Two Things I Do That Are Right For Me

Here was the writing prompt:

what’s right for some, is not right for all. I’d love to hear your thoughtful analysis of

2 things you do in your life because of your relationship with jesus that you think is right for all


2 things you do in your life because of your relationship with Jesus that is right for you, but not right for all.

I’m starting with the second question because it’s easier to address, I hope I understood the prompt right. These are two things that I do in life that are Right for me, but not necessarily right for all. This is not an attempt to make anyone feel guilt for not choosing the same for themselves.

1) I don’t drink alcohol at all. Besides a sip or two from my parents glass before I entered high school (and maybe at a communion were they tricked me with real wine), I’ve never consumed alcohol. There are a couple reason I can recall for this, none of them really being all that noble. I went to an Fellowship of Christian Atheletes soccer camp the summer before my freshman year of high school and I signed a pledge that I would be alcohol and drug free. That pledge, and the fact that I wasn’t cool enough for anyone to want to pressure me into drinking, kept me from ever even really having the temptation to drink before I turned 21.  The reasons I’ve continued not to drink are multiple, and again, none is some ‘holier-than-thou’ vow of soberness. I’ve never really had any desire to drink alcohol (nor coffee for that matter). Not ever having had alcohol, I don’t know how susceptible I would be to over-indulging or alcoholism, and I don’t want to find out. I already have enough vices, I’d hate to add one. Alcohol is expensive and is not a need (which means I’d have to use my fun money, and I don’t want to). Finally, people I know and care about have been hurt because of the misuse of alcohol, and so it is a small sacrifice on my part to simply avoid it all together. Maybe when I’m 50 I’ll try a glass of wine, but for now, this is right for me.

2) We own a house (actually the bank owns it). In a number of ways I’m an advocate of not being in debt, I think there is a Biblical precedent for it, I believe it’s a viable option for many people in the USA (instead we choose credit driven consumption), and I think it will makes us happier freer people. However, my wife and I chose to buy a house last year and with the mortgage and our student loans will be in debt for about ten years. I don’t think buying a house is for everyone. Even if you can buy a house with cash it will tie you down and will continue to require your time and energy. I don’t think going into debt for a house or school is for everyone. Many people can and will work their way through school, and have no chains to Aunt Sallie when they graduate. However, I believe it was the best financial stewardship decision for my wife and I to buy a house last November, and though there were things I did not expect, I’m still satisfied with our decision. Going into debt to ‘own’ a house is not for everyone, but I believe it was right for us.

I think I’ll get around to the other question eventually, about what is “is right for all”, but I’ll leave this part open for discussion first.

(photo credit)

9 thoughts on “Two Things I Do That Are Right For Me”

  1. Agreed on the adult beverage question. I have not seen anything in the Bible that prohibits drinking per se. We are told not to be drunk with wine, to be self-controlled, etc., but not to avoid wine. Of course, Jesus made wine for a party. Some say it was just grape juice, but I seriously doubt they were all excited about the equivalent of Welches. I think it is error when some get excercised about avoiding it as evil. I grew up in a town where drinking was considered to be just about the worst thing you could do. That was not the only example of false piety and legalism, but it was emblematic. However, choosing not to drink is a great choice, so long as it is not because you think to choose otherwise is sinful.

    As for owning a house, that really is an easy choice. We are to be good stewards of all that we have. Renting for the long term means kissing all that money goodbye forever, whereas owning means building and gaining equity that you can then use and spend as you please. Renting means building and giving equity to your landlord, who may be using it to do something you don’t like and have no control over.

    BTW, you do own the house, not the bank. You have just given the bank a lien or claim so that they can foreclose in case you refuse to repay the money they loaned you.

    Student loans are harder. I think that part of the reason that college is so expensive is that money is so easy to borrow. In other words, if it was harder to borrow, or not so easy to borrow so much, then the schools would not be able to charge so much. Total scam, funded by our government, with taxpayer money.

  2. Aaron,

    I really like your thoughts on student loans, I’d never thought about it like that. That’s a good point. At the same time, I sort of wish money was easier to borrow for school for some, I’ve worked with a lot of kids who haven’t been able to get the financial aid to go to college and it was simply out of reach, not because they didn’t want to go, but because they couldn’t afford it.

    As to the house, I’m still skeptical about it being the best ‘stewardship’ decision. I mean right now anyone who owns a house is sort of stuck, even if they want to move or make a change. I agree you might possibly be able to make a by-the-numbers argument that on a purely financial level it is better stewardship to own then rent, but there is a lot more then financial involved. I own, but I’m still skeptical.

  3. I don’t mean it should be harder for ppl to borrow for education. I just mean that it is pretty clear that schools would not be able to raise tuition so easily if the gov’t did not raise lending limits so easily. For my school, tuition went up $1000 each year I was there, and so did the borrowing limit. If the gov’t had said it would not raise the limit, then I doubt that the school would have upped their price. As snooty as some schools are, they need students, and it is a very small slice of people who can afford tuition without student loans.

    As for ownership vs. renting: First, yes, if you bought last year, then you could be upside down, but that will remedy itself soon enough. You will only make money on buying a house if you plan to stay for several years, so if you plan to move around, then yes, renting is the better option.

    Remember, once you write your rent check, you will never see any of that money again. If you buy, you at least have a chance of seeing some of it, even if you don’t actually make profit. For example, if you rent at $1000 a month for 5 years, you will have spent $60,000.00 that you will never, ever see again.

    However, if you buy a $100,000 house with a $100,000 loan with a $1000 payment for 5 years, then sell the house for $100000, you at least will get the part of the money back that you paid down on the loan. Even if it is only, say, $5000 that you paid in interest on the loan, you at least get that back, so you are only out a net of $55,000. These are round numbers just to make the thinking easier.

    I am curious as to what you think the downside or “wrongside of buying is, assuming you will be there long enough to at least break even, or lose less then you would lose by renting.

  4. I really like your point about the school loans/lending limits thing, any articles or stats you’ve read in support of that? I’d be interested.

    As to the house, there are several things I can think of. One, I know people who feel quite stuck in their current position (own home, need two jobs to make ends meet, don’t want to lose ‘equity’) in large part due to the decision to buy a house as opposed to renting. Obviously they made that choice, but they also had, like most of us, way to many people saying it was unequivocally a good idea.
    Personally, the time commitment to maintenance has been a much unforeseen negative. When we rented we had landlords and maintenance people we could call to take care of those things (and there were some who didn’t). Now, that time, energy, money, frustration, and risk all rest on my shoulders. That is really a big one, owning your own house means assuming a lot of ‘risk.’ Renting allows that risk to rest on the landlords shoulders not yours.

    Again, I’m not saying it’s one way or the other, just that there is more then just finances involved in the stewardship

  5. No arcticles on the school thing – just my observation. Seems to me to be one of the unintended consequenses of well intentioned government policy. They want to help people go to school, so they help them get the money. Schools catch on, and figure there is more where that came from, and suddenly you have $35K a year for tuition at private school, which makes it even harder for people to afford, or increases the tax burden on all of us.

    As for homeownershil, of course you have to “buy smart”, meaning you get a good loan at a good rate, and don’t buy more than you can afford. I just mean that if you are going to pay the same dollars for housing whether you rent or buy, then lots of times buying is better. As for being stuck, whether you can’t pay your rent or you can’t pay your mortgage then you lose the place and your credit rating is toast. In general, unless you are talking about a one bedroom efficiency, you get more housing for your dollar when you buy versus rent.

    As for maintainance and other matters, of course there again you have to “buy smart”. I am not saying you did not, by the way. If you know that you are not handy, or don’t want to mow the lawn, or can’t do renovations, then you buy accordingly. If you don’t want to mow, then buy a condo. If you can’t do repairs, then buy newer and get a warranty. If you are not up to renovating, then don’t buy a house that needs fixing up.

    As for having landlords to fix for you, remember you are paying them for that, which is why it is more expensive than owning.

    Anyway, I thought you might have some moral reason for being against owning. As it turns out, you are just assessing risks, benefits, returns on ivestement, etc. That is, you are just thinking like a Capitalist. Funny how the real-world experience of working for money and deciding where and how you should spend it has that effect on people. Good for you!

  6. Well, the moral thing is what I mentioned in the original post. I don’t think debt is a good thing.

    And believe me, I think like a capitalist a lot more then you think.

  7. The first thing that comes to mind when you asked for something that is right for me but not necessarily right for everyone else is with swearing. I don’t swear at all and I’ve actually never said a swear word before. Just like with you and the alcohol Ariah, this isn’t a Holier-than-thou thing at all either. I don’t think there’s a moral problem in and of itself with swearing. I think those words probably have a time and a place. But for me, I feel it would be wrong to swear. I first made the commitment not to swear when I was four years old. My dad when he got really angry would swear like a sailor, and I decided than that I didn’t want to get like that. Thankfully, if you never start a habit, it’s not hard to not to something. So, for instance, when I stub my toe, I don’t even think of a swear word. I just think “Oww!”, haha. So yeah, I don’t have a problem with someone else being comfortable swearing, but for me, I’m not comfortable with it.

    For a second thing, I’m not sure exactly. I boycott Wal-mart and Coca-Cola. I guess that counts, right?

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