I get it. As someone who used to consider myself a libertarian at one point, I get where you’re coming from. You don’t like paying taxes, and the government shouldn’t force you to pay them. And I know it’s edgy and cool for the memelord libertarians to remind everybody of what they think about our current tax structure; especially considering that everybody is focused on paying their taxes right now. But as far as those Christian brothers and sisters who consider themselves libertarian, we need to chat. Because I don’t think you can prove your “taxation is theft” Biblically. In fact I think if you take your premise to its furthest conclusion, you’ll find that your statement is far from what is Biblically acceptable.
First off, let’s just start with the obvious: Scripture doesn’t say that it is. Nowhere in Scripture are taxes equated with theft. They just aren’t. Often in Scripture other sins are equated with another. Hated is equated with murder. Lust is equated with adultery. But never do we see taxation as equated with theft. In fact when asked “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar,” Christ has a chance to outright condemn it. Here it is. Black (or Red) and white for all of us to know for sure. But Christ doesn’t condemn taxation. Rather, He calls for His believers to “render unto Caesar.”
Now of course some will say, “But how much is Caesar’s? What’s the percentage?” But listen to the heart of the question. The heart is not concerned with obedience to God and submission to the governing authorities that He has set in place. Rather it is like the nervous high school student during a True Love Waits lesson in Wednesday Night Youth lesson: What can I get away with? This is not what we are called to practice. Rather, it is putting our political desires above the Word of God.
Not only is Scripture silent on the morality of taxation itself, it does not condemn those tax collectors who collect fairly. Stick with me, we’re about to connect the dots real quick. Let’s assume the Libertarian manta is Biblically true. I’m going to give you this as a test of validity: Taxation is theft. What does that make tax collectors? Thieves. That’s the simple answer. Now we have an instance (Luke 3:12) where Tax collectors come to John the Baptizer and ask him, “What should we do?” or to modernize it, “How should we live?” So here it is, the thieves have come to John and asked them what to do. But John doesn’t tell them, “Get a new job” but rather to collect only what is owed. Don’t lie or swindle people to line your own pockets. So does John excuse sin? Does he advise people to willfully continue breaking the Ten Commandments? Christ does a similar thing in Luke 19:1-10. He doesn’t admonish the tax collector to leave his job. Rather he says that salvation has come to his house. Does Christ excuse or justify blatant sin? Either taxation is theft or Christ is OK with sinners continuing to sin. You decide how you want to answer that question.
Until then, Paul writes to us to pay our taxes because God has placed the government over us (Rom 13:7) I know that’s not fun for the libertarian to hear. I know it’s hard. The mantra is dead. Taxation isn’t theft. Maybe it’s time we give it up for a more Biblical understanding of our duty to each other.