Monday, November 2, 2009

Taxes and the Christian Conscience

The tribute penny mentioned in the Bible is co...

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Del Tackett (the wonderful host of The Truth Project) has addressed an interesting question on his blog. In light of the fact that the new government health care plan will fund abortions, how should we as Christians wrestle with the concept of paying the taxes which fund those abortions? Should we pay them, or refuse? He words his questions very thoughtfully, and opens his blog up for comments so that others can help bring clarity to the issue.

I ended up writing two comments there (one has been posted at the time of this writing, and one is still awaiting moderation). Since this is a touchy subject, and one that we must all deal with in the near future, I thought I ought to reproduce my comments here for your consideration. I encourage you to read everyone else's comments at Del Tackett's site as well.

As always, your comments are appreciated!


(1st Comment)

I believe that Jesus’ “Render to Caesar” (Matt 22:16-21) is very relevant to our question. Caesar was not a godly man, and his government did many horrible things with tax money. Jesus paid it anyway (Matt 17:24-27), and commanded it to be paid.

I am very Pro-Life. I am horrified by what has become of America by every moral measurement, not just the issue of abortion. I believe I would have been horrified by Caesar’s government if I had been alive in those days.

Why did Jesus say, “Render unto Caesar?”

Tell me, what good did Caesar’s money do against the cause of Christ? Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. It cannot be bought with money, nor defeated by it. Do we really believe that obedience to Christ’s command to “Render unto Caesar” will cause Christ’s purposes to be thwarted? Would Jesus naively command the very thing that would bring about the Kingdom’s destruction? Or does His command force us to take our eyes off of the power of money and put it on Him, trusting Him to conquer those who have the world’s mammon?

There are clearly battles to be fought and won, but they are not fought with the weapons of this world. If we want to change our world, we have to deal in hearts, minds, and spirits, not in fleshly things (2 Co 10:3-4). If we settle for the latter, we may someday end abortion, but we won’t see souls saved. By all means, fight the abortion battle, but fight for the hearts and souls of those who would kill, and fight in a way that brings glory to Christ. We do not glorify Christ when we disobey Him (Render to Caesar), and we do not glorify Him when we fear money’s supposed power to defeat Him. We glorify Him when we serve Him in humble, trusting, loving obedience; and when we serve our fellow man the same way Christ served.

The same Christ who confidently paid His taxes to the very government that would crucify Him.

I don’t pretend to understand it, but isn’t that the point? We walk by faith, not by sight. And faith obeys.

Whose power do we trust more…God’s, or mammon’s?


(2nd Comment)

I feel the need to add a little to my previous comment.
Scripture makes it clear that we are not to trust in money. We are to trust in the Lord our God. Most of us would agree with that when it comes to spending money…but how many of us agree when it comes to withholding money? If we see our power coming from the withholding of money, then our faith is still in money’s power. If we withhold it from them, we win, because victory comes to those who have the most greenbacks.
The kings of the Old Testament were often evil, vile men, and Scripture tells us they exacted taxes from the people to support their wickedness. Yet in all the canon of Scripture, do you find people being chastised by God for paying taxes?
Let’s think about the well-known story from 2 Kings 6:15-23. Elisha and his servant were isolated and surrounded by the best that their evil king’s tax monies could buy for him. Armies and chariots in numbers sufficient to surround the whole city…all focused on capturing just two men.
The servant was terrified, but Elisha was calm. The prophet prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened, and suddenly, the servant was able to see piles and piles of shekels all around them. Woo hoo, they were saved!
Of course, if you know the story, you know that’s not how it went. The servant saw angelic hosts arrayed in their defense, not piles of money. But I fear that in our current Western mindset, we’re hoping to see my made-up version rather than Scripture’s. The servant might have been happy if he’d seen gobs of earthly treasure instead of angels…and he never would have known what he missed out on seeing.
I wonder if that’s why we’ve been losing this battle all along. Has our trust been in carnal weapons? What have we missed out on seeing?
How Spirit-filled are Christ’s people? How open are our eyes?
I know there are good honest Christians who will disagree with me on this. And while I may not understand what seems to me like pure disobedience to a clear command of Christ’s (render to Caesar), I can at least respect the heart motive. I love to see faithful obedient hearts, trusting Christ as they best understand Him. Even if I think they’ve misunderstood Him, I would rather see that than either paying OR withholding done with misplaced faith…faith in the power of money. So that is my plea. Whether you choose to pay or withhold, be sure you do it with your faith focused on Christ, not on the money.

Please note: Del Tackett has posted an interesting (and probably quite valid) rebuttal to my view on his blog here.

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Karin said...

Thanks for posting these well-thought through comments! Much appreciated1

Sherri Ward said...

I liked this especially: By all means, fight the abortion battle, but fight for the hearts and souls of those who would kill, and fight in a way that brings glory to Christ. Good thoughts, Betsy.

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