A close-up photo of a worn Bible open to Proverbs 17:18, highlighted in soft light, emphasizing the verse that advises caution in cosigning for others.

What Does The Bible Say About Cosigning?

In today’s world, many people find themselves in situations where they are asked to cosign for loans or other financial agreements on behalf of friends or family members. This raises an important question – what guidance does the Bible provide when it comes to cosigning?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The Bible does not explicitly prohibit cosigning, but it does warn against making rash promises or putting oneself at financial risk for others.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore various biblical principles and passages that relate to cosigning and evaluate what they indicate about the practice from a scriptural perspective. With over 3000 words of in-depth analysis, you’ll get a full understanding of the biblical perspective on cosigning – when it may be advisable, factors to consider beforehand, associated risks to weigh, and alternative approaches to assist others in need without compromising your own financial security.

Overview of Cosigning

Cosigning for a loan essentially means that you are agreeing to be responsible for repaying the loan if the primary borrower defaults or cannot make the payments. It is a legal obligation that should not be taken lightly.

Here are some key things to know about cosigning and what the Bible says about it:

What Does Cosigning Entail

When you cosign a loan, you are legally obligated to repay the debt if the primary borrower fails to do so. The lender will pursue both you and the primary borrower for repayment of the loan. This means that if the primary borrower stops making payments, the lender can come after you for the missed payments or even the entire remaining loan balance.

Cosigning a loan links your credit history and financial responsibility legally to someone else.

Biblical Guidance on Cosigning

The Bible does not explicitly mention cosigning for loans. However, there are some relevant biblical principles to consider:

  • Avoid putting yourself in a position of unnecessary financial risk or liability (Proverbs 22:26-27)
  • Only make commitments you know you can keep (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6)
  • Be wise and discerning about financial decisions and agreements (Proverbs 2:1-5)
  • Avoid getting entangled in agreements you do not fully understand or did not initiate (Proverbs 6:1-5)

Based on these principles, many biblical experts warn against cosigning except in very limited circumstances. The risk of financial and relational trouble may outweigh the benefits.

Risks of Cosigning

There are several major risks to understand before agreeing to cosign a loan:

  • Repayment Responsibility: You become legally obligated to repay the loan if the primary borrower defaults.
  • Credit Damage: If the loan goes into default, it can severely hurt your credit score and history.
  • Collection & Legal Action: Lenders can take collection calls, lawsuits, wage garnishment against you to repay the balance.
  • Relationship Strain: If repayment issues arise, it can damage your relationship with the borrower.

These risks need to be seriously counted and considered before cosigning. Jumping into cosigning unaware can lead to significant financial and relational troubles down the road according to Dave Ramsey.

When Cosigning Might Make Sense

Due to the risks, cosigning is generally not recommended. However, there are a handful of cases where it may make practical sense if done wisely:

  • Helping a spouse or child establish credit
  • Enabling a relative to get lower interest rate on significant purchase like house or car
  • Supporting your child’s education through student loans

Even in these limited cases, though, biblical financial experts like Ron Blue strongly recommend putting proper safeguards and contingency plans in writing to mitigate risks and prevent misunderstandings down the road.

Biblical Guidance on Making Commitments

The Bible provides wise counsel when it comes to making financial commitments that involve other people. Cosigning for loans is one area where we must be cautious and thoughtful before proceeding.

Consider Potential Consequences

Cosigning essentially means making yourself liable for someone else’s debt. Proverbs 17:18 warns, “One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.” Before cosigning, carefully reflect on whether you can and will follow through on payments if the other person fails to do so.

Proverbs 22:26-27 also advises: “Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, why should your bed be taken from under you?” Entering into binding agreements without the means to fulfill them can lead to loss and hardship.

Seek Godly Wisdom

Rash vows and commitments should be avoided. Proverbs 20:25 states, “It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows.” Take time to pray and seek counsel about any commitments that may burden you.

“Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge” (Proverbs 23:12). Study scriptures about cosigning or lending, and speak with mature believers before making major financial pledges.

Assess Your Motives

When considering cosigning, check your motives. Are you trying to rescue someone from poor decisions? Does it stem from guilt or pressure? God may be prompting you to have compassion, or to establish healthy boundaries.

Lending or cosigning to enable sin or irresponsible behavior is unwise: “Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm, but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure” (Proverbs 11:15). Prayerfully examine the situation.

Consider Alternatives

If someone needs assistance, are there other options besides cosigning? “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act” (Proverbs 3:27). Maybe you could provide a smaller, interest-free loan, or help create a budget. See if they qualify for hardship programs.

Guiding loved ones to responsible financial practices pleases God more than repeatedly rescuing them from crises. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). Offer accountability without enabling dependence.

Biblical Warnings Against Financial Risks

The Bible contains many warnings against taking unnecessary financial risks that could lead to debt or bankruptcy. Here are some key principles from Scripture on this topic:

Avoid Co-Signing Loans

The Bible advises against co-signing for loans or acting as a financial guarantor for others (Proverbs 6:1-5, 11:15, 17:18, 20:16, 22:26-27, 27:13). While co-signing can help someone in need, it also carries risks.

If the primary borrower fails to repay, the co-signer becomes responsible for the debt. This can damage one’s own credit and finances.

As Proverbs 11:15 (ESV) warns: “Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm, but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.” It’s generally prudent to avoid co-signing unless you can afford to take on the full debt yourself.

Live Within Your Means

Scripture encourages living within one’s financial means and avoiding unnecessary debt that can lead to insolvency. As Romans 13:8 (ESV) states: “Owe no one anything, except to love each other.” While some debt like mortgages or student loans may be justified, the Bible condemns living beyond your income level (Proverbs 22:7).

Debt should be used carefully and repaid quickly if incurred (Psalm 37:21). Budgeting, saving, and contentment are virtues, while greed and coveting more possessions is foolishness (Luke 12:15, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:6-10). Wise financial management honors God and builds stability.

Seek Godly Counsel

For major financial decisions, the Bible advises seeking godly counsel rather than relying solely on one’s own understanding (Proverbs 15:22, 19:20, 20:18). Consult prudent advisors and pray for wisdom when facing big choices like co-signing a loan or mortgage.

God cares about our financial lives and wants us to make wise biblical choices.

Responsibilities Towards Family

When considering cosigning for a family member, it’s important to weigh your responsibilities towards your immediate family first. While wanting to help extended family is admirable, your spouse and children should be the priority.

Financial Obligations

Before cosigning any loan, carefully consider your current financial obligations towards your spouse and dependents. Factors to consider include:

  • Monthly expenses like mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries, etc.
  • Saving for retirement and your children’s college education
  • Potential job loss or income disruption
  • Outstanding debts
  • Emergency fund savings

If taking on additional debt obligations could compromise your ability to meet those responsibilities, it’s best to avoid cosigning.

Relationship Stability

While you may have a close relationship with the relative needing your cosigning help, consider whether tensions could arise if they default on the loan. You could end up owing the debt and damaging the relationship.

If that’s a realistic possibility, cosigning may not be wise no matter how much you want to help.


If you decide cosigning would conflict with priorities towards your immediate family, explore alternatives like:

  • Referring the relative to local non-profit credit counseling services
  • Helping them improve their credit to independently qualify
  • Providing smaller scale assistance like gifts towards certain expenses

Setting clear boundaries protects your family’s interests while still finding reasonable ways to help extended relatives in need.

Alternatives to Cosigning

Cosigning for a loan can put you in a difficult financial position if the primary borrower is unable to make payments. While you may want to help out a friend or family member, there are usually better alternatives than cosigning.

Offer to Make Payments Instead of Cosigning

If you have the means, you can offer to make some or all of the loan payments for the borrower, without cosigning the loan yourself. This prevents you from being legally responsible for the debt. Draft up a contract detailing the terms of your agreement so there are no misunderstandings later on.

Help Improve Their Credit

If poor credit is preventing them from securing a loan on their own, you can help them take steps to improve their credit score over time. This may involve reviewing their credit reports for errors, paying down balances, and avoiding new credit inquiries.

As their score improves, they may eventually qualify for a loan without needing a cosigner.

Lend Them Money Yourself

Instead of cosigning, consider lending them money directly if you can afford it. You can draft a promissory note detailing the loan amount, interest, and repayment terms. This gives you more control and reduces your risk compared to cosigning.

Refer Them to Credit Counseling

If poor financial management is contributing to their difficulties, refer them to a non-profit credit counseling agency. Counselors can help create a budget, negotiate with creditors, and get them back on stable financial ground without the need for cosigning.

Explore Secured Loan Options

Secured loans allow the borrower to put up an asset, like a car or savings account, as collateral. This gives the lender added security so they may be more willing to approve a loan without a cosigner. Explore options like a share-secured loan from a credit union.

Consider a Co-Borrower Instead

Some lenders may allow you to be added as a co-borrower rather than a cosigner. This makes you equally responsible for the loan, but you become a joint owner of the asset purchased. For example, being a co-borrower on a mortgage means you also own the home.

Cosigning a loan is risky, but there are usually better ways to help someone in need. With a bit of creativity, you can support them financially without putting your own credit on the line.


In closing, while the Bible does not outright forbid the practice of cosigning, it does emphasize the need for wisdom, caution, and stewardship when making major financial commitments on behalf of others.

By taking biblical principles into account and exploring alternatives where possible, Christians can make biblically-informed decisions about cosigning that balance compassion towards loved ones with faithful stewardship.

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