Updated: Apr 6
Many detractors of capitalism will argue that gaining profits and/or interest is against the law of God. They will reference verses like Leviticus 25:35-37 which says that if your brother becomes destitute that you should loan him money and not charge interest.
However, if you look more closely at a similar verse, Deuteronomy 23:20, for example, it says," You may charge a foreigner interest, but not your brother, so that the Lord your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess."
A "foreigner" in this sense could mean anyone outside your immediate circle or family and not someone who lives in a faraway land who you would not likely do business with, anyway.
What is being conveyed is that there is a difference between business and charity.
In the New Testament, there is an account in both Luke 19 and Mathew 25 about the Parable of the Talents or Minas. The parable tells the story of a nobleman who was going on a journey. To three servants he gave various amounts of money to be invested so as to make a profit for the nobleman, in his absence.
Upon his return the nobleman called the three servants to him and asked them to account for the money he put them in charge of. The first two servants both invested wisely and doubled their money. The nobleman rewarded them accordingly. However, the third servant, fearing that he would lose the money by not investing wisely, buried the money and returned to the nobleman exactly what he was given.
The nobleman was angry that the third servant failed to make a profit and said to the servant, "Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest." -Matthew 25:27
He then proceeded to throw the servant out into the darkness.
There is obviously spiritual symbolism here. The nobleman in the story was symbolic of God and the servants were symbolic of those who would be followers of God. Their spiritual profits would be souls of new followers.
However, I submit that Jesus would not have used symbolism of something deemed evil and then proceed to tell the listener that this is what God is like. On the contrary, he was saying that on this earth and in a business setting, making a profit and earning interest is perfectly fine.
Capitalism is where individuals are able to make profits on their products or services. Profits are the whole point of capitalism.
Taking advantage of and/or profiting off of the destitute is wrong. Making a profit and earning interest on legitimate products or services is not. Business and charity are two separate things. Capitalism is not evil.
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