Jesus and Taxes
Our president stirred things up a couple of weeks ago by suggesting that Jesus would approve of higher taxes. President Obama didn’t say that EXACTLY, but it was how virtually everybody heard it. It went like this:
“For me as a Christian, it (higher taxes – especially on the affluent) also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.
I read the Bible daily (occupational hazard), and I can only find two direct references Jesus made to taxes. One was where He took a coin from a fish’s mouth to pay a tax. The other was when He uttered the famous line: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Jesus always seemed apolitically less concerned about policy, and more about people. He loved the social outcast tax collectors.
The president misused the words of Christ. Jesus is talking about (ironically) diligence in work. There is no virtue, or reward, or choice – for that matter – in having the government take more of your earnings so they can redistribute it. Let me take that a step further: So they can redistribute it in a way that will curry favor and influence the next election.
I get uneasy when ANY politician, left or right, tries to staple a campaign poster to Jesus.
Jesus rejected attempts in His day to co-opt His mission for the sake of secular politics, and there’s no reason to believe He’s changed his mind now. Jesus rides the back of neither elephants nor donkeys. His is a kingdom that transforms this corrupt little ghetto-planet, and its politics.
As for redistributing wealth, there are some surprising things in the Bible about poverty. There are tons of verses about not hoarding wealth, and caring for the poor. But 1 Timothy 5 also gives a stunningly precise set of standards for WHICH widows should and should NOT get help from the church. And there’s this gem from 2 Thess. 3:10, “If a man will not work, he will not eat.”
We’ve heard a lot of clamoring lately about the greedy rich, and Occupy This-or-that, and people above a certain income (as determined, of course, by the federal government) paying “their fair share.” Money is NOT the root of all evil; loving it is (1 Tim. 6:10). But here’s a valid question, I think: Is it greedier to love the money YOU made, or to love and demand somebody ELSE’s money to which you think you’re entitled? Just a thought.
I will always defend the President’s right to let his faith inform his policy decisions. Maybe he’ll give some time to asking WWJA (Who Would Jesus Abort)? Or study what the Bible says about normal marriage.
By the way, when Jesus talked about “rendering unto Caesar” that tax, His main point was not the tax. He was reminding us that we are minted in the image of God. Give Caesar the tax he demands. If you don’t like Caesar, or his policies, vote him out. But give God … you.