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Tax All the Fun, Whatever That Is

November 10, 2006

Someone I knew in law school had a wonderfully simple solution for life in America: Like It, Tax It. She thought everything “fun” should be taxed. So I thought of walking along the river flats, kicking crisp fall leaves, wondering how they were going to tax me for the fun of hearing the leaves crunch under my boots.

But the guy going to the Mecca Theater–he should be taxed.

Caesar Augustus had a fair, comprehensive plan: he decreed that “all the world should be taxed.” (Luke 2:1) He didn’t even provide self-addressed envelopes for the taxpayers’ convenience.

For a while, it was under consideration, and still might be, that my county would require a license for–effectively a tax on–every bird a person owned. This was a response to a particular incident of someone keeping more birds than they were able to care for; many birds became ill and died. If they’d had to license those birds, went the city’s rationale, they would have taken better care of them, or kept fewer…or violated more counts of the law. As an owner of five unprofitable chickens I happen to find entertaining, I could be facing five new tax liabilities. For people who keep chickens as an economic necessity, such a tax would only increase their economic necessity.

But my protester’s heart must retreat and acknowledge that God treats civil government as an extension of his own authority. He does not suggest reviewing government-given laws any more than he permits challenging his own. But if God-ordained authorities fail to keep God’s mandates, then is rebellion legitimate? What about Cromwell taking down the monarchy of the monstrous Charles I?

It really flies in the face of our people’s republic to put up with much. Or it used to. We’re the children of the Minutemen. We the people would rather dunk our tea than pay the tea tax.

But when Herod ordered all the infants of Bethlehem slain in his attempt to destroy the newborn King of Israel, we do not see the formation of a rebel army; we see “lamentation , and weeping, and great mourning…” (Matthew 2:16-18). And much more was at stake than taxes.

How could we put up with such injustice unopposed? That’s not who we are; this is America. Hint: I don’t have an answer at the end of this post.

But we’re given some clues.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge, and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91:2

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Psalm 91:8

It’s hard: God–not the law, not the courts, not stashes of weapons, not the Constitution–God alone is our refuge. He is the object of our trust for our eternal souls and for our temporal security. We do not live in “modern times” that have been given to new means of dealing with trouble.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Ecclesiastes: 1:9

We live in an age of comity and its prevailing theme that all have differences to be respected and all must get along. This is GIGO, but it shows no signs of death throes. We are to oppose that which opposes God, and perhaps to be content not to be heard, or to be heard in quiet.

The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. Ecclesiastes 9:17

Sometimes that which opposes God is our own will.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

God will be exalted. We can relent from our ineffectual manipulations. We can relent from vain imaginings that there is power in our own faith and prayers, when there is power in God alone. Then we can ask to know his will.

Posted by Mrs. B at 6:51 AM

Victorbravo said…
Beautiful post. It asks questions that thoughtful Christians have wrestled with at least since the beginning of the Reformation. Certainly the Huguenots, the Scots, and the Dissenting Puritans thought hard about such things and came to their conclusions.

It is harder in our time. I can’t bring myself to justify rebellion, even if our chickens were taxed. Our problem is more subtle than what faced our forebearers in faith. We have it easy. No stakes or executions. Instead, we are tempted at every turn to ignore our faith and our God, go along, and get along.

The “tax all the fun people” are themselves funny. It’s almost as if they take a caricature of the Puritans (whom they no doubt think of as dour) and try to conform to it while rejecting their theology. It’s a strange off-shoot of the sin-tax idea: sin is considered fun, therefore fun must be sin.

9:03 AM
Mrs. B said…
Thank you; I really do struggle with this. God opens this window to his will through Amos:
Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time. Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live….Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate… Amos 5:13-15

The problem remains, how do we know when we are truly facing evil times? As you say, we have it easy. Does that mean we should effect fat and happy approval of things that oppose God?

It makes me feel small and dumb.

9:35 AM
Victorbravo said…
I’m not sure if the question of whether the times are evil determines the political response. The early Christians certainly lived in evil times, yet they made no attempt at political revolt. Instead, they were directed to pray for the rulers and give them due honor when they acted as ministers of God.

On the other hand, when that government demands a form of worship, then disobedience to that demand is clearly called for.

I think our fat and happy state is more akin to being under the rule of pagans. We don’t have the call to revolt, but we still have the call to be faithful witnesses. Our biggest danger these days is to allow our thinking and our actions to agree with those who call evil good and good evil.

It is hard, no question. As we’ve been told many times, there are ditches on both sides. There’s a time for zealous indignation–to rail against that which is wrong. And there is a time for gracious showing of the light. May God help us to know the times and the seasons.

10:25 AM
Mike Pitzler said…
Jesus told Peter to put away his sword. It’s for personal protection only. When the magistrate protects, we are blessed, and when he persecutes, we endure or flee. Cromwell was commissioned by Parliament, and he brought in more toleration when he went beyond the Presbyterian Parliament. Our Constitution has separated church and state to bring us some freedoms, but they’re certainly not ‘Christian’ magistrates, just magistrates.

David’s politics, even in a theocracy, were often disasterous.
I drive on better streets than David, and the Romans at least brought better plumbing for the half-shekel. As long as paying taxes to the IRS isn’t offering incense, Caesar gets his.

ASV John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

12:12 PM


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