But the way we treat people is much more important than worldly possessions. If we get our possessions by immoral avenues, that’s a real problem.
Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Time for another post.
I run Christian blog, not a life blog. I don’t talk about the trivial updates of my day-to-day. But I have mentioned some details here and there. And today my topic was inspired by something recent from my everyday life.
Only a few days before writing this (so about a month before it goes live) I visited a pawnshop for the first time ever. After I bought what I was looking for and left, I started thinking about the morality of the pawnshop. I wondered about the morality of the pawn industry from a Christian perspective. Is this the kind of place a Christian should shop at??
Many Christians will have different opinions on this, there may not be a right answer here. But let me tell you my thoughts on the pawnshop.
What a Pawnshop Is
First I guess I should explain what a pawnshop is. I know I have a very international audience, so I could have Readers who live in countries with no pawnshops. Here’s a Wikipedia article about it. The business is actually called the pawnbroker. They give you a small short-term loan secured by a valuable item like jewelry, tools, and so on. If you repay the loan plus interest, you can have your valuable item back. If you can’t repay the loan or miss payments on it, the item goes up on the shelf where people can buy it.
Great Bargain or Ill-Gotten Gain??
Alright, let’s get on to my story.
I went to the pawnshop last weekend to buy a guitar. I had seen online this pawnshop selling a guitar I was interested in for an excellent price. So I wanted to go grab that deal.
At this point all I was thinking about was the great deal I could get. There were no questions of morality in my mind yet.
When I stopped by, the guitar was still there. The staff let me test it to make sure it worked, and I got in line to buy it. And this is where questions of morality first came to mind.
First, there was a friendly man in the store who talked with me about guitars. He was also a guitar fan, like me. But unlike me he came to pawn his instrument. He had a nice acoustic guitar, along with its case. He handed it over and got some cash for it, but it didn’t seem like a lot. Of course I didn’t count the cash, but it didn’t seem like a lot. This guy was in a good mood so maybe he didn’t care; he could have been pawning a spare guitar or something like that. But it didn’t sit right with me to see a fellow music lover handing over an instrument for a small amount of cash. Despite his cheerful attitude, I imagine he wouldn’t pawn a guitar if he had another choice. I felt bad for him, and prayed that if he needed the money for a problem, that the LORD would resolve the man’s problems.
Next, when I made it to the register to buy my guitar, another man to my right was trying making a payment on a loan. I don’t know if it was a regular loan, or if it was a pawn loan and he wanted to get some item of his back. I’m not 100% sure what was going on with him because I had one ear on his conversation while also talking to my cashier about buying the guitar. And all this was happening in my second language. So my brain couldn’t focus all the way on what was happening to my right. But I do know the man was upset, and looked sad.
He had handed over some money, but (if I heard right) the cashier told him he still had more to pay because of interest. If he thought he was done with the pawnshop after this payment, he was disappointed to learn he still had more to pay. If he was indeed trying to get something of his back, he wasn’t going to get it that day. That’s when I noticed a sign behind the cashier that said in Spanish: “Dear customers, our loans will not be more than 20% interest for a term of 30 days.” Or something like that.
20% interest!?!? That’s completely outrageous!! I couldn’t believe it. That’s a predatory loan right there, and the victims being preyed on are the poor. People desperate for money, with no other options. So they hand over what little they do have, pawning their meager possessions to get by for another month. To keep a roof over their head or food on the table, basic survival concerns.
The disappointment of this other man bothered me, I continued thinking about it the rest of the day. What bothered me most of course was the 20% interest on a pawn loan. I thought about the guitar I bought. It’s not very valuable; brand-new it would cost $200 U.S. dollars. It could be that the person who brought it in didn’t want it anymore and was happy to get rid of it.
But what if the person who brought it in really did want it, and only pawned it out of desperation?? Were they making payments to get it back?? How far did they get, and how far did the exorbitant interest set them back from reclaiming their beloved guitar?? Is it even moral for me to take this guitar when these concerns are a possibility??
Do We Help Prey on the Desperate??
If you want your item back from a pawnshop you have to pay their exorbitant interest. It’s immoral to take such an exorbitant profit from the poorest of the poor, anyone in enough difficulty to need a pawn loan to get by. It’s wrong to prey upon people’s desperation and take the few valuable things they have at outrageous interest for a meager cash loan in return.
And so, I say it’s immoral to support this industry with our money. I don’t know how much they profited off the guitar I bought. But I realize now I shouldn’t have given even one dollar to a business designed to prey on the vulnerable. As a Christian, we must help and protect the vulnerable members of society, not support their exploitation.
Other Christians may not share my point of view. Other Christians may not see anything morally wrong with the pawnshop. They might see it only as getting a great bargain on something you want.
But the way we treat people is much more important than worldly possessions. If we get our possessions by immoral avenues, that’s a real problem. And I would challenge the Christians who disagree with me to explain how an outrageous 20% interest rate on loans aimed toward the poor is moral or Biblical.
Christians who don’t see it my way may also point out that pawnshops are legal in the countries where you can find them. But from a Christian perspective this doesn’t mean anything, because legality does not define morality. Adultery is legal in most countries, but Christians know to avoid it because it’s immoral. Legality does not define morality. Many immoral things are 100% legal in this world. That’s why we follow Jesus rather than the world.
Anyway, not all Christians will agree with me on the moral issues of the pawn industry, so this would be a matter of debate. It should only be a matter of debate though, not something to argue about. I’ve made it clear that my opinion is we should not give our money to such an industry.
Damn My Filthy Greed!!
As for me, this guitar is definitely the last thing I’ll ever buy from a pawnshop. I didn’t know anything about the pawnshop before making this trip, but now that I know I will never to go there again. But as long as this guitar—which I didn’t even need but only wanted—continues to sit to the right of my desk, my stance does not mean much at all. If I wanted to put my money where my mouth is, if I really wanted to live my principles instead of only talking about them, I would return the guitar. Isn’t that right??
Damn my filthy greed!!
I could pray on this issue. But Scripture already makes the answer clear: To know the right thing to do and not do it is a sin (James 4:17). I could REPENT!! and ask for Forgiveness and Grace, or maybe I will end up returning it. I have six months to do that. If I only feel guilt about it, that will ruin all the fun of playing this instrument. If my guilt doesn’t go away, I know the Holy Spirit is telling me to do what I already know from Scripture.
(17) It is a sin when someone knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it.James 4:17 (CEB)
Well that’s all for today. If you enjoyed today’s post, be sure to Subscribe using the link below. And please consider Supporting My Blog using the Tip Jar. Any amount is much appreciated!
Until next time, be strong and do good!
Your new best friend in Christ,
<<<EXALT THE LORD OUR GOD AND WORSHIP AT HIS HOLY HILL; FOR THE LORD OUR GOD IS HOLY>>>
Follow My Blog
Subscribe to my FREE Substack newsletter so you never miss any of my posts!
Support My Blog
The Tip Jar
If you enjoyed this article, or any of the content on my site, please consider tossing a dollar in ‘the tip jar’ by donating here. All donations of any amount are greatly appreciated! If all you have to give are thoughts and prayers, I will gladly accept those too! I receive those, don’t worry 🙂