Friday, May 20, 2016

A Christian's Duty to Pay Taxes

When Obamacare became law in the United States in 2010, many Christians were uncomfortable with the idea of paying taxes that would support anti-Christian practices, such as abortion.  Since abortion is murder which violates the Sixth Commandment, should Christians withhold their taxes in protest?  In his Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans (written in 1835), Robert Haldane addresses the Christian's duty to pay taxes (pp. 586-587):

"The reason why the thing [paying taxes] is a matter of conscience is, because government is a Divine appointment.  Taxes are to be paid to government for its support, because God has appointed government for the good of society.
It is here [Romans 13:7] explicitly taught that taxes [or tribute] stand by the law of God on the same footing as private debts, which every man is therefore under equal obligation to discharge.  The same truth is taught by our Lord, when, on the tribute-money, bearing the image of Caesar, being presented to Him, He said, 'Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's.'  The produce of taxes is here determined by the Lord to be the property of the government.  By the laws, too, of every country, taxes are debts, to be paid as much to the government, and even preferable in order of payment to private debts.  Christians have much reason to be thankful that they are thus, by the authority of God, freed from all responsibility respecting the application of every tax, and that this responsibility rests entirely with the government.  Were it otherwise, they would be in constant perplexity on the subject, and almost in every case unable to determine whether it was their duty to pay or to withhold payment.  They would thus be exposed every moment to be placed in opposition to the rulers, while at all times it would be actually impossible for them to live in a heathen or a Mohammedan country.

Some persons make a distinction between general and particular taxes, and refuse to pay taxes levied for particular purposes, when these purposes are believed to be bad.  But there is nothing that will render it unlawful to pay a particular or specific tax, that will not equally apply to a general tax, any part of which it is believed is to be applied to a bad use.  Why are we not accountable for the application of every part of a general tax?  Because we have no control over it, and our approbation of it when we pay it is not implied.  The same considerations exempts us from any share of responsibility respecting the sinful application of a specific tax.  If taxes are debts, then the payment of them no more implies approbation of their object, than the payment of any other debt involves approbation of the purpose to which it is applied."

Bottom line, Christians should pay all of their taxes to the government in a timely manner; it is our duty.

"For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.  For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour," (Romans 13:3-7).