Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Does a Christian have to pay taxes if the government is evil and corrupt?

The Bible deals with this question in many different places. 

First, understand that during the time of Christ and in the early years of the church, that the Roman government was very evil and immoral. The ungodly sexual appetites of those in positions of power is well documented as as is the severe persecution that many early Christians faced by the hands of the government. With this in mind, if the Bible supports paying taxes to such an evil governmental system, the principle would also apply today.

Second, Jesus taught the necessity of paying taxes. Note the following passages.
When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. “However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” (Matthew 17:24-27).
Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. “Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? “Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away. (Matthew 22:15-22)
Third, the Apostle Paul taught the necessity of obeying our government. In his letter to the church in Rome he writes:
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. (Romans 13:1-2)
In the context of submitting to governmental rule he also mentions “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due...” (Romans 13:7).

Conclusion: We may often be displeased or even mortified by the actions of those in power. Many times our government will promote actions that are contrary to God’s will. Scripture, however, teaches the necessity of paying taxes to our government (not matter how corrupt) if it is required by law.

By Cliff Sabroe - Scripture quotes from New American Standard Bible 1995