My Ethical Dilemma: Letter to Pope Francis

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?

Jon Kauffman
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.

Caneday, Ardel B <>
Mon 9/17/2018, 1:25 PM
You are not alone with your ethical dilemma. It is necessary for every Christian to engage the same dilemma. Lamentably, many do not give the ethical issue much thought if any. I had to process the issues long ago. It is the age-old question asked of Jesus, whether to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus’ answer stands true to this day, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” Of course, in truth, what belongs to Caesar also belongs to God.
So, your ethical dilemma will not be resolved by refusing to pay taxes, income or other kinds of taxes, and there are many ways you pay taxes to government entities.
You also do not resolve your ethical dilemma by reducing your taxable income. If you reduce your income you may reduce your tax liability, but you are still obligated to pay your taxes. You have not resolved your ethical dilemma. All that you have accomplished is to reduce your income and reduce the amount of funds from your earnings that the government will have to use on whatever nefarious causes it deems suitable. To reduce one’s income deliberately for such a notion runs contrary to all that is right, good, and Christian.
Here is the resolution to your ethical dilemma. It is really quite short and quite simple. You are not accountable for how governing officials use the tax dollars that you pay whether at a municipal level, a county level, a state level, or a federal level. Those who govern are accountable for their implementation of tax dollars. Of course, at every level of taxation, there is abominable waste. You are not accountable for that. You are also not accountable for the redistribution of your tax dollars to people who scheme and scam welfare programs. The same is true whether your tax dollars go to fund unconstitutional and unethical wars. Likewise, if moneys that you submit in the form of taxation go to fund abortions, you are not accountable for that.
If we do not acknowledge these truths and live in keeping with these truths, we will drive ourselves mad. Some have done so because they fail to understand that we are accountable only for what we endorse by our actions and with our resources. Any Christian has to go through the same process to serve within government at any level. A Christian county commissioner who votes against an immoral project that requires expenditures taken from tax dollars is not accountable for the immoral project if it passes on the votes of other commissioners.
I trust that this will set your mind at ease.
Professor Caneday, you make some excellent points. However, my question remains. Am I morally culpable if I do not cut my income if I can afford to live on less?
At what point does our income reach a level where we are actually contributing to this problem? Professor Antony Davies from Duquesne University produce a Youtube video call 10 Myths about the Government Debt. Professor Davies demonstrates that our income must reach nearly $90,000 per family for our income to reach a point where our effective tax rate is 0%. Below $90,000 income the amount we receive in Social Security, Subsidies and other government benefits exceeds what we pay in for taxes.
Perhaps to reach the point where we are actually paying enough taxes to contribute to the problem of unjust spending we must earn in excess of $90,000 per year.
If we follow the advice of Jesus concerning the poor, how much in taxes will we pay?

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