Until recently, filing bankruptcy has carried a stigma of failure and being dishonest. Many people have avoided filing for bankruptcy, even to their own demise, because of the stigma. No one really wants to file for bankruptcy, at least those of us that are honest, but sometimes circumstances make the process unavoidable. It’s interesting to see how this stigma questioning someone’s honesty and labeling them a failure even came about. While no one will really come out and say that they started this negative label, I suspect it was perpetrated by the credit industry. They know that once a person hires a bankruptcy lawyer, they probably will not get paid back anything. Initially, a debt collection company will call to make arrangements for payment and tried to befriend the individual in financial trouble. Most people don’t realize it, but they will feel guilty if they don’t pay their new friend. When a person hits the end of their rope and doesn’t have anything to give them the gloves come off and the character assassination begins. Debt collectors are paid based on what they collect so they don’t have a problem being the ones that try and destroy a person’s character with threats and berating them.
The interesting facts are the most common reasons for someone filing for bankruptcy are unemployment, a medical illness that causes loss of work with large medical bills, and family problems like divorce. So when a debt collector calls a person and accuses them of being dishonest for not paying their debts, it seems to me that all of these reasons are beyond their control and there is nothing wrong with filing bankruptcy. People need to understand the source of the information that is making them feel bad about themselves. A quick way to remove the guilt is to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer and they will be able to set the individual straight about their situation. For someone who needs to feel better about themselves all they need to do is look at the recent study they came to the conclusion that the average American family is only three weeks away from having to file bankruptcy. This conclusion was based on the amount of debt that the average American household has and compares it with their savings and income. In most households, debt is on the rise, a savings account is nonexistent and income is on the decline.
For those that still feel the guilt and shame of filing bankruptcy, all they need to do is open the Bible and use it for a moral compass. It is true that the Bible sets it straight that we are expected to pay are just debts. I don’t think anyone would argue this point, even those filing for bankruptcy. However, the Bible talks about the balance between the moral and legal obligation to pay those debts and to consider the need for compassion and the requirement that those debts must be canceled at periodic intervals. This comes from Deuteronomy 15 in the Old Testament of the Bible and is the basis for how Congress created the Bankruptcy Code. The cancellation of debts every seven years was spoken clearly in the Scripture. Deuteronomy 15:1-2 says ” At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor, his brother, because the Lords release has been proclaimed.”
So the next time a debt collector calls and starts berating the individual, they should break out their Bible and let the debt collector know the truth about filing bankruptcy and how it should be treated morally and legally.
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