I am having an ethical dilemma. As leader of the Catholic Church, perhaps you have some answers.
I know you must be very busy leading, writing and speaking. If you do not have time to respond to my questions I will understand.
My dilemma: I pay income tax. Millions die because of the actions of the US government to promote and pay for abortion, Euthanasia, and war, which is paid for in part by my taxes. Should I cut my income and live on less so that I do not owe taxes and do not support abortion, euthanasia, and war by paying taxes? Am I morally culpable if I do not cut my income?
Many Christians earn a great deal of money. How does the church justify its members earning a larger than necessary income and paying taxes on that extra income, taxes part of which are used to promote abortion, euthanasia, and war?
My assumption is that the teachings and example of Jesus are the final authority on how people should live on this earth. Here is some of my thinking.
Military Service and War
Paying taxes that pay for war has been bothering me for some time. I have been doing research on a Christian position of war. Many Christians feel that supporting and participating in the military and war are acceptable Christian actions.
There seems to be nothing that I can find in the teachings and example of Jesus, the apostles and the first-century church that would allow Christians to participate in abortion, euthanasia, and war. There are many teachings and examples that demonstrate violence by Christians is wrong.
It seems that Jesus would teach us to pay taxes if we owe them, but it would be perfectly acceptable to avoid owing them in the first place by cutting our income. Do we have a duty to avoid owing taxes?
Jesus said, 18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22.
Paul said, 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Romans 13.
One person told me I should not worry about the ethical implications of paying taxes and that I should make as much money as possible so that I could give more money to the church and missionaries. This seems like faulty logic. God owns the cattle of a thousand hills. He doesn’t need us to make money for him. Why would God ask me to finance killing on one hand so that I can finance the spread of the gospel of the Prince of Peace on the other?
Jesus said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26, 27
On the way to the cross, Jesus used no violence against evil. Why should we? We are commanded to carry our cross. If we follow Jesus’ command to carry our cross and we follow the example of Jesus, we cannot participate in violence while carrying our cross. Is earning unnecessary income and paying more taxes participating in violence?
Paul said, 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12. NIV
The Christian’s duty is to win souls for Jesus and to feed the hungry and visit the prisoner and love their enemies. The world and governments control violence with violence. Governments do not dispense true justice. The judicial system does not dispense true justice. Justice is making things right. In most situations, the best governments can do is take revenge. Only God knows how to make things right and only God is capable of dispensing true justice.
Mercy can be defined as not punishing when punishment is deserved. Grace can be defined as giving a good gift that is not deserved. A Christian’s job is to give mercy and grace just as Jesus gave us mercy and grace. The justice we are to dispense is to help those who have been harmed to overcome the effects of evil against them. Violence creates more harm and creates roadblocks against forgiveness. Helping the harmed is how we fight against the spiritual forces of evil. We can only be involved in government so long as we do not break God’s law.
James said, what causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:1 & 2
Paul said 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:3 & 4.
Are we trusting the military and this world instead of God?
Military recruitment advertisements say the military is fighting for everyone. I do not want the military to fight for me. Am I giving my approval for the military to do these things for me when I pay taxes?
Is the US in danger? The US is fighting a 40-year war for cheap oil. Wherever our troops are stationed a booming sex industry flourishes. Abortion is rampant. Bombing, maiming, and killings occur every day. Many in America trust crystals for healing and speak to the dead. Many Americans trust the government, military, and police for physical protection.
Many Americans trust government entitlement programs for daily food and Obamacare for medical care instead of turning to Jesus and the Church. Are Americans worshiping idols of wealth, pleasure and power? The Assyrians took Israel into captivity. Babylon took Judah into captivity. Will America be taken into captivity?
Abortion and Euthanasia
Abortion and Euthanasia are obviously unethical and my letter is too long. I will not discuss the ethical reasons that I am opposed to paying for abortion and euthanasia.
I have many more arguments against Christian’s participating in violence and zero good arguments in favor of Christians participating in violence. My letter is already too long and I will stop.
What am I missing about the thinking of Christians who say Christian violence and Christian’s paying for violence is acceptable?
Please point out any errors in my thinking.
Perhaps you can point out further reading that may be helpful to me?
Fargo ND 58103
Professor Ardell Caneday of the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota, Professor of New Testament Studies and Greek made this comment.
Copyright © 2018 by Jon Kauffman Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.