The Bear Went Over the Mountain

Okay, so today is tax day, and it is time for a little pep talk. Our government is going what governments do best, which is being greedy, grasping, voracious, irresponsible, idiotic, and shrewd. The people on the receiving end of this are doing what they do best, which is complain about it without doing anything really effective about it. But it is not through a lack of trying. All over the country, “Tea Parties” have been organized for today in order to protest the lunatic largesse of our gummint, which does need some protesting, I’ll give them that. There is actually one of these events about a block away from my office, and so later on I will stroll over there in the same spirit as the bear that went over the mountain, “to see what he could see.”

In the meantime, just a few thoughts about your taxes (which are due today, in case you forgot). As a Christian, you pay your taxes because God tells you to, and not because Caesar does (Rom. 13: 6-7). Caesar is not in charge of the operation, God is. Caesar wants to pretend that there is no court of appeal behind him, but there is. He is God’s deacon, and we are paying him (according to God’s Word) so that he might be in a position to reward the righteous and punish the evil doer. That’s the theory.

Second, no human institution or government is absolute. Because all human authorities are susceptible to temptation and sin, another scenario becomes a scriptural possibility. Instead of rewarding the righteous and punishing the wrongdoer, the authorities might rebel against heaven and reverse this, seeking to punish the righteous and give nihilistic art grants to the evil ones. It is at this point that the biblical doctrine of civil disobedience comes in. Gideon was not threshing his crop in the wine vat because that is where the IRS had asked him to file.

The question then arises, where do we draw the line? When do say, “That’s enough”? So the third point is this, and is related to the first point. We pay taxes, not because they are an absolute responsibility that all dutiful serfs must accept, but rather as free men and free women in Christ who don’t want to give unnecessary offense (Matt. 17:24-27). We have the liberty to skip it, but we have other issues that are more pressing than saving ourselves a bit of cash. So let’s not offend them. The gospel is more important, the declaration of Christ’s kingdom is more important, the refusal to render to Caesar that which does have God’s image on it (ourselves and our kids) is more important (Matt. 22:21).

One more basic point. The first is that as with all “giving offense” situations, the time may come when it causes greater stumbling to simply file like a good boy. But the best preparation for the day when drawing the line on paying becomes necessary is to mortify any remaining connection to taking. It is not a real tax revolt unless and until we refuse the benefits first.

A good half of the American populace pays virtually no tax at all — and many of them receive quite a few benefits. Those who do pay need to understand that they are not proposing simply to withhold funds from pointy-headed liberals in Washington. Those folks in Washington were shrewd enough to hook up a bunch of other people to the benefits, to butter their side of the bread, and so forth. If you go to one of these tea parties, realize that you are going to visit many of your fellow Americans in the hospital, and you are standing on their oxygen hose. Don’t be surprised if you get a reaction.

Related to this, if you are receiving government payments in any of its redistributive forms, then you have no business going to one of these events. Food stamps, student loans, subsidized housing, public schooling, and so on — your time would be better spent just staying home and trying to figure out how to disconnect the oxygen hose yourself.

Refuse the benefits first

. That is the first step in tax reformation.

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