Ask Sanityville: Can Christians refuse to pay taxes until abortion is defunded?

(David Burchard) #1

What are y’all’s thoughts about the rightness of this man’s actions? I assume that if all Christian men behaved in kind, then tax reform would be required, as I presume the IRS lacks the ability to deal with that kind of volume.

what do you think about this?

Ask Sanityville: Who is Caesar?
(Isaiah Taylor) #2

If all Christian men behaved that way, there would be a lot of Christian men in need of repentance for not submitting to their rulers, as scripture clearly instructs them to.

(Paul Ojanen) #3

He’s no Hebrew midwife, but he’s willing to put his own skin in the game. I don’t plan to follow his chosen behavior, but let’s not dismiss him so simply. He doesn’t appear to be doing this for his own gain. And his responses show he’s thought this out more than Wesley Snipes. In fact, Mr. Bowman is being open. And peaceful civil disobedience is the lightest form of rebellion.

When rulers are repeatedly protecting, ignoring, funding murderous actions, is there no law-breaking allowed? Our founding fathers’ arguments held less water. No side of the Civil War had a stronger argument. Yet these put their consciences over man’s law.

If only nearly all Christian men did little for these orphans, then there’d be only a little fewer Christian men in need of repentance than in your hypothetical situation.

(Paul Ojanen) #4

I used to not think much of those fighting to defund Planned Parenthood. Taking away some of their funds didn’t seem like it’d be effective in stopping their operations. I changed my mind after seeing how strongly the left has reacted. There’s a good signal to send here. And a step in the direction of admitting corporate guilt.

Look how the Feds have let pot become decriminalized by lower magistrates. Or how executives have acted differently with regard to enforcement of immigration law. Could someone in the executive branch tell the IRS to not pursue those who follow Mr. Bowman’s example? Then Congress would be forced to defund, if they wanted the rest of their precious income taxes. It’s not the “right” way to go about things. I hate how often our Presidents get involved with the creation of legislation. But do the ends not justify the means sometimes? Could this be proper checks and balances?

Ellul’s philosophy of technology hits on this. He claims that our age is preoccupied with the means, with process, with rules and efficiency, with gnats; and unwilling, actually unable, to look at the ends, the intentions, the human individuals, morality.

Refusing to bake certain cakes and not working on Sunday isn’t going to Save the world. But this kind of stuff should be happening. We need more faithful fools like Mr. Bowman:

  • More Spanish priests limiting the number of mothers participating in baptisms to one
  • More county clerks risking their jobs in the defense of marriage
  • Can I have just one large corporation headquartered in Cincinnati not participate in the pride parades?

(David Burchard) #5

Submission is the rule, but are there not exceptions to the rule? Is there not a long history of Christian men defying tyrants through disobedience?

The question seems to not be if, but, rather, when, disobedience to tyrants is appropriate.

(Joseph Bayly) #6

Amen amen and amen. But two of the three examples, and i would argue all three, are not examples of civil disobedience at all.

That’s hard to take seriously when he gets to keep the money. I suspect this whole question will boil down to a debate on the claim that taxation is theft. I suspect that’s the simple filter that Isaiah was looking at this through. Governments are always doing immoral things. A simple claim that this is somehow different doesn’t really establish much.

(David Burchard) #7

What do you think of this case?

(Paul Ojanen) #8

No, they were examples of simple judgments on right/wrong, important/unimportant, apart from outside pressure.

Would it be different if he were setting it aside, or donating it? Or giving it to organizations which overlap with Planned Parenthood’s federally funded Medicare services, so as to encourage alternatives to PP? Maybe it’s defeatist to set it aside, but if I were to do what he’s doing, I’d put it somewhere outside the reach of the government but under my control so I can pay the tax bill if I lost in the end.

(Ken Lamb) #9

Child sacrifice is the height of rebellion, and one for which God actually has a prescription far worse than withholding financial support.

Whether the heart of a person, in doing so, is right, God knows…but outwardly I imagine we are on much firmer foundation showing ordinate fear of God over fear of man, when we disobey Molech and his Highpriests. Our nation state is hardly neutral in this regard, if not a high priest, it is at least a sort of deacon of Molech.

(Paul Ojanen) #10

My reaction throughout the no-tax article was that Dr. McDurmon doesn’t account for the relative lack of separation of church and state in the O.T.

What muddies a lot of this for me is the concept of money. To a fault, these days most people don’t participate in local levels of government, don’t join the army, don’t touch the sick, don’t teach children how to drive. We pay others to do it for us. We give gift cards. So on one hand, money is how we do society and government and everything these days.

But Dr. McDurmon’s ideal of a tax-free society is appealing. It’s the right direction to go.

  • It certainly sounds more like the Gospel. Donations and Medicare are insufficient ways to love neighbors and care for the sick. Jesus’s Samaritan got personal.
  • I don’t see how a city would work without some kind of pooled funds. But we have the first half of Nehemiah.
  • The nation of Israel actively did a lot together: fighting, working, gathering, complaining. And the early church did life together. There are pooled resources all over the place, but the emphasis was much more on what the people were doing. The people were so together, therefore their property. And the pooling was usually more voluntary.

Doesn’t he go too far in his literalism, restricting the government so much? His absolutism seems too extreme. I’d like to see how he approaches the duties of fathers, Christians, and others. I wonder how he defines the three spheres of family, church, government. Or something else more systematic than just a severely limited government that sounds more out of the Constitutional Conventions of the 1770s than from the Bible.

He doesn’t give room for people to define the government. But he makes a good point. Simply wanting a King was wrong. We live in an age of self-definition.

He was responding to specifics by Doug Wilson. Does he have any broader articles addressing government?

(Isaiah Taylor) #11

@projanen @daveburch @Krlamb1

Romans 13:1-7, ESV:

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

1 Peter 2:13-18:

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,
14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust

Titus 3:1:

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,

Luke 20:21-25:

21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God.
22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?”
23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them,
24 “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.”
25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

So, a seeming consensus from the scriptures. Submit to the authorities. But what of @daveburch’s question, are there not exceptions?

I don’t know, are there? That is for those who want to make exceptions to one of God’s scriptural commands needs to determine. And they need to back it up beyond the slightest doubt of conscience, since they will be clearly at conflict with a command found in various parts of scripture. That backup is incumbent upon the people who wish to defend breaking it.

Brothers, be careful. Do not put yourself in the position of demanding that your wife respect your authority, and then turn around to treat your authorities flippantly, praising those who disobey them, and not giving a rigorous scriptural defense. Like the servant who was forgiven a debt and then turned on a dime and threw his fellow servant in jail. From your comments, it seems like it is obvious to you all that a man can disobey his God-instituted authority if he don’t like what it is doing! What an idea.

Should a slave not obey his master because he sees his master is in sin for sleeping around? Should a wife not obey her husband because she sees he is embezzling? Should a churchman not pay his tithe, and not submit to his elders because that elder board wronged someone in a divorce case? Should a child disobey his parents because his dad cheated a friend in a business deal, or will not stop drinking?

Wasn’t the late government of Rome full of every kind of abuse, going so far as to kill the Son of God? And yet Christ said, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” and Paul said “Honor the emperor.”

What even is authority if it can be evaluated by those under it, and given to them to decide whether or not to follow?

As far as exceptions go, there are a few clear places where you must obey God in resistance to earthy authorities. One of these is in Acts:

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them,
28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. - Acts 5:27-29

Paul is also in and out of prison his whole life for the preaching of the gospel. So what is the ground of this exception? The reason for the exception is that these men were bound by the command of God to preach the gospel, and the command of man forbade it. God’s command should clearly win out.

But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." - Daniel 3:18

Again, Shadrach and his crew were under orders from God not to bow down, and orders from man to bow down. The command of God clearly wins.

We, on the other hand, are not in conflict of command. The government is commanding you to pay your taxes, and God commands you (without qualification of the type of government) to pay your taxes too! To disobey puts you at odds with the command of God and man.

If I am mistaken in this, please show me. But what does it mean of our generation that we so breezily discuss willful disobedience of our God-set authorities? If a husband embezzles, the guilt is not on his wife but himself. If she disobeys him, that guilt is on her. If a slave disobeys a master in response to his sin, the master’s sin is on his own head, and the slave’s disobedience is on his. If you disobey your government for its sin, the sin is on the head of that government, and your disobedience to it is on yours.

(Ken Lamb) #12

Leviticus 20:2
“You shall also say to the sons of Israel:
‘Any man from the sons of Israel or from the aliens sojourning in Israel who gives any of his offspring to Molech, shall surely be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones.

(Joseph Bayly) #13

Please fill out your case. If you are simply saying that the government and all others who participate in abortion are in sin, then you won’t find any disagreement, so you must mean something more.

(Ken Lamb) #14

Well, I’d love to do some research and provide a nice buttoned up thesis on it, but you’ll instead have to settle for what follows. I just have too much to do in the morning. Sorry.

My case isn’t for anarchy or for tax evasion, but rather that the command which God has for this abomination is vastly contradictory to the commands of the state.
One can’t cite normative standards of what government is called to be and also then declare that government can therefore be no more than that.

Government is called to be a terror to the wicked and a promoter of righteousness, it is called to not bear the sword in vain. Those are normative not indicative of all governments. We know that government is often a terror to the righteous and promoter of wickedness.

Especially in this day of direct democracy, many people under the guise that majority opinion carries a moral imperative, would absolutely support a Romans 13 reading as long as their man is in power. These people are no different than the Israelites who demanded a king to be like other nations, so that God would not be their king. This is the essence of idolatry.

So, a proper exegesis of Romans 13 must never supply a moral imperative by virtue of power, but only by virtue of revelation. This does not mean that every fallen authority must be disregarded, but rather that their every act is certainly not sanctified as a universal reading of Romans 13 would imply.

I’m still struggling with understanding the theological implications of the American Civil War…but also the Reformation. I understand that it is all very well and convenient for us to feel justified in rebellion, but the same is true of those who hold power.

As someone with a certain level of governing authority over a great many people, I am always guarding to ensure that the rightness of my work does not start and end at my position but based on what is pleasing to the Lord.

(Joseph Bayly) #15

Agreed. But you’ve not answered @iptaylor’s point, which is that governments have always been doing such things and yet we are told to pay taxes to them anyway. To be quite clear, they use our tax money for all sorts of immoral things. It is probably just a truism that there has never been a time when taxes were collected and none of them were used for terribly wicked things. So how is this case different?

(Ken Lamb) #16

Again, I said I’m not arguing for tax evasion. But I’m not keen on equivocating about whether God’s Sovereign will to ordain a particular government, means that his moral will is to be put aside. Also to say that there is no conflict truly denies the complicity of the people who choose their Kings for themselves. No doubt what the people intend for evil God will superintend for good.

John Speed a bookstore owner speaking before a city counsel in NY shut down his book store for a day to lull sales taxes to the city and then proclaimed that all taxes paid subsequent to that were purely under duress. I find this form of protest very appropriate.

But as for being commanded to pay taxes, Jesus is not so clear, render unto God that which is God’s. What isn’t God’s exactly? The fact that the money given for the tax had Cesar’s picture on it, would have been to the shame of everyone that recalls 1 Samuel 8.

I consider also the threatening and even violence God’s servants have delivered to tyrants in scripture. Moses was not the least among these threats. Clearly, he went with specific anointing by God, but that doesn’t undue that God was overturning through a mere man Pharoh’s right to his own slaves.

I consider Ehud, the left handed assassin who delivered God’s people from a tyrant violently. Tyrants may rule with the permission of God for a time, but they are not his anointed are they?

Anyways, again, I’m not an anarchist, or even an activist, but I think we ought to be withholding judgement against those who are clearly resisting evil.

I would look to their fruit…this would be true of the natural man:

Romans 3:10-17 (NASB Strong’s)
10 as it is written,
“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood,
16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
17 And the path of peace they have not known.”

But if their words and deeds boldly proclaim truth well we should consider:

Ephesians 6:13-17
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Anyways, that’s all I can offer for now, a busy day awaits, maybe l’ll revisit it this weekend.

(Paul Ojanen) #17

With regard to rebellion, we’re discussing a very narrow goal here: stopping abortion, or raising awareness to that end. And a narrow example of rather passive civil disobedience.

This raises questions I hadn’t thought of before.

I was going to say our discussion involves stopping murder, caring for orphans and the least of these. But then I think about what I’ve heard about the early Christians saving the discarded Roman newborns or the Israelites v. Molech. Never heard of Christians protesting the Colosseum or actively stopping Romans from exposing their unwanted newborns; rather, the story I hear is that they only saved the survivors they found. Then in the O.T., the only idol destruction I can think of were done by high authorities, Kings and prophets.

I know to pay taxes, regardless. And to not terrorize or vandalize Planned Parenthood.

The reason I don’t protest often nor pray for this every day is because I don’t believe it’s that effective. That’s my fault. I should be praying more. And if every Christian prayed about this more diligently, yes, something would happen. If every Christian protested weekly…no need to disobey the gov’t to make a statement. It would be helpful.

Is that really all there is to do? To preach, counsel, argue, pray, … towards Christians taking legal means of correcting the government’s most terrible actions and inactions? For abortion and other things to be brought out into the light at work, in the neighborhood, at the grocery store. I’m not talking about merely wearing T-Shirts and sporting bumper stickers, but also about discussing these things with believers and unbelievers.

I believe it would be enough, but I admit it’s not satisfying for me.

I want to praise the vandalizers and tax evaders. I want to act in a more effective and less illegal way. But if I’m not praying and protesting, then I need to settle down, I shouldn’t be rebelling. That comes only after patiently and fervently exhausting most legal means, which is a high bar to set.

So we need to be careful about looking up to men like Mr. Bowman. He may be unnecessarily rebelling. He may be personally gaining from his righteous-seeming acts. And we need to be careful about looking down on men like Mr. Bowman. He’s doing something, are we? Let’s improve on his example.

(Paul Ojanen) #18

Dr. McDurmon seems too extreme, but he’s calling Christians to think outside the box, to start tax-free communities. That’s realistic at the local levels.

I’ve yet to meet a public school principal who didn’t welcome adult volunteers. If you’re being refused, find a more dangerous school. Many teachers would find more relief from a second adult in the classroom than from a tax hike to raise salaries.

(Paul Ojanen) #19

I can’t vouch for Mr. Bowman’s sincerity, but he’s being very particular. He’s not rebelling in general. His rebellion is specific. The government immorality he’s fighting is specific. And he’s made a connection between his rebellion and the authority’s sin. He’s tied his paying of taxes to forced participation in abortion. It’s indirect, it’s not an argument I’m making right now for myself, but it’s not unreasonable.

(Isaiah Taylor) #20

@projanen thanks for the thoughtful response. I agree that it is not unreasonable in the sense of surface perception; but I also disagree, because a reasoned treatment of scripture shows that it is a well intentioned but, all the same, sinful action. His rebellion is specific, true; but Christ specifically prohibited that kind of rebellion.

@Krlamb1 you should circle back on this when you have the time to put together a reasoned argument. The two you have given so far fall short badly and I’m sure are unworthy of your ability to evaluate scripture.