In this week’s New York Times Magazine, Roger Lowenstein seems to encourage homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth to default on their loans and abandon their properties (Walk Away From Your Mortgage!). Mr. Lowenstein, a director at the Sequoia Fund, argues that mortgage default is a “calculated” decision of economic self-interest void of moral implications.
Jesus seems to hold Christians to a higher standard, where decisions (financial and otherwise) are based not primarily on self-serving desires, but on responsible stewardship of what has been given. In Christ’s “Parable of the Talents,” the master (arguably God) applauds the servant who invests his money wisely and returns to the master more than he was given. The master says, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, NIV).
Could the one who defaults on his mortgage be like this faithful servant? If she owes more than her house is worth, shouldn’t she walk away and find a better way to invest her money? Or is the one who relinquishes his financial responsibilities more like the “wicked and lazy” servant in the parable who is rebuked and rejected by the master for burying the money?