interest is a Sin

In a lecture on the Christian and finances not long ago, the lecturer informed the listeners, of whom this author was one, that a Christian is perfectly free to engage in usury. This statement was one I took serious issue with, but out of respect for the lecturer and collegiate forum in which this lecture was delivered, kept my reaction to myself. What follows then is my response to that statement and my biblical reasoning. My opinion is that usury is a grave sin, and I believe my opinion conforms to that of both Biblical theology and early Christian belief on the subject. One definition of usury is "the practice or action of making unethical or immoral monetary loans that unfairly enrich the lender." Now, many modern theologians have changed this definition to read "charging unreasonable interest on loans." However, as we shall see, this is not how the Church has historically understood the topic. Allow me first to define usury in simple terms. Usury is "the making of loans at interest." Period. No qualifying statements.

Interestingly, while rebellious and apostate theologians and pastors teach that usury is okay, Christ clearly taught otherwise

"And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to get back the same amount. ......lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great..."- Luke 6:34-35

If, as Christ clearly says, we should lend without any thought of receiving anything in return, this implicitly demands we not expect interest on a loan! So with just this statement alone Christ hasn't left the door open to us for practicing usury. Nor has the common consensus of the Church left that door open. 

How do we know this to be the case? We can examine the writings of various Church Fathers and clearly see this spelled out.

"Let it suffice to remark that the Law prohibits a brother from taking usury."
                                                                                                                         -Clement of Alexandria

"You have lent on usury, taking twenty four percent! Yet, now you wish to bestow charity that you may purge yourself....The Almighty absolutely rejects such works as these."
                                                                                                                                   - Commodianus
"We must not take usury!"-Cyprian

"If a Christian has lent any money, he will not receive interest-so that the benefit that relieved necessity may be unimpaired...For it is his duty in other respects not to be sparing of his property, in order that he may do good. But to receive more than he has given is unjust!"- Lactantius

I think it is pretty clear that the historic teaching of the Faith is that charging interest on loans, the practice of usury, is forbidden and considered a grave sin. This is because it places an undue burden on the needy and poor, it removes the good done in lending by adding profit and greed to the equation, and is not something Christ condoned whatsoever.


  1. Deuteronomy 23:19-20 Makes this clear as to what Jesus was talking about.

  2. People twist the words of Christ & use situation ethics to say usury is ok. The truth is, a Christian cannot benefit at all from taking interest on a loan. Since the economy as we know it would totally collapse without usury, many people want to make usury not a sin. Christians cannot work for banks, Christians cannot have a checking account (due to fractional reserve banking), Christians cannot have a 401(k) (since it's investing in stocks, which charge other interest), and Christians cannot have stocks, mutual funds, or index funds. Christians should not have credit cards, participate in home, car, or student loans. All of this is usury and is gravely evil. They call Christ a liar when they twist his words so they can participate in usury.

    1. It is certainly a far reaching issue. Sadly, it is one that goes ignored by Christians today, mainly because it is at the very core of the world economic system, as your post points out. Thanks for reading and commenting, James.

    2. I am guilty myself and I've begun moving my money. The easiest thing was to sell my stocks. The trickier part is how to live without a checking account or 401k, since those are so universal (direct deposit of paychecks and pensions no longer offered). I'm guessing prepaid debit cards and just save for retirement without tax benefits? The harder sacrifice will be for those who work for banks and finance who have to quit their jobs and change industries. People at least need to talk about it and start making changes without making excuses of why usury isn't usury.


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