Jordan Sekulow’s Washington Post On Faith column arguing that tax cuts for the wealthy are the biblical thing to do gets the Bible all wrong.
If Sekulow took a look in the Bible, he would see plainly that Jesus endorses the payment of taxes as the price of participation in the economy. You use Caesar’s money, you pay Caesar’s taxes. You use US government-issued greenbacks, you pay the US taxes. Were Sekulow to open the Bible, he would also note Romans 13:1-7, that passage so beloved of conservative authoritarians:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.
And he would see how that passage concludes:
For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due to them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
Now, we could talk about how government is not in fact charity, but the representatives of the people as they build a common enterprise. The principle behind taxation is not therefore generosity, but the duty that those who have benefitted most from the social and economic system to pay back into the system to keep it running smoothly. We could talk about all of that, but it’s in fact beside the point. Jesus and Paul are absolutely clear on this point: being a good citizen is not an option dependent on whether or not you like what the governing authorities are doing with “your money.” It’s an obligation based on keeping covenant with God, who works through the government, among other avenues.
Notice too that Jesus explicitly rejects religious self-definition in terms of opposition to government. You’re not a better Jew by rejecting Caesar’s money, and you’re not a better Christian by cutting taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans, even supposing that they ran out and gave all that money away, which seems unlikely.
Oh, who am I kidding? Despite Sekulow’s scripture quotes, this has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ and everything to do with the gospel according to the Apostle Ronald Reagan. No point in wasting pixels on addlepated idolatry.
One more thing: if Sekulow wants to rail against unjust taxes, he can take up with my congregation’s insurers. So far this year we’ve been hit with a $2,000 increase in health care and a $1,000 jump in fire protection. Talk about ungodly. Yeesh.