Is Interest Forbidden In Christianity

Christians are often taught by the church to avoid worldly vices such as gambling and debt — but is interest itself actually forbidden in Christianity? It is a question that is hotly debated today. The Bible does caution against specific forms of interest and loans, but many modern scholars argue that these passages only refer to interest received from those in need — not interest received from investors and lenders.

When it comes to the Bible and its prohibitions of interest, there are two main passages that are often cited: Deuteronomy 23:19-20, and Exodus 22:25. Deuteronomy 23:19-20 prohibits a “robber” from charging interest to his brother, while Exodus 22:25 prohibits charging interest on money lent to the poor. But even in these passages, the concept of “brother” is arguably understood to refer to those in need rather than to those who have money to lend.

In fact, other passages of the Bible also support the idea of interest. Proverbs 28:8, for example, states that “he who increases his wealth by interest and usury gathers it for him who is generous to the poor” — suggesting that the act of lending with interest is acceptable if the money goes to helping the less privileged. Similarly, Romans 13:8 encourages Christians to “owe no man any thing, but to love one another” — a principle that can be interpreted to include reasonable interest paid on loans.

In addition to the religious argument, there is also a practical one. Interest can be a powerful tool for encouraging people to save and invest, helping to make the economy more efficient. By removing the threat of excessive interest, lending practices can become more reasonable and predictable — and financial institutions can provide low-risk capital for businesses and individuals in need. There is no doubt that interest, used correctly, can have an important and positive impact on society.

Given the conflicting perspectives on interest, it is ultimately up to individuals to interpret and decide for themselves whether or not to participate in it. Some scholars interpret the Bible as allowing for interest in certain circumstances, while others interpret it as entirely forbidden. Ultimately, the decision to engage in interest or not should be made according to individual beliefs and informed by an understanding of current academic and religious perspectives.

Economic Effects

Interest is essential for a healthy and productive economy. By providing an incentive for potential lenders to part with their money, interest encourages the flow of capital through different sectors — creating jobs, opportunities and economic growth. Low interest rates, in particular, can also be beneficial to businesses, as it can lead to lower loan payments and less financial risk.

However, excessive interest can also be a major problem. Unscrupulous lenders are able to exploit those in need by charging extortionate interest rates, leaving borrowers in a state of financial hardship from which they cannot escape. It is therefore important that we have in place regulatory mechanisms to ensure that interest does not become exploitative.

Interest can also have a psychological effect. Those who take out loans are often encouraged to use the money for assets or investments that will appreciate in value over time — such as buying a house or starting a business — rather than for luxuries or non-essential items that depreciate in value. Interest can thus be a powerful tool for encouraging people to save, invest and build for the future.

Alternative Forms

As well as money lending, interest can also take other forms, such as royalties and license fees. In these cases, the funds are typically paid in exchange for access to a proprietary asset — such as a patent or copyrighted work. Here, too, interest can play an important role in the economy, providing compensation to those who own the assets and thus helping to stimulate innovation and creativity.

In some cases, it is even possible to use interest to incentivise certain behaviours. For example, providers of reward cards or loyalty programs often offer cashback or airline miles as an incentive for customers to purchase their products and services. By offering these kinds of rewards, companies are able to promote their products and encourage consumers to make purchases that they may otherwise have been unlikely to make.

Finally, there are also non-financial forms of interest such as gifts, awards and recognition. These can be extremely rewarding for both the giver and the recipient, helping to foster relationships, build trust and encourage behaviour that is beneficial to the community.


The issue of interest in Christianity is a complicated and hotly debated one. While some interpret the Bible as forbidding interest in all circumstances, others interpret it as allowing it in certain cases. Ultimately, it is up to individuals to decide whether to participate in it. Interest can be an important tool for stimulating economic activity, encouraging saving and investing, and fostering relationships — but it must be used responsibly and not to exploit those in need.

Societal Effects

Interest can also have a significant effect on society. With access to loans, people are able to pursue opportunities that they may not have had access to otherwise, such as buying a house or starting a business. This can have a positive effect on society overall, as individuals are able to unlock potential and generate new economic activity.

At the same time, excessive interest can have a negative effect. High interest-bearing loans can trap individuals in debt, leading to financial hardship, despair and even ruin. The Bible cautions against usury in these cases, and it is important that we seek to protect people from any form of exploitation.

Interest can also be used to incentivise certain behaviours. For instance, rewards cards encourage customers to make purchases that they may not have made otherwise, while loyalty programs can help to foster long-term relationships between businesses and their customers. Through these kinds of incentives, companies can encourage behaviours that are beneficial for the community and for their own bottom line.

Ethical Considerations

Regardless of one’s views on the subject, it is important to consider the ethical implications of interest. The Bible cautions against exploiting the poor and vulnerable, and there is no doubt that taking advantage of someone in need is morally wrong. On the other hand, it is also important to recognise the potential benefits of interest — such as stimulating economic growth, providing access to resources, and encouraging saving — and to ensure that these benefits are shared equitably.

It is also important to consider the role that interest plays in a free market. By providing incentive for potential lenders to part with their money, interest can be an important tool for promoting economic growth and stimulating investment. But it is essential that this is done responsibly, with appropriate regulation and oversight to ensure that interest does not become exploitative or unreasonable.

Finally, it is also important to consider the psychological impact of interest. Uses of interest that are seen as appropriate or responsible can foster trust and encourage good behaviour — whereas uses of interest that are deemed unacceptable can undermine relationships, cause confusion and even lead to resentment.

Legal Aspects

The legality of interest-bearing loans varies from country to country. In some places, such as the United Kingdom, interest is regulated so as to protect borrowers from unscrupulous lenders, whereas in other places, such as the United States, interest is largely unregulated. In addition, the specifics of interest-bearing loans — such as the maximum rate and the length of repayment — often differ depending on the type of loan, the borrower’s credit rating and the lender’s policies.

Importantly, ethical considerations are also relevant when it comes to interest. Laws often seek to ensure that lenders behave responsibly when dealing with people in need, forbidding them from taking advantage of vulnerable individuals. These laws are important for protecting people from exploitation and ensuring that everyone involved in the loan process enjoys a fair deal.

Ultimately, the decision to engage in interest or not is a personal one. It is important to be aware of the ethical, legal and economic implications of interest — both at an individual and societal level — and to make an informed decision based on this information. In this way, we can ensure that interest remains a useful tool for economic growth and prosperity — without causing disproportionate harm or risk.

Jennifer Johnson is an experienced author with a deep passion for exploring the spiritual traditions of different cultures and religions. She has been writing about religion and spirituality for the past ten years in both print and digital platforms, engaging readers in meaningful dialogue about the soul's journey through this life. With degrees in Comparative Religion and English Literature, she brings an insightful perspective to her work that bridges the gap between traditional knowledge and modern theories. A lifelong traveler, Jenn has lived in multiple countries exploring various paths to understanding faith, and her dedication to learning new things is palpable in every piece she creates.

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