Joe Hockey, Australia's current treasurer, has suggested the 'starting point for a first homebuyer is to get a good job that pays good money. If you've got a good job that pays good money and you have security in relation to that job then you can go to the bank and you can borrow money'.
It is very easy for me to instil this value into my three sons without even quoting this to them. We sit in our three bedroom home, with two living areas, two TVs, two outdoor areas and a place for the boys to play. It is a 'good house', no, a 'good home'. 24 minutes to drive to my work, 22 minutes to my wife's place of employment. My sons walk to their private school each day. It takes them 1 minute... even in their non-enthusiastic strut.
My wife and I are in 'good jobs'. We teach because we love to teach secondary students. We see it as a calling. We appreciate the pay packets we get. It's 'good money'.
20 years ago I borrowed money for a deposit on my first home (Dad, did I ever pay you back? Add it to the invoice please). My parents put their house up as a guarantee so I could get that security in relation to my job, so I could then go to the bank and borrow money.
Getting married was the best financial decision I ever made. At least it meant I could now actually afford to pay off the interest on that home loan. My wife-to-be was never actually impressed by the pizza boxes I piled up over a week to throw out during my bachelor days, but I started to buy food from a supermarket once we got married. That was after we lived off our first ever credit card during our honeymoon and used a fuel card to buy our first lot of groceries once we got back from our holiday.
The best advice?
I sat with a student once, with tears rolling down her face, telling me how hard her mum works to send her to the school I teach at. They get in arguments about this, usually when she gets home late after work at night. Nutritional food is optional for her at times, but she can often 'throw together' something. It might not be healthy, but 'it's food and my sisters will eat it'.
Perhaps I should have mentioned what our nation's financial manager said. Would this have been the best advice to give her and solve her issues at home?
We have heard what Joe Hockey has said; let's consider this with some of the words of Jesus:
'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor' (Luke chapter 4, verse 18).
'If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me' (Matthew chapter 19, verse 21).
'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me' (Matthew chapter 25, verses 34–36).
'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me' (Matthew chapter 25, verse 40).
It seems to me Jesus never pointed the finger at the poor and required a response from them materially. He focused on their spiritual welfare. Jesus was much more critical of those with much and promoted the idea that God expected much from them.
Our country needs an honest and open discussion about the cost of housing, the rising cost of renting and the cost of living. It has to be more than just to address the need by telling people to get a 'good job'. This has far-reaching consequences for the way we balance personal and social responsibility, family and economic issues, education and matters of ethnicity and race.
Appearing to blame people for their inability to get a good job as the reason why they cannot afford to rent, travel to work or eat, let alone buy a good home is not called for.
As Christians, let us make a clear choice—between the theology of Joe and the theology of Jesus.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin's archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html