A Biblical Perspective on Taxes

December 29, 2017 0 Comments

The passage of the recent Tax Bill by congress brought to my mind several Biblical principles regarding taxation in general. On any issue, it is good to have a thoroughly biblical perspective, instead of approaching it from a purely political basis. As Christians, we live our lives based on what the Book says, not on what is popular or politically correct.
First, Jesus taught us that it is right and proper to pay taxes. He was challenged by the Herodians to answer this question: Is it lawful to pay tribute (taxes) to Caesar or not?" (Matt. 22:17). Realizing they were trying to trick Him, Jesus asked whose inscription was on the coins, and they said: Caesar's. He then told them: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's" (Matt. 22:21).
On another occasion, Peter was being criticized by the Jews for not paying their ridiculous "temple tax", so the Lord sent Peter to the seashore and told him to cast in a hook. When Peter did so, the fish he caught had a coin in its mouth, of sufficient value to pay the temple tax for both of them (see Matt. 17:24-27).
Second, the Apostle Paul commanded the church to give "tribute to whom tribute is due" (Rom. 13:7). He pointed out that government was instituted by God to protect its citizens (Rom. 13:1-4), and is therefore worthy of receiving taxes because they are "God's ministers", appointed to maintain law and order. That is the legitimate purpose of government and therefore should be supported by our taxes.
We all know taxes are a real nuisance and inconvenience. Joseph and Mary found that out when the "decree went forth from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed". That is one taxing that God Himself ordained in order to get the right people in the right place at the right time--so that the Savior of the world would be born in Bethlehem.
One of the things we should appreciate about our country is that we have representatives in government who make such decisions. Remember, this country was founded on the principle that "taxation without representation" was WRONG. If you think about it, America was born because of a massive tax revolt in Boston harbor. Whether we think our taxes are too high or not, whether we feel it is a fair system or not, at least we are making the decision ourselves through our elected representatives.
Perhaps the most difficult part of paying taxes for Christians is knowing that sometimes our money is being spent on things we cannot support with a clear conscience. Using tax dollars to fund abortions (Planned Parenthood) is against everything we believe. Thomas Jefferson wrote: "To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical". That is what our founding fathers thought about taxing people for the wrong reasons.
So, paying taxes is biblical, and it is good citizenship. And it certainly doesn't hurt us to pay less tax than we did before!

Richard Seefried
Harrisonburg, VA
Richard Seefried has a Master’s Degree in Christian Ministry, and is licensed & certified by the NCCA as a clinical pastoral counselor.