Remember the story of Robin Hood? You may think of him as a hero who stole from the rich to give to the poor. But that’s not actually what Mr. Hood did. The government (the Sheriff of Nottingham) had been stealing from the people to enrich those in power, thus making the people poor. So Robin began a crusade to take it back from the authorities. Whose theft was worse?
Our nation began with the recognition that God is the supreme authority, & all of our rights are God-given. This is why America was built on the concepts of limited government & balance of power–so the State would not become like the monarchies of Europe. The power to tax is the power to control & even destroy. This is one reason why it would be dangerous for the government to ever gain the power to tax the Church as a number of people are calling for.
God has delegated limited authority to human government to maintain peace, freedom & order–it is to do right & do us good (Rom. 13:3-4). Yet excessive taxation burdens families. To the detriment of children, both parents are being pushed into the workforce to pay the bills, with the biggest bill from Uncle Sam. When the federal income tax was first created 110 years ago, it was with the assurance that we would never have more than 1 to 2 percent of our income confiscated by the State–it would be ridiculous to even consider 5 percent! But we’re far past that now with tax brackets ranging from 10 to 37%. Now the average family is working nearly a third of each day to pay their tax burden.
Taxes are proper when used to pay civil servants for legitimate purposes (Romans 13:6-7). But taxes become legalized theft when they’re used for projects outside the bounds of the God-given purpose of government–to punish evil & thereby protect the innocent (Rom. 13:3-4). The question is: Why is government taxing us so much? Is it really to defend our nation or to fight crime? No, much is for social spending–redistributing income from some to others whether through so-called acts of “charity” or through crony capitalism. It is unjust.
Taxing policies have actually discouraged honest work & rewarded sloth & entitlement. When people are led to believe: “I have a right to a home, food, health care, welfare, child care & college regardless of my character, ambition, or financial discipline,” that’s not moral because it involves coveting what does not rightfully belong to me (2 Thes. 3:10). This is why socialism is sometimes called “the politics of envy.” Nearly all politicians & parties are guilty of this to some degree.
Redistributing wealth just because people vote for it doesn’t make it right–that’s just theft by the will of the majority. The commandment against stealing cannot be lifted by popular vote either for individuals or governments. The State can never truly act charitably because it is spending other people’s money that has been collected by threat of force. Only individuals who voluntarily contribute can act charitably. The more money the government demands for illegitimate purposes, the less money we’re left with to fund charity or God’s work. Besides, modern history has demonstrated that the government has not helped those in poverty much more than private charity did in the past. In some ways, it has made poverty worse.
We’ve seen the shameful waste of our resources by irresponsible representatives who have squandered, misused, pork-barreled, & mismanaged it. Humorist Will Rogers once remarked long ago: “If you think you’re getting too much government, just be thankful you’re not getting as much as you’re paying for.” But even worse are those who have used our money to promote immoral objectives (which are too numerous to list).
But in spite of all this, according to the Bible, it is proper to pay our taxes even if we disagree with the way the government spends it or how much of our money the State demands (Mark 12:13-17). But we don’t live under the oppressive Roman Empire like the first believers did who had no recourse. In this nation, WE are the government. We choose representatives who set tax policy. They answer to us. So isn’t it incumbent upon us Christians who properly understand God’s Word to constrain government to its proper moral boundaries?
Wasn’t a protest against unjust taxes (8.3% on British tea) the pivot point for the Revolution that founded this nation? Instead of throwing tea into the harbor like our forebears, or retrieving money from the government by force like Robin Hood, we can vote, lobby, & protest.
You may say that preachers like me should keep our noses out of politics. But Scripture informs our views on everything. All political policies are rooted in some kind of morality. By misusing our money for unjust & evil purposes, they are the ones who have intruded into the realm of religion. Life IS theology…& bad theology always hurts people.