Earlier today Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, posted an excellent article entitled Render Unto Caesar? On Paying Taxes After Obamacare. In the article Dr. Mohler argues on the basis of such passages as Mark 12:7, Romans 13:1-7, and 1 Peter 2:13-14 that Christians are required to pay their taxes even if the government is corrupt and uses some of the tax money for evil purposes.
In my view, Dr. Mohler has correctly assessed the Biblical evidence and offered sound counsel for Christians who struggle with Obamacare, especially with its potential for allowing taxes to pay for abortions. Dr. Mohler tackles the issue head-on. Here are his final conclusions:
With the power to govern comes the power to tax, and government is a divinely-ordained institution. Christians are commanded to pay taxes, and were commanded by Christ and the apostles to pay taxes even to a pagan government involved in immoral and ungodly policies — including the oppression of the Jews and the nation of Israel. Thus, the question of paying taxes after Obamacare is put in its proper perspective.
We cannot and must not bend the knee to Caesar, accepting the government as our ultimate sovereign. We cannot submit to accept idolatry and idolatrous practices. But paying taxes is a matter of our Christian obligation.There is no Christian mandate against tax avoidance — which is the use of lawful and legitimate measures to limit tax exposure. In other words, Christians are not mandated to seek to maximize their tax bills. But tax evasion is another matter, as is tax resistance. Those who seek by illegitimate and illegal means to resist or evade taxes run into direct confrontation with the commands of Christ and the teaching of the apostles.
Abortion is a moral catastrophe. The murder of the unborn is one of the greatest sins any society can tolerate, much less subsidize by taxation. The impact of the new “Obamacare” health care legislation is not yet fully clear, but the legislation lacks any adequate protection for the unborn. Immorality is added to immorality when the power of the government to tax and confiscate the funds of citizens is involved in such a catastrophe.
For this reason, Christian citizens should be involved at every level in the political process, seeking to use legitimate means to establish full protection for the unborn and for all other vulnerable persons. Elections have consequences, and this new legislation is a reminder of the power of government to do both good and evil.
But to refuse to pay taxes is to deny the legitimacy of the government itself, and to declare it beyond political remedy. Even to Christians suffering under the repressive, murderous, and dictatorial yoke of Rome, Jesus instructed the payment of taxes. Caesar, Christ knew, will one day face the judgment of Almighty God. Rome would one day be brought under his own feet and made subject to him.
We do not “render unto Caesar” because of our confidence in Caesar. We render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, because we are committed with our lives and confidence and consciences to render unto God that which is God’s.
For those who may be interested, I have dealt with a similar issue, namely whether it is right for Christians to rebel against their government, in a February 6 article entitled The American Revolution: Was it Biblical?