Christians and the Debt Limit Charade
Religion & Liberty Online

Christians and the Debt Limit Charade

Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past few months you’ve surely heard of the debt limit crisis. But if you’re still unclear on what it’s all about, this video provides a brief, helpful explanation.

The key point in the video is that the debt limit is about paying bills already incurred. Congress agreed to allow the government to spend in excesses of revenues but is now refusing to pay what is due. As Albert Mohler notes,

Federal law requires Congress to establish a limit to national borrowing, but the U. S. Constitution requires the government to pay its debts. The debt limit requirement is merely a matter of law. The pledge to pay the nation’s debt is a mandate of the Constitution. The debt ceiling is now a political abstraction, used by both parties to create a pseudo-event.

A pseudo-event is a term coined by Daniel Boorstin to describe an event that is created solely to be reported on. Most of the events in politics nowadays are pseudo-events, but few are as cynical and as destructive as the debt ceiling charade. The Republicans in Congress seem to think the American public is either too stupid to realize what is going on or too partisan to care. But Christians and conservatives should set them straight. As Mohler adds,

Conservatives should point out that the Constitution demands the nation pay its debts, and that Congress and the President must take responsibility for the spending — and the massive borrowing — their actions mandate. Conservatives should point to the real crisis, stand on principle, and refuse to distract themselves and the American people with false crises and pseudo-events.

There are few modern political issues in which it is absolutely clear what Biblical principles apply. But I think the debt ceiling charade is one of them. In Romans 13 the Apostle Paul says,

For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed . . .

If we as citizens are to pay taxes to whom taxes are owed, and revenue to whom revenue is owed, shouldn’t the authorities set up as “ministers of God” be expected to do the same?

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).