"My friends told me to just stop making payments on the house," he confided. But this neighbor would not. It seemed dishonest to him. And it is.
In the last 3 years, it has become increasingly more common to walk away from debt. What used to carry with it a social stigma is becoming more accepted , and in some areas, in vogue as a "sophisticated" option. This greedy practice has unfortunately made its way into LDS households. I am saddened whenever we, as a people, become one less way different than the world.
“The ideal of integrity will never go out of style. It applies to all we do. As leaders and members of the Church, we should be the epitome of integrity.”
(N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 121; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 82).
We all desire to be free from debt, but some of us are doing it at the cost of integrity. True freedom from debt involves developing the habits and character necessary to become powerful over its bondage, not sneaking away from it.
"'Everybody’s doing it' is often given as an excuse. No society can be healthy without honesty, trust, and self-restraint.
"He is dishonest who buys more than he can reasonably expect to pay for. This is defrauding. He has little honor who fails to pay his honest debts. It would seem to me that every luxury one enjoys at the expense of a creditor is not wholly honest. … It is not always dishonorable to be in debt, but certainly it is to ignore debts.
"The theft of pennies or dollars or commodities may impoverish little the one from whom the goods are taken, but it is a shrivelling, dwarfing process to the one who steals."
“Chapter 12: Integrity,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006), 124–34 (my emphasis added)
Instead of walking away from responsibility, let us walk with integrity. Shunning our responsibilities to debtors makes a mockery of the repentance process. Even if we find ourselves in debt due to irresponsibility, there are proper ways to get out, but as is always the way of repentance, prayer, sacrifice, and restitution are required. Do not attempt to correct sin with sin.
Let us be more diligent in avoiding the self-justification that is creeping into our flock. Let us be honest in our dealings that our conscience may be clear and our characters strengthened. May we be examples of righteous living in public and in private.