“No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”— John 10:18
The “it” Jesus is talking about in the above passage from the Gospel of John is, of course, his life. But there are lessons to be gleaned here for other issues, such as the current debate about tax cuts and what is or isn’t biblical about them.
Namely: True acts of love, compassion, and charity cannot be compelled by force. They must be freely chosen, even by Jesus himself, when he bore his grisly and torturous cross.
So when it comes to helping the poor, it should immediately offend the reason of honest thinkers when we are told that the tax plan approved by the U.S. Senate is a moral terror unfit for a Bible-believing people. This charge is made by the same leftists who don’t believe the Bible, of course, and desire to have government punish those who actually do.
But I digress.
Tax rates aren’t charity. They are confiscatory. And as such they are not a pure matter of moral absolutes freely chosen, but something closer to the moral compromise embodied by Aristotle’s golden mean.
We trade some of our liberty for a nebulous vision of security because, with thanks to James Madison, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” And in that equation, perhaps the most moral variable is respecting the need for compromise in the first place. That is, unless you are a progressive.
If you possess that worldview, tax policy has all the moral force of the burning bush. Raise taxes and you are a Mosaic deliverer. Cut them and you are a cut-throat pharaoh. The raw emotion of such a charge is why it can be so challenging to debate progressives in short soundbites. But this is where they simply must be asked why and how they are so comfortable believing that they care more about the poor than God does.
To that end, God’s tax plan is actually very simple and not some arcane chestnut of Levitical law. Step 1: Everyone pays the same rate. Step 2: Everyone writes the check themselves.
That’s it. That’s all there is. Two easy steps to funding law, order, and care for the poor.
As for the rate, that would be 10 percent, a fact that was actually codified into American law for much of history, because God-fearing lawmakers rightly saw it as an act of folly for the government to demand more of the taxpayers than God did of His people.
Now go render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. According to the parable of the talents, that’s the true path for lifting up rich and poor alike. And it is what rescued the Pilgrims from their early flights of utopian fancy, when they nearly starved those first winters at Plymouth Rock while trying to do civilization Bernie Sanders-style.
It wasn’t until they followed Jesus’ own words in Matthew 25:14-30 instead, a spirit-filled initiative that acknowledges God’s gifts and commandments for what they are, that the Pilgrims fulfilled their prophetic mission and had the profits required to fund the common good.
In God’s economy, the rich do pay more, because much is required from those to whom much is given. However, since God is no respecter of persons and commands that we are not to covet each other’s blessings, everyone paid the same rate regardless of economic class. Since God loves everyone equally, everyone is taxed at the same rate. But since the wealthy have more to give, 10 percent to them means more actual funds than 10 percent of the widow’s mite.
But to progressivism, people are not individuals fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. Rather, they are collectives — classes of people to be lumped together or pitted against each other, depending on what benefits progressivism.
In one model, you are loved and provided for by the most powerful being in the universe. In the other, you place your fate in the capricious hands of history’s losers.
Choose ye this day whom you will serve.