Is Student Loan Forgiveness Biblical?

My social media feed today has been filled with opinions and arguments concerning the decision of the Biden administration to forgive student loans up to $10,000 for some, and up to $20,000 for others. One of the arguments I have seen in favor of this new policy is a complaint against Christians who oppose the policy. They say that this is something Jesus taught His disciples to pray for, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” and that the “Jubilee” is a clear command of Scripture.

Let me first say that our citizenship is in heaven, not here on the earth. The Christian should be more concerned with the kingdom of heaven and our Christ and less concerned with the kingdom of America. I would encourage every believer to contemplate how much time they are spending fighting for America to be great versus how much time they are spending furthering the kingdom of God and consider whether your priorities are straight. If you are actively lobbying on social media against political policies you do not like, while keeping silent on sharing the hope that you have within you, you should repent.


Having made that clear, we can and should examine all policies as to whether they are Biblical, and the question here is whether Christ intended in this prayer to pray for student loan debt forgiveness, and whether this fulfills the idea of Jubilee from Old Testament Israel. First, though, let us make sure we have a Biblical idea of forgiveness.

True forgiveness is never free.

We need to understand, that anytime there is forgiveness, whether monetarily or otherwise, the loss does not disappear, forgiveness is only a transfer of loss. When Jesus tells the parable of the wicked slave in Matthew 18:21-35, the master is going to take the loss when he forgives the wicked slave. The wicked slave, however, is unwilling to take the loss to forgive his fellow slave. While forgiveness may seem free to the one receiving it, to the one offering it, forgiveness is costly. Similarly, if we offend one another, when we forgive we agree to not require of the offender anything to “pay back” the offense, but that means we agree to “take the loss” of the offense instead. True forgiveness is never free.


In our case, we can see how nice it is for the debtor to receive debt forgiveness, but who is taking the loss? With federally backed student loans, the federal government is not the lender, rather they are the guarantor of those loans. In other words, the federal government is simply guaranteeing the lender that they will get their money, if not from the debtor, then from the federal government. The lender is not going to be taking the loss on this debt forgiveness, rather the federal government is going to take the loss in paying the lender the amount to reduce the debt.

There is no real debt forgiveness here, only a forced transfer of wealth.

When the federal government pays back these loans, then, they are not truly forgiving anything. After all, they are not owed anything. Instead, this is more of a welfare payment on behalf of the debtor to the lender. In other words, there is no forgiveness from the lender, there is only a payment made by the federal government. We can debate where this money is coming from, but this money is not created out of thin air. If it is collected from revenue from taxpayers, then those taxpayers are being forced to pay for debts they did not accumulate. If the money is printed, then all consumers are paying for this debt in the form of inflationary costs as goods and services increase due to the increased money supply. There is no real debt forgiveness here, only a forced transfer of wealth.


Knowing what is occurring, then, we find that those pushing this agenda have cleverly, but erroneously, named what is occurring here “forgiveness” in order to make it sound consistent with something moral, when in actuality it is nothing like forgiveness. Therefore, there is nothing in this program that would correlate in truth to what Jesus intended by forgiving our debtors. In fact, God said in Psalm 37:21, “The wicked borrows and does not pay back, But the righteous is gracious and gives.” Jesus would call one wicked who does not pay back what they owe. And before someone claims that this is being gracious and is giving, remember this is forced upon the public. Those who claim to be gracious are not giving with their own money.

Those who claim to be gracious are not giving with their own money.

But what about Jubilee? Jubilee is not that hard to understand if you just take some time to think about it. It is found in Leviticus 25, and it was to be practiced every fiftieth year. In that year, simply put, each individual who accumulated another’s land was required to restore it back to them. The purpose was so that each tribe would be able to maintain their possession of land given by God, as well as a kind of reset for families who perhaps fell into hard times that it would not affect all future generations. I would not be opposed to practicing jubilee in a nation, but you cannot simply institute jubilee on a whim into an economy that has never had such a thing.


Pretend you are a successful family in Israel. A family comes to you who is down on their luck and wants to sell their land to you. You know the law of jubilee, and you know how many years are left before the next one. Your offer for their land, in a sense, is not to own the land, but rather to lease the land until the year of jubilee. If there are 49 years left until the next one, or one year left, you will make a very different offer. Jubilee, in that sense, was baked into the economy, it was not irrationally implemented at the whim of a politician to garner votes.

God is not in heaven wondering what America is doing, rather God is in heaven doing His will...

So no, the arguments for what is being called “student loan forgiveness” are not Biblical, and in fact, there is a strong case  to be made that it is simply a mandated transfer of wealth by the government that is more akin with breaking the eighth commandment than it is with anything morally mandated by God. But I want to encourage Christians in this, while we watch the government do things that we believe are crazy, and ultimately immoral, let us bear in mind that God is sovereign over it all. In fact, we must bear in mind that God in His sovereignty placed President Joe Biden in office, Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, and on and on it goes. God’s purposes are not our purposes. God is not in heaven wondering what America is doing, rather God is in heaven doing His will and laughing at what the politicians think they are doing, because God in heaven is in charge and on His throne.


Christian, no need to panic, no need to be outraged, no need to fear, God is working out His perfect plan in His perfect way. We are called to rest in His plan and trust Him, not complain. Let me encourage you to thankfulness rather than complaint. I think sometimes about the persecuted church around the world and wonder how they must view those of us in the US who complain about inflation and higher taxes over something as trivial as this. We have so much to be grateful for, let us rejoice and be glad in Jesus.