I was watching a documentary about the Fyre music festival debacle and subsequent fallout. Among all of the other massive moral failings, most notably fraud piled on top of fraud, with a large helping of arrogance and pride on the side, was a more subtle re-occurring theme: The promoters had no way out once they got the ball rolling due to the debt they had incurred.
Basically, they had a vision for a large music festival and they went about promoting it and organizing it. Somewhere along the line they realized they were unlikely to be able to deliver on what they were promising. Depending on who you believe, this was somewhere between 6 months and 2 months from the start of the event.
And of course the ethical thing to do at that point is to call off the event and refund all of the money for the tickets sold. The problem was the money was already at least partly spent. They had leased property and bought all sorts of materials, as well as had many laborers and subcontractors working for months to prepare for the event.
Thus if they had called off the event, someone who was owed money wasn’t going to be paid. Whether it be not refunding the tickets or not paying for the materials and salaries, or even some of both, they just didn’t have the money to meet all of their financial commitments. Someone was going to be shorted.
As a result, even when the organizers had grudgingly come to realize they couldn’t successfully hold the event, they couldn’t admit it to themselves. The only solution was to find a miracle that would save the event. If they could somehow pull it off, even if it was much less than promised, the ticket money wouldn’t have to be refunded and they could pay all of their people.
In other words, they were enslaved by their debts. They had no choice to walk away. They had to push forward, even though at some deep level they were marching towards their own demise.
I think we all need to be more aware of this… the way that debt enslaves. Whether it is a large mortgage, a car that is hard for us to afford, or our credit card bills, they force us into behavior we otherwise wouldn’t do. How many people keep working for an unethical company because they can afford to quit, because of the debts they owe? How many people make career choices they otherwise wouldn’t because of their debt, particularly their college debt?
We all must be much more careful about incurring debt. If we want the freedom to follow Christ, we must have the financial freedom to do so. Yes, we need to earn enough money to live and that can at times limit our financial freedom. But for someone truly committed to service, it is amazing how little one can live on. And at any point in our lives we can choose to live much more frugally if we feel called to some sort of service by God. But we are robbed of that freedom if we have debt.
Even if we can afford our debt service based on our current careers and income, we are prevented from changing away from those careers and income levels because there is debt to be paid that relies on that level of income. We become a slave to our current lifestyle.
If you don’t have debt, I ask you to seriously consider the above before incurring it. If you are already in that trap, the good news is it is merely an indentured servitude and I encourage you to make the changes needed in your financial lifestyle necessary so as to be able to pay off that debt as quickly as possible.
Because the simple fact remains, you are not truly free the way God wants you to be free as long as you are in debt.