Would Jesus support taxing the rich? Last week, President Obama implied that he would. Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama expressed his reluctance to ask seniors, young people, or the middle class to shoulder the burden of our nation’s mounting debt. But, as someone who’s been “extraordinarily blessed,” Obama professed his willingness to “give up some of the tax breaks” he enjoys. He added that doing so coincides with Jesus’ directive: “Unto whom much is given, much shall be required.”
But, is this a legitimate application of this principle? I don’t think so. First of all, Jesus in this passage is encouraging believers to steward their resources well. But, giving more money to the government because it’s amassed a humongous debt isn’t really good stewardship. In truth, it just enables the government to continue its irresponsible spending – and not just irresponsible. Some of our government’s spending is immoral. For example, each year the federal government gives about 350-million dollars to Planned Parenthood – the largest abortion provider in the country. You see, not only do the rich need to consider their responsibility to steward the much they’ve been given; our government needs to consider its responsibility, as well.
Still, the question remains, does this passage in Luke give the government the right to tax its rich citizens more than it does its poor? Actually, this passage doesn’t apply to taxation at all. It simply asserts that Jesus requires much from those He’s given much – Jesus, not the IRS! So, if President Obama feels led to pay more in taxes, that’s between him and God. But, asserting that this passage gives the government license to tax the rich disproportionately is unfounded.
Personally, I’ve always favored a flat tax. After all, in the Old Testament, God required all His people – rich and poor – to pay a 10-percent tithe. This resulted in the rich paying more; but, it also ensured that everyone paid their fair share. Still, I wouldn’t assert that this is what Jesus would do. All Jesus actually said on the topic is “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”