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Libertarian Debate

Libertarians vs. Jesus: Are All Taxes Theft?

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These are dark times for thoughtful Christian voters. Faced with the likelihood of two amoral nominees from the major parties, it’s natural for us to look for another alternative – perhaps from the Libertarian party. Unfortunately, libertarians continue to disqualify themselves to anyone concerned about godly government.

Recently I watched a debate between five Libertarian Party candidates. One after another they repeated, as if reciting a catechism: “All taxes are theft.” (You can skip to the 47-minute mark in the video to see this.) Then, after calling any tax a crime, most of them proposed some kind of tax.

The slogan “All taxes are theft” is anti-Christian as well as un-American.

As one candidate mentioned, the Pilgrims were the first to try socialism in America, and so the first to see it fail. But Governor Bradford’s record of the Plymouth Plantation clearly shows that, in his view, socialism was only the proximate cause, not the root cause, of their near-death experience. He identified the fundamental flaw as, “…the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. (Emphasis added)

FDR decided that God surely didn’t have all the facts when He gave families and churches, rather than government, the task of caring for the poor and the elderly. Eighty years later, the country is groaning under the heavy yoke of his national Ponzi scheme.

JFK and LBJ thought they knew better than Christ, who had flatly stated that the poor will always be with us. In their arrogance they promised to “end poverty.” Marxists today don’t like to talk about that. But fifty years and 20,000,000,000,000 tax dollars later, not only are the poor are still with us, but there are more of them than ever.

Libertarians, apparently having learned nothing from these malodorous monuments to human hubris, now beg to correct Jesus on the matter of taxes.

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, NAS95 – see parallel passages in Mark 12 and Luke 20)

His audience, who had grown up hearing that men and women are made “in the image of God,” would have understood Him perfectly. The face on the coin is Caesar’s, therefore the coin is not yours, but Caesar’s. The image stamped on you is God’s image, so you are not yours, but God’s. (Note that libertarians oppose Christ on both of those points.) It was Jesus’ enemies that charged Him with preaching tax revolt. And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” (Luke 23:2) The followers of Christ have always paid taxes. There is no ambiguity on this:

Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection [to the civil authorities], not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:5-7)

Justin Martyr wrote to the Emperor in his First Apology: “And everywhere we [Christians], more readily than all men, endeavour to pay to those appointed by you the taxes both ordinary and extraordinary, as we have been taught by Him….”

If all taxes are theft, yet Christ instructed us to pay taxes, then Jesus condoned theft. This is blasphemy by implication.

Some taxes are theft, of course. And some taxes are unfair, deceptive, unjust, or all of the above. Some just taxes are used for unjust purposes. But when we cross the line into condemning all taxes, we’ve gone beyond even the atheist Thomas Paine, who said of Americans, “Their taxes are few because their government is just.”

One of the Libertarian candidates asserted that George Washington instituted a government lottery. I’m not sure it was a government lottery, but in any case, I wonder whether that candidate is aware of this Washington quote: “It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a free Government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even his personal services to the defence of it….” – Letter to Alexander Hamilton, 1783. Washington did like lotteries, but he didn’t believe that “all taxes are theft.” Indeed, none of the Founders, who fought a war over taxes (among other things) believed that taxation itself is inherently criminal.

The libertarian who says, “All taxes are theft” is rowing the same boat as the barbarian who says he will “end poverty.” He may pride himself in being as far from the socialist as possible on the political spectrum, but he’s committing the same basic error. It was the error of the Great Society and the error of Plymouth and the error of Eden. It isn’t Socialism or Fascism – those are only byproducts or corollaries. It’s “Smarter-Than-God-ism.” And it’s destroying America



 

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