Taxation And Christian Practice

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by LysanderShapiro, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. #1 LysanderShapiro, Aug 12, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
    This could lead into some political disagreements, but I felt it would be nice to shake things up a bit since the issue with taxes is a sticky one when it comes to Christian practice. I do think it's a pretty important issue.

    The scriptures are clear about "rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's" (Matthew 22:21), but what about those who tax? What are your thoughts on Luke 3:12-13? Because the collectors often took more than they were authorized, could this be 1) regarding obeying authority and 2) respecting the fruits of one's labor?

    What about those in the highest places of authority? When they tax, are they violating Exodus 20:15?

    Do you believe taxation supports the meaning of Proverbs 19:17 (or maybe more appropriately, 2 Corinthians 9:7) or does it undermine it? Where does charity end and taxation begin?

    I suppose we could get into the Denarius (the coin with Caesar's portrait), whether fiat money is evil or not, etc. etc., but that might be getting into way too much all at once.

    Happy discussing ;)


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  2. #2 Brother_Mike_V, Aug 12, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
    I guess the heart of the matter comes down to believers living and surviving in an unbelieving/ fallen world. Since 'brethren' are not supposed to charge usury (interest) on each-other and we follow in faith that God will provide: in the ideal monetary system where the community provides for it's needs and security-taxes would not be necessary.

    So "what are taxes?" It can be boiled down to payment rendered to governmental bodies for services that the individual, communities or states are either unwilling or incapable of doing.

    Taxes are an indicator to how lazy -or- how enslaved a society has become. More taxes always means more oppression by the government. The lazier a society gets-the more government takes advantage of them, and one day the slaves realize they are slaves. Usually after it is too late...
    LysanderShapiro likes this.
  3. Do you think society is often mislead into believing that taxation is charity?
  4. Under ideal circumstances, taxes should represent services rendered, i.e. I pay a gasoline tax which will provide for the maintenance of roads, or I pay an airport tax which pays the traffic controllers salaries.
    The difficulty is where (as we have now) taxation becomes thoroughly repressive and is used to pay for things that are of no benefit to me or society whatsoever (such as our interminable wars and illegal surveillance state).

    Taxes, in and of themselves, are neither good nor evil, just practical. It is the misuse of tax by a corrupt government that causes the problems.
    Major likes this.
  5. Aren't taxes, regardless of amount and use, still collected via force in most cases? Wouldn't that be theft?
  6. 'Charity" is a misnomer for "welfare": welfare nowadays is a benefit for those whom think they are entitled. Most welfare is a scam and those who need it most can't get it most of the time.

    If the Church was doing its job; true 'charity' would be the Church taking care of the poor, needy, widows, fatherless, prisoners....

    But since we can't dictate morals to the lost -and- the church is in pieces -and- people don't trust the church because of corruption; "Charity" in it's true essence of Christ is lost.

    Thus-we are called to a higher purpose. To tend to the spiritual needs of the lost while we tend to the spiritual AND physical needs of our Brothers & Sisters. Can we reach the lost by taking care of their physical needs-no not really-but maybe the switch can be flipped on the spiritual while tending the physical.

    It all goes back to the need for changing hearts towards Jesus Christ.
  7. I agree with most of this. However, while I do think that the Church isn't nearly as strong as it should be, it is still alive, as is Charity. I was pretty amazed, for example, how much was given in private aid to the Japanese earthquake victims a couple of years ago--it surpassed government aid even after taxes.

    That whole thing aside, I absolutely agree with you.
  8. Yeah. We're strangers in a strange land as Christians.

    I agree with Glomung that taxation is just a method to practically manage the affairs of a nation. Whether a government does or doesn't ask for taxes is a lot less important to me than whether or not the people of a nation know how to hold their government accountable for everything they do, including the way they use taxes. The message of "trust your government" is a dangerous, destructive force when coupled with taxation.
  9. Excellent answers, folks ;)

    I can understand the logic behind that.

    What about the way they retrieve taxes (at the very least income, payroll, capital gains taxes)? The concern of HOW they use their taxes is most definitely a concern, but what about the means to take the fruits of one's labor by force an immoral practice all together? Is that in itself not holding the government accountable because it permits theft of others?
  10. "but what about the means to take the fruits of one's labor by force"

    That is a pertinent issue. That is why taxes should be treated as "payment for services rendered".
    If you do not use said service, you pay no tax. Payment at the point of service, i.e. at the gas pump,
    would mean that the government would not be banging on your door demanding 35% of your wages.
    Income tax is inherently regressive (oppressive) and tends to be hardest on those who really don't have the change to spare. I would say that in excess of 90% of what our modern government does are actions we could well do without.
  11. I think it's fair to suggest this. I'm not quite in agreement with you, but I do understand the logic, and I think it's absolutely right to at the very least consider what you said.

    What if someone really didn't like the services of the State, felt they were inadequate, and that it could be done more efficiently via private exchange and contract--would it be moral for the State to take from that individual when he'd prefer not to contribute? (Let's establish that the individual would of course be using some of the services out of no other option, like driving on the roads for instance [unless he could avoid stepping on any public property which is impossible for him]).

    This scenario might seem silly, I think it's still food for thought. It's really a question of principle regarding when something is done justly or unjustly according to God's Word.
  12. Is it really stealing?

    It's only stealing if you really own it in the first place.

    So I guess it depends if you think ownership is a universal concept, or if it's relative to the laws of each particular nation. The Bible doesn't comment on what "ownership" universally is, as far as I know. Each nation has its own set of legislation on what constitutes ownership. Laws have the power to declare what you do or don't legally own. Taxation laws declare that the government legally owns part of the income you receive.

    I suppose what you may be asking is, is a government acting justly in declaring that it owns part of your wage? In a democracy, it seems to follow that this declaration is just if it's supported by the will of the majority.

    The nature of Democracy is that not everyone gets what they want, only the majority. In a Democracy, the government is only being unjust if it's asking for taxes to fund things that the majority of the people don't want, in which case, the people have a responsibility to hold the government accountable for misrepresenting the will of the majority.

    Although, I must admit, that allowing people to pick and choose what they want to pay taxes for would probably be a very accurate way of measuring the will of the majority.
  13. I think that's the breakdown itself. If ownership is only defined by a government, then who holds the government accountable if the government can dictate? I would say stealing is truly stealing when it is taking something that actually and literally belongs to someone else. If you were to exchange your ideas and/or labor for money, and because your ideas and labor are products of you, then exchange means the money does belong to you.

    You are right that in a Democracy, the will of the majority is how the choices are made. However, in a Republic, one's inalienable rights, which stem from our creator, are recognized as more valuable than the will of the majority. So if my district, for instance, by 99% wants to vote in a new law that says anyone with curly hair can no longer go outside after 5 PM (I know--obscure), it wouldn't matter because my rights protect me against this kind of tyranny.

    Setting aside political systems, if one legitimately earned $100 through his labor (in other words, it's his--he worked hard for it and received the monetary equivalent via voluntary exchange), is the State committing theft by demanding he pay or else they'll put him in jail?
  14. I'm asking a question I don't know the answer to, but what would have happened to the Old Testament Hebrews if they didn't pay their tithes?
  15. From what I understand, they would have been killed or thrown in prison.

    Wait, we're taking about tithes, separate from taxes. That's a good question. I'll have to look into that and let you know what I find :) Of course, I'm not talking about what God chose to do to those who didn't pay their tithes.
  16. The people should hold the government accountable if the government dictates ownership laws that aren't supported by the majority.

    I don't actually have any opinion on "divine" property laws. But let's just say, for funsies, that I think that our creator has given no one any inalienable right to own anything. (I guess: how do we know what our inalienable rights are?)
  17. (At the horrible, horrible risk of opening the floodgates from a different ongoing debate) Were the OT tithing laws really all that different from taxes?
  18. 100% agree.

    Inalienable rights are extensions of our own humanity--God's gift and creation to each of our persons. In other words, I have a right to speak because my voice and thoughts are extensions of me. I have the right to worship or not worship (I choose to worship of course). I have the right to publish what I think because they are my thoughts. I have the right to use my labor either by exchange or in charity.

    For funsies, using your scenario that God has not given any inalienable rights, I suppose it would mean that he hasn't granted us free will. Everything that we do and say would be only by his will because we wouldn't have any will of our own. This is different from us giving ourselves and our will to God rather than God taking it.

    I hope this all makes sense.
  19. That's a good question. For Caesar, he demanded the people recognize him as both a political leader AND their lord. Under a theocracy, tithing might easily be an overlap of taxation (I believe it was, for instance, under Henry VIII when he started the Anglican Church).

    Though tithing also had a more divine cause--it was an expression of obedience to God. That's why the poor would only give doves or pigeons.
  20. Hahaha, don't worry about it. I don't really mind if the discussion takes twists and turns. ;)

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