R.C. Sproul, Jr.
Highlands Study Center
With health care reform it seems our tax dollars will end up paying for abortions. Should we continue to pay taxes to Washington?
Yes. The recent “passage” of health care reform has rightly raised concerns among Christians. We ought to object to this blatant assault on our liberties. We ought to remonstrate this seizure of so great a swath of the economy. We ought also to protest the use of tax dollars to pay for the greatest evil of our day, the wholesale slaughter of unborn children. All while paying our taxes.
One of the confusing results of the American notion of democracy, the claim of Lincoln that we have a government of the people, by the people, for the people, is that we misunderstand the nature of what is happening when the state taxes us, and when the state spends what it brings in. We tend to see Washington as a mere middle-man, a clearing house, a facilitator that pools my money with my neighbors, and then spends it on what my neighbor and I want it to be spent on. We so identify with the state that we think we are doing what they are doing, that we are guilty of what they are guilty of. No, we are tax-payers. They are tax-spenders.
Jesus faced a situation rather similar to our own. He lived under the reign of a rather rapacious and brutal regime. And there were also, in those days, good and pious people who despised Rome and her evil deeds. They suggested that perhaps godliness in that context meant not paying taxes. Jesus saw things differently, telling them to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21). Our job is to pay our taxes. Failure to do so will bring down God’s wrath on us. The state’s job, according to Romans 13, is to exercise the power of the sword, to punish evildoers. It is not God’s instrument of redistributing wealth, which health care reform does. It is certainly not God’s instrument to punish the unborn, which health care reform does. The failure of the state here will surely bring down God’s judgment upon them. My responsibility for the use of “my” tax money ends when it stops being “mine,” when I send it in to Washington.
Jesus, please remember, was well aware of the evil spending habits of the Roman empire. He knew, in fact, that within a matter of days Roman taxes would be spent to murder the innocent in a most gruesome manner. What those in Jesus’ hearing rendered unto Caesar would be spent to purchase wood, and nails, to pay soldiers who would scourge and mock the Lord of glory. “Pay your taxes” the Lord told them. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” If we Christians sincerely hope to change this country, if we truly wish to protect the littlest among us, the solution isn’t to keep more of our federal reserve notes. It is instead to stop rendering unto Caesar the things that bear God’s image- the children. Give Caesar your taxes. Stop giving him your children.