Should Christians Pay Taxes After Obamacare? What about Government-Sanctioned Torture?

Albert Mohler, conservative Christian commentator (both theologically and politically), wrote an article the other day entitled, "Render Unto Caesar? On Paying Taxes After Obamacare."
__A significant number of Christians are now wondering about the moral implications of the Obama health care overhaul...
__So, should Christians defy the government and refuse to pay taxes if some involvement in abortion is almost certain? The answer to that question reaches far beyond the issue of abortion — and far beyond the question of taxation. The answer to that question must be "no."
Mohler then makes the biblical case that even when our government takes taxes for things we find reprehensible, Christians are obligated to pay them. He cites Romans 13, 1 Peter 2:13-14, and Mark 12:17 ("Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.")

He ends the commentary with this:
__Abortion is a moral catastrophe. The murder of the unborn is one of the greatest sins any society can tolerate, much less subsidize by taxation. The impact of the new “Obamacare” health care legislation is not yet fully clear, but the legislation lacks any adequate protection for the unborn. Immorality is added to immorality when the power of the government to tax and confiscate the funds of citizens is involved in such a catastrophe.
__For this reason, Christian citizens should be involved at every level in the political process, seeking to use legitimate means to establish full protection for the unborn and for all other vulnerable persons. Elections have consequences, and this new legislation is a reminder of the power of government to do both good and evil.
__But to refuse to pay taxes is to deny the legitimacy of the government itself, and to declare it beyond political remedy. Even to Christians suffering under the repressive, murderous, and dictatorial yoke of Rome, Jesus instructed the payment of taxes. Caesar, Christ knew, will one day face the judgment of Almighty God. Rome would one day be brought under his own feet and made subject to him.
__We do not “render unto Caesar” because of our confidence in Caesar. We render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, because we are committed with our lives and confidence and consciences to render unto God that which is God’s.
I fully agree with Mohler's reasoning for our obligation to pay taxes, as well as his concerns about how the new legislation may allow for the subsidizing of abortions through our tax dollars.

But what troubles me is that what prompted Mohler to write about the Christian obligation to pay taxes was the passing of the Health Care Reform Bill (what Mohler derogatorily called "Obamacare"). He started his commentary with, "A significant number of Christians are now wondering about the moral implications of the Obama health care overhaul."

During the Bush presidency, why weren't a "significant number of Christians" writing to Mohler concerned about how their tax dollars were being used by the government to torture people?

I credit Mohler for siding with John McCain on his push for an amendment banning torture to a Defense Authorization Bill back in 2005, rejecting Charles Krauthammer's argument that the hypothetical "ticking time bomb" scenario legitimizes the use of torture.

However, in 2007, Al Mohler (president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) sided with one of his ethics professors at the seminary, Daniel R. Heimbach, when he spoke out against the National Association of Evangelicals' statement against the use of torture. Mohler said, "I would argue that we cannot condone torture by codifying a list of exceptional situations in which techniques of torture might be legitimately used. At the same time, I would also argue that we cannot deny that there could exist circumstances in which such uses of torture might be made necessary.” (see the Baptist Press coverage of this story)

Could it really be true that Southern Baptists see torture as "necessary" and thus are okay with our tax dollars being used to do such atrocious acts, but are so angry about the health care bill that they don't want to pay taxes anymore?

If you are a Southern Baptist, I hope this doesn't reflect your values.


glfredrick said...

Perhaps you are taking some of these ideas out of context. "Torture" is a word that is rather heavily weighted and can be used in more than one way, as we have amply seen in the media debate on the issue during the recent battles against terrorism.

When enemy combatants, not covered under the Geneva Convention code because of their own violations of that same code, submit to the world that their members may have been "tortured" are we to automatically take their side in the issue? What if their intent is to burn to the ground cities full of innocent civilians with no remorse?

There may need be some "special" occasions when extraordinary means are used to extract information from those enemy combatants to do the greater good. I do not notice that those same enemy combatants have any greater ethic or morality when it comes to their treatment of our own citizens and soldiers taken hostage or captured in the act of battle, so whence the double standard?

A quick survey of Romans 13 shows that human governments have authorities far greater than any individual citizen, and that yes, those governments may do some things that would go beyond the bounds of our own personal ethics. That is precisely why we as citizens of the United States of America ought to exercise our rights to place into power those leaders and representatives that will best protect and preserve our liberties, including our right to serve and worship God freely -- something our enemy in this conflict wishes, with all their collective hearts (or lack thereof) to remove.

Anonymous said...

This gets into many things, but a general look at Romans 13, I believe, puts the greater onus on those defending "health care reform" as part of the civil magistrates "ministry". The ministry of the civil magistrates is not one of grace, but of wrath. They bear the sword to execute wrath upon the evil doer. They do not bear the sacraments. They do not bear water or bread & wine. They, except in a particular sense, do not come with healing in their wings. Christians are not to torture, but, instead, leave room for God's wrath (Rom. 12). How does God's wrath come in? Through the civil magistrates (Rom. 13). So, is "torture" part of their ministry of wrath? If one of our soldiers used the sword of Iraqi or Afghani to cut off their head, would we think that is inhuman and unjust? If a man of God had the ability to call down some bears to maul some children, would you think that was torturous?

I believe that most Christians, especially those engrossed in "social justice", are governed by humanism and humanistic notions of right, wrong, justice & injustice. If I was to expound the Book of the Covenant in the presence of most Christians, then cries of injustice would abound. Our notions of justice aren't derived from the Scriptures, but vague principles and what we believe the implications of those principles are rather the Scriptures.

So, no, I didn't support W's war in Iraq, at least after about '03ish, but it is a red-herring to bring the two issues into the same discussion. The role of the civil magistrates is to execute wrath upon evil doers. When they seek to go beyond this role, then they should be defrocked. Just as a pastor should be defrocked if he was going beyond his ministry.