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Stewardship, Victimhood and the SubPrime Mortgage Crisis — #1

We’re on the back end of a 15 year re-fi mortgage and, with the housing market tumbling bigtime out here in SoCal, Lisa and I figured we’d leverage our assets, rent our home, and buy another. At the moment, one-time half-million dollar houses are in the low 300’s and, with foreclosures everywhere, there’s been way more than enough to choose from.

We’ve always tried to take seriously the Bible’s teaching on stewardship (Luke 12:41-48), simplicity, thrift, giving, and financial wisdom. As a result, we’ve chosen to live within our means, forgo fancy cars, drive the ones we have into the ground, cut coupons, and settle in the not-so-nicest of neighborhoods. More than once, we’ve had friends ask us when we were gonna move. But moving in an inflated market JUST TO MOVE, didn’t seem smart. So we waited. Now, it seems to have paid off. Nevertheless, it’s surprising to us how many Christians disregard what God says about money and material possessions.

I wonder how many professing Christians have contributed to the current mortgage crisis. My guess? Way too many.

Early in our Christian walks, we discovered just how out-of-whack believers can get with their dough and how sensitive the issue is. Our best friends at the time had filed for bankruptcy and apparently not learned their lessons. They continued to accumulate massive debt even with their credit dinged. Impulse buying, greed and just plain stupidness were all part of the equation. Lisa and I prayed for them, worried about them, and finally confronted them. We weren’t mean or nit-picky. . . just honest.

It destroyed the relationship.

So when we met with a loan officer to discuss taking out a Home Equity Line of Credit, she ran a credit check and came back shaking her head. We had an 812 (his) and 809 (hers) credit score. The agent said she’s never seen a couple who were both in the 8’s — it’s an anomaly in the current market. Does this sound like I’m bragging? Okay, maybe I am. But it’s kinda vindication for all those years of not following “conventional wisdom” and overstepping our bounds just to keep up with the Joneses.

Then this: The government is proposing a Mortgage Relief Plan to bail out greedy banks, cheap builders, and reckless and naïve buyers who were suckered into over-priced homes. Got in over your head? Didn’t think through the interest only mortgage? No problem, bub. The Gubment’s comin’ to the rescue!

And I can’t help but feel as if people like us — people who’ve pinched pennies, used restraint and common sense — aren’t the ones getting the shaft.

more. . .

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Mike Duran April 4, 2008, 1:38 PM

    And yes, Lisa, my credit score IS BETTER THAN YOURS!

  • Mark H. April 4, 2008, 4:59 PM

    Mike,

    I think this is the biggest problem facing our country today. By and large, people have bought into the mindset that says “I want everything now.” It’s the reason so many people have bought homes that were outside their means, why they face skyrocketing credit card debt, etc. No one thinks with a long-term focus anymore. This has extended to our government, which also faces monumental debt that sooner or later (it may have already begun) will hamstring this country.

    I think the focus on short-term (or immediate) rewards has damaged our country in many ways. Besides the financial problems, I think you’d see less divorce if people considered what it’d be like to be married to their spouse over decades. I think you’d see more people staying at one job for longer periods. More parents spending greater amounts of time at home with their kids than at work. The list can go on endlessly. The reality is that we have become a selfish, immature nation. And when something goes wrong, instead of accepting the consequences (like an adult), we expect the government to bail us out of our problems. Heaven forbid we actually attempt to change our lifestyles!

  • Mike Duran April 5, 2008, 1:09 PM

    Mark, great analysis. The housing crisis is a reflection of a much deeper spiritual issue that pervades our country. It is said that Jonathan Edwards used to pray, “God, burn eternity into my eyeballs.” Sadly, most Americans could care less about eternity — our eyes are “burned” only with the here-and-now.

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