Category Archives: Government

The Blueberry Story

An Indictment of the Graduated Income Tax, Welfare, and Inflation

Blueberry painting is Copyright (c) 2014 L.E. Beal

Andrew stood up slowly, letting the muscles in his back and down the backs of his legs relax.  For hours he had been bent over, sweeping his blueberry rake from side to side, pulling the tiny fruits from their bushes and often working to free the rake from the ferns and other plants that conspired to hinder his progress.  He had filled bucket after bucket with berries and leaves, then dumped them into the winnowing machine that used a large fan to blow away the chaff, letting the berries drop unhindered into one large plastic box after another.  His crew chief, Ted, dutifully recorded the incoming boxes for each of the rakers, then tallied them up at the end of their full day of work—and a full day it was, stretching from early morning when rakers’ feet are wet with dew until late afternoon when their necks are burned from the intense heat of the sun.

While Andrew walked stiffly, empty buckets and rake in hand, toward a shaded area, Ted scanned down his list.  Andrew had the best day overall with 120 boxes.  His younger sister Janet did nearly as well with 100.  He looked down toward the bottom and saw William’s and Archie’s names.  The crew chief liked William’s determination.  He worked as hard as he could, but he walked with a severe limp and was missing his left arm from the elbow down.  He still ended the day with 40 boxes, all of them well earned in spite of his physical challenges.  And Archie…well, he hadn’t shown up the last three days in a row, but he had just called with another excuse and an apology and said he intended to be back at work tomorrow.

Seeing the inequality evident in his numbers, Ted took his pencil and crossed out Andrew’s 120 boxes, instead writing down 90 and adding the other 30 to Archie’s previous zero.  He looked at Janet’s 100, crossed that out too and wrote down 80, adding her boxes to William’s to bring him to 60.

Upon hearing his new total, William was thankful, but he didn’t realize that his boxes had been taken from his friend Janet.  And when Ted called to tell Archie, Archie simply wondered why the chief hadn’t given him more as he had intended to get up and go to work each of the last three days, but something always seemed to come up.  He didn’t particularly care that his boxes had been taken from Andrew—since Andrew had more than he needed anyway.  He was mostly concerned that Andrew still had 60 more boxes than he had himself.  Andrew is no better than I am, Archie thought.  Why should he have more boxes credited to his account?  There must be some inherent bias in the system.

Andrew and Janet knew how hard they’d worked, and they’d both kept careful track of how many boxes they’d raked.  So they recognized immediately that they had been cheated.  The siblings were disgusted and wondered why they had spent those extra hours in the hot sun just to receive no benefit from them.  They had noticed William’s diligence through the day and would have been happy to share out of their abundance if they had thought he had a particular need.  And they had noticed, too, Archie’s repeated absences, but they had no inclination to help him until he had learned to help himself.  Andrew and Janet were outraged that Ted presumed to know better than they how to allocate the fruits of their labors, both in deciding how much to give and to whom.  After pleading their case with Ted to no avail, and after consulting their parents, they went to visit Ted’s supervisor and then headed home for the night.1

Because Andrew and Janet had reported Ted’s theft to his supervisor, Ted was given a stern warning the next morning, but it was not stern enough to make him give up his shenanigans.  He decided instead that he would take a different tack in trying to help out William and Archie.

Archie still didn’t make it out to the fields that day, but William, Janet, and Andrew again worked hard and matched their actual totals from the day before (40, 100, and 120 boxes, respectively).  Rather than take any boxes from Andrew’s and Janet’s totals, however, the crew chief opted instead to just add 35 boxes for William (since he had shown up and worked diligently) and 30 for Archie (since he reportedly would have worked if he hadn’t lost a shoe), bringing them up to 75 and 30 boxes.  Ted figured that since there was no loss to Andrew and Janet, there would be no reason this time for them to complain.  Unfortunately, however, when the day’s boxes of berries were processed, there was only the same weight of berries as there had been the day before, so management decided that the boxes must not have been full.  Being fairly astute, the factory’s owner had no desire to pay a full wage for partial work.  Since the reported 325 boxes only weighed as much as the previous day’s 260 boxes, the factory paid 20% less for each box, leaving Andrew and Janet to receive only 80% of what they were expecting for the second day’s work. 

On the third day, Archie neither showed up nor called to explain.  William still raked his 40 boxes.  As for Andrew and Janet. . . they each raked 40 boxes, then walked off the fields at noon and headed for home.2

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Copyright © 2020

Notes:

1. In the first part of our story, we see the wonders of the progressive income tax and the welfare system.  Andrew raked the most, so he had the highest percentage taken.  Janet was second and lost a bit less than her brother.  William and Archie lost nothing.  And, of what was taken, it went to subsidize those who either earned less or didn’t work at all.  And in reality, if he had been a government bureaucrat, Ted would have also skimmed off a fair share to cover the costs of administering his program of taxation and redistribution.

2. In the second part of our story, we see the effects of inflation.  Because more boxes were recorded than fruit that was harvested, each box was worth proportionately less.  It reduced the value of each the workers’ boxes and became just another avenue of wealth redistribution.  Likewise, when currency is printed and injected into the economy far faster than excess new goods are produced, each dollar in circulation suddenly becomes worth less—whether it is in your purse or wallet, hidden in your mattress, or even saved for the future in your bank account.  Just like Ted’s addition of fictional boxes, inflation (whether called “quantitative easing” or “increasing the size of the money supply”) is simply a more covert form of theft—hidden, but still insidiously devaluing others’ property.

How does God feel about government-driven inflation?  He tells us in Leviticus 19:35-36,  “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.  Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.”

What Can I Do?

Kudos to our youngest daughter for drawing the political cartoon for this article
after the style of Vic Lockman.

As we have lately seen American heroes being torn from their pedestals, have watched the rioting, looting, and destruction in the streets, and have witnessed the call for anarchy from a relative few result in the disarming of our police, there is an uncomfortable heaviness that has fallen upon many, a sense of hopelessness, a realization that there seems little we can do to right the wrongs.  In one sense that is true—there is little we can do.  Marxist and Communist ideals have been embraced by the politicians and by the populace for a long time, and it is the culminating of those ideals that we are seeing played out today on the American stage.  But if there is yet a little we can do, let us at least do that.  Let our legacy as individuals and as families be that while all Hell moved to destroy our nation, our people, and our founding principles, there were a few godly men, women, and children who cared enough to stand, to intercede, to be willing to lay down their lives in trying to restore morality and liberty for their posterity (for of course, one cannot have liberty without morality—that has become self-evident at this point in our history).

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. 
(Proverbs 31:8)

The place that we have the most power to change anything and to influence those around us is in our own lives and the lives of our families, our neighbors, and our friends.  Let us begin, then, where we can actually make some progress.  Let us begin by taking a long look in the mirror.  Where do I find Marxism and Communism in my life, in my home, in my community?  Don’t be tempted to believe that you won’t find it there, friend.  It’s there.  We are the people.  If it wasn’t in our hearts and in our lives, it wouldn’t be the strong force that it is in America today.  It is real, it is there, and it must be rooted out. 

How do I identify it?  How do I know what I need to change?

I think for many of us, “Communism” and “Marxism” are vague ideologies.  We might know that they are wrong and sound un-American, but we don’t really know how to define them.  Because we cannot define them, we cannot identify their tenets either.  And if we cannot identify something, we do not know when it has become part and parcel of our own thinking.  Karl Marx, the Father of Communism, laid out “ten planks of Communism” in his book The Communist Manifesto.   There are many articles online which list the ten planks with examples of how we have implemented them in American society.  I am not going to list all ten in this article but just point to a few areas where we are living as Communists and need to learn to live again as free men and women.  What follows are summary points (in bold) from several of the basic tenets of Communism so that we may see how they are very much alive and well in America (including in our own communities) and that we need to get serious about “unplanking” them if we are going to reclaim our liberty and have anything left of our godly heritage to pass on to our children and our grandchildren.

1.  Abolition of private property – There are at least three ways you can fight locally to re-establish private property rights.  The first is to retain control of your own property and its management and refuse to try to control your neighbor’s property.  In other words, let’s rethink all those building permits, zoning laws, sundry permissions, setbacks, and other forms of top-down control that keep a man from doing as he sees fit with his own land.  Oh, I know, our minds will immediately jump to “Yes, but if we don’t do such and such to make sure he uses the land rightly, he could use it wrongly!  Why, what if he ________?”  Well, what if he does?  Whose property is it?  Yours or his?  Who paid for it?  Under whose charge did God give it?  And if he uses his property wickedly, do we not already have sufficient laws on the books to combat his folly?  If you are honest, you will see right off with this first point that you have been trained to think like a Communist.  You have been trained to see your neighbor as the problem rather than totalitarianism as the problem.  Liberty is a scary proposition, friend.  Just realize that you cannot have your liberty if you will not allow your neighbor his

A second way to combat the abolition of private property is to fight the land tax.  The time to pay for the land is when we purchase it.  If the town can take our property someday, then we do not own it; we rent it.  Of course, taxes must be raised for necessary expenses in a community, but they should not be based on what we have in our possession, what we have been entrusted with and are attempting to steward, but rather should be equal among the people.  You can see the class warfare bred in this line of “progressive tax” thinking—they have more; they should pay more!  I must ask you, why?  Do they get more services?  If you go to the grocery store with five dollars in your wallet, should you pay more for your quart of milk than a shopper who comes in with only three dollars in his?  The apportionment of a head tax rather than a property or income-based tax means that everybody pays equally for the services available to them—and the fact that everyone would be required to pay an equal portion would keep taxes low enough for the poorest to afford.  That would mean drastic tax cuts, you say?  Many lost services?  So be it.  Let the people decide how many services they want by how much they are all willing to pay.  Why should those who are paying less (by far the majority) decide for those who are paying more?  Marxism rears its ugly head again!

Of course, in order to bring taxes to a level that everyone can afford, services need to be stripped back to those which are essential (think of things that are life-sustaining but virtually impossible for households to afford individually—ambulance and fire service, for example, or the construction of the roads and bridges they travel on).  Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”  There are many philosophies taught at our local public school which run completely counter to Christianity, yet we receive a bill every year for land taxes—seventy-three percent of which goes directly to funding the local school.  We can pay it, or we can ultimately lose our property—even though the school is using our dollars to teach a worldview contrary to our own.  That’s tyranny.  So a third thing we can do to fight the abolition of private property is to question all local expenditures and stop believing the lie that the public school system is necessary in order for the children in the community to obtain a good education.  We were a more literate people once, and we were a thinking people.  Public education has led us far from where we once were even with such promises as “no child left behind.”  For those who cannot afford private schooling or who cannot home educate, I think we would find an abundance of community members with generous hearts who would gladly give of their own time to act as tutors or who would give out of their own wallets for truly needy children to receive scholarships.  The difference is large—if I am giving by choice from my own wallet, I have a measure of control over the type of education being purchased and its ultimate success.  But if the money is taken from me in taxation, I have no check against its being misused.  In one fell swoop, I am stripped of my money and my voice.

2.  A heavy progressive/graduated income tax – While we see this at the local level as the land tax, we see it at the state and national levels as the income tax.  The same arguments apply here as in the point above.  If I make $50,000 a year, I should be paying the same tax as someone making $75,000 a year or $150,000 a year.  Why?  Because that’s what is fair and just.  The person making $75,000 does not receive more services for paying a larger share of the tax burden.  Obviously we need to fight this at local, state, and national levels politically, but I would submit to you that first we need to fight and win this bloody battle in our very hearts.  The only possible reason that I could want someone else to have to pay more taxes than I do would be greed.  I want something my neighbor has.  I don’t truly believe he has a right to steward or to enjoy what God has given him.  I want “my share” of his stuff, and I want it now.   (While we’re right on it—why should income be taxed at all?  The Scriptures say the laborer is worthy of his hire.  Did you know that personal incomes weren’t taxed in America until the early days of the Civil War?)

But what about those who are poor?  What about the widow?  What about the lonely?  What about the “disenfranchised”?  Don’t we need all these social programs to care for them?  God has a plan for the poor, the downtrodden, the burdened, and the distressed.  His plan is for the individual, the family, and the church to reach out and help them in the name of Jesus Christ.  His plan is not that what He has given us be taken by the heavy hand of the government and redistributed without accountability but that individuals across this land would see the needs they believe God would have them to meet and have the means to meet them.  We still have the responsibility as Christians to meet legitimate needs, by the way—the theft that is being perpetrated upon us does not relieve us of our duties before God—but it isn’t as easy as God meant it to be because we have allowed our wealth (our resources) to be eaten up by an ever-growing socialistic system whose ultimate aim is notto care for people but to control them.

So while we are looking in the mirror, let us look long and hard and honestly at this important question:  Am I receiving money in my bank account that is being taken from my hardworking neighbors or being borrowed against my children’s and grandchildren’s futures?  Maybe if I am honest, I will see that I am.  But maybe I won’t know what to do about it.  The first thing to do about it is to be humble, to admit that you have been duped.  You were raised in a Communist system, and you have been taken in a Communist trap.  A trap?  Yes, verily.  For I daresay that even if you now realize the duping, you see no way out of the result of it.  If you are a senior adult, be still.  You paid into a rotten system for a lifetime.  You believed the government would be there for you in your old age.  We, your neighbors, understand that.  I think most of us would be hesitant to take that from you at this point.  But, friend, you have children and grandchildren who are young enough to avoid being deceived by and taken in the system if you will only warn them.  They may have to pay into the system (for now) as a “tax” so that they can keep out of jail, but they don’t ever have to apply to receive from the system.  They can learn to save, to do without now so to have later, to go to family and the church with their needs rather than the local welfare office.  I understand that I am saying a hard thing.  Our forefathers were willing to lay down their lives, their possessions, their sacred honor for our (now withered) liberty.  What are we willing to lay down for our descendants?  I don’t mean “we” the nation.  I mean “we” as in you and me.  What am I willing to suffer to try to preserve the right of my children and grandchildren to be free men and women someday?  What are you willing to suffer to save yours from the bondage you find yourself in?

If you are a middle-aged or young adult, think seriously about the future you desire.  Do you want to find yourself in thirty years where the majority of seniors are today?  Does the promise of future “security” mean more to you than the promise of true liberty?  Does getting what you can from a myriad of programs seem only “fair” because you pay taxes after all?  Does taking from others seem insignificant because everybody’s doing it?  Let’s stop looking for excuses to live the Marxist way and start looking for ways to live as patriots.  Stop spending money you don’t have (living on credit) or didn’t earn (living on welfare in any of its forms).  Start saving for your own future and as much as possible for the futures of your children as well.  Stop using other people’s money to feed your family so that you can use your money to feed your vices.  Stop expecting other people to take care of you and start taking care of yourself.  And when you find you have a need that you can’t meet—and we all will at some point because that is one of the ways God gets us to see that we ultimately need Him—get on your knees and ask God for help (but realize that if you want Him to hear you then, you should be talking with Him now).  Go to the local church body and ask them for help as well (but realize that they are going to first be inclined to help their own brethren, so you should be in fellowship with them now and helping to bear the burdens of others).  If you are thinking you don’t need that kind of help because it comes with accountability, just realize that these same people you scorn are paying your way already.  You are taking from them using the strong arm of the government rather than asking for help honestly, and you will answer for that someday.

3.  Equal obligation of all to work – It should not take two salaries to raise a family, so we should question what is going on in America today that makes it hard for husbands or fathers to bring home “enough” and encourages wives and mothers to seek full-time careers.  Marx viewed women as cogs that needed to be plugged into the industrial machine and do their part to contribute to society (not for the good of the woman or her family but for the good of the State).  God beckons Christian women to a more important sphere of influence—the home.  While at first glance work done in the home may not seem to matter as much as work done outside the home, that is due to our warped understanding (evaluating circumstances with a temporal perspective rather than an eternal one).  What do we look at to define success in our culture?  We generally look at how much money somebody is bringing in.  Yet what is money but pieces of paper?  (And I mean that quite literally—especially under our fiat system!)*  Truly, how much a woman makes in her lifetime serves as a poor indicator of how much lasting good she has done.  Remember the old saying “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”?  It points directly to a woman’s influence beginning in the home and then extending outward.  We have a very small view of the home today.  We do not see it as the center of hope, help, hospitality, healing, education, ministry, and industry that it was meant to be.  (Matter of fact, much of what the home was meant to do has been usurped by big government—we need to get serious about calling upon our legislators to stop rolling out new legislation and start rolling back the multitudinous onerous regulations that are curtailing our ability to act as free men and women and build thriving communities.)

God is not looking to shut up half of the redeemed behind walls and keep them from doing anything meaningful—rather, He has given them the high calling of training up the next generation to know and to follow Him.  He asks that Christian women be faithful in marriage, do good works, care for the brethren and the stranger, relieve the poor and afflicted, look to the needs of the household, and be creative and industrious with the unique gifts that He has given each of them.  (Proverbs 31 and I Timothy 5)   And in response to their obedience, He can multiply their reach and their reward.  If you view this as a small work, friend, take it up with the Lord.  The shards that society has been shattered into today are indicator enough that we threw out something important without understanding its worth.  Being equal with men should never have to mean that we have to be the same as men to have any value.  On the contrary, God made two distinct genders to fully reflect His image.  Men don’t apologize for their role as providers; women shouldn’t have to apologize for embracing the work (and work it is) of running a home, raising a family, and reaching out to the community.  I’ll warn you it’s countercultural and extremely underappreciated in our day, but it’s vital to the healing of our nation nonetheless.  Why?  Because God created three foundations for a functional society:  the family, the church, and the civil government.  If any one of them is broken (and all three are broken in America), that society cannot long endure.  So regardless of what everyone else on your block may choose to do, you can choose to prioritize strengthening your marriage, nurturing your children, honoring and caring for your parents and the elderly, passing on the faith to your descendants, ministering to those with a variety of needs in your church and community, and rebuilding Western civilization by employing the distinct talents God has given you.

Because of the socialistic system we are laboring under, choosing to focus on home and family may require great sacrifice (but then, it required tremendous sacrifice for the Pilgrim mothers and maidens as well).  It may mean living very simply, foregoing things that others take for granted, learning to find joy in serving God together rather than in things, stepping back from the media and advertising that bombard us continually with how we (in their minds) should live or what we should have, being willing to receive help (of a non-governmental nature) when we need it, being ready to share out of our resources when others have needs, and committing to steward well the household income we have—even supplementing in whatever way we can without abandoning the home front or our primary duties—and  trusting God to supply beyond that.     

4.  Free education for all children in government schools – When all is said and done, the biggest investment you can make, the most important thing that you can do today to give hope to the next generation, is to educate your own children and grandchildren to recognize and reject Marxism and to choose to live as free men and women before God.  If somebody else is training your children and the taxpayer is funding it, know that they are receiving a Marxist education—yes, even in your tiny little “all-American” town.  They are receiving a godless, socialistic education that is designed to prepare them to be dependent upon and easily managed by the state in adulthood.  But don’t take my word for it; do the research yourself.  Look into the names behind the development of the public school system and its teachings in America (Rousseau, Horace Mann, Darwin, John Dewey, and B. F. Skinner among others).  Find out what they truly believed.  Investigate the powerful teachers’ union (NEA) and look for the agenda behind their positions and decisions.  And understand that while that sweet lady who teaches your kindergartner and that very nice gentleman who teaches your second-grader might not seem like they wish them any harm (why, you’ve known them for years after all), they are being paid to indoctrinate all the children in the classroom, including yours.  There are even myriad Christians still working in the system across the land.  I understand that they didn’t go into teaching to train up Communists.  They just wanted to be salt and light and reach children for Jesus.  But how can they point children to Jesus when they’re no longer allowed to so much as whisper His glorious name and when all the words they do get to say and all the textbooks and take-home papers they do hand out preach a message and a worldview contrary to His own?

Bring your children home, friend.  Get them out of the system and get them into the Word.  Learn our true, providential history for yourself and teach it to them.  And don’t stop with history—share with them the truth about origins (we are not animals—we are made in the image of God) and art and music and beauty (there are objective standards) and math and language (our thoughts do matter, and our words do have meaning) and a thousand other things!  Only by immersing ourselves in all that is good and holy and godly do we learn to identify and reject all that is not.  I heard a song on the radio a week or so ago which was sung by a husband-and-wife duo—Joey and Rory.  Called “Gotta Go Back,” it reminisces about “the good old days” when life was simpler and not so scary.  It’s all very nice for us to say we’ve got to go back; I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment.  But I fear that the American public is almost beyond caring.  We are daily sacrificing our children to our gods—prosperity and pleasure being chief among them. 

Do you care?  Or are you reading this article and making excuses, thinking I must be talking about somebody else’s school and somebody else’s children and grandchildren?  I’m not.  I’m talking about yours.  If you’re the parent, bring them home.  If you’re the grandparent, urge your children to bring them home—and if they won’t, spend your afternoons and evenings and weekends doing your best to unteach the Marxism and humanism your grandchildren will be spoonfed daily.  One hour of Sunday School a week isn’t going to do it.  Education is “little by little, bit by bit” every day of a child’s life.  British educator Charlotte Mason once said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”  Children need to breathe the very words of life daily.  They need to learn to recognize all that is false by being immersed in all that is true and righteous and holy.

I’ve only touched on four of the planks of Marxism in this article.  It would take pages more to introduce such disturbing matters as the centralization of credit and how our wealth is being stolen through inflation, the takeover of private industry by the government, the abolition of our rights of inheritance, and more.  Please take time to check out the resources in the endnotes and learn more about recognizing Marxism and its tenets yourself.  If we can recognize Communism, we can fight it.  And it is not as easy as playing red team/blue team at the polls.  There are many Republicans who are socialists and purveyors of godlessness as well.  By all means, go vote.  But don’t think it’s going to save America.  Getting in the right politicians isn’t going to do it—the majority of them become corrupt and obtain and maintain power by promising constituents more money (socialism alert—it’s not just “more money,” it’s more of somebody else’s money).  The only way to bring America back to where she started is to rebuild the foundation she had.  She was largely built by individuals and families who loved God and His Word, loved their neighbors, and embraced a multi-generational vision of faithfulness (unlike many modern-day Hezekiahs who are happy enough so long as things are tolerable in their day).  She can only be rebuilt by individuals and families who are willing to sacrifice everything to be and do the same. 

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Note:  I was prompted to write this article because I heard three different Christian women ask the title question within the space of one week, and I know that the answer that the Christian community at large tends to give to this question is “pray.”  Yes, friend, repent and pray, for without God and His mercy, there is no hope for America.  But once you have gotten up off your knees, consider what else God might have for you to do.  The work is large, and the laborers are few. 

Given below are some of my “top picks” for accessible resources on Communism, Marxism, socialism, humanism, and governmental overreach.   Remember, we must begin with our own households and communities and work outward, employing the mote-beam principle of Scripture.  (Matthew 7:3-5)     

  1. As I Read It: One Man’s Understanding of the Constitution by Jonathan S. Beal
  2. A Word in Season (Volumes 1-7) by R. J. Rushdoony
  3. Biblical Economics in Comics by Vic Lockman
  4. When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany by Erwin W. Lutzer
  5. Agenda: Grinding America Down and Agenda 2: Masters of Deceit by Curtis Bowers
  6. IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America by Colin Gunn and Joaquin Fernandez
  7. Select videos from PragerU, such as Who is Karl Marx? by Paul Kengor and Was Jesus a Socialist? by Lawrence Reed

* I do not wish to be flip about money or the necessity of having enough to take care of our families, but I do desire to challenge the commonly accepted narrative that the best we can hope for in life is to grow up, marry (or not), make enough money to be “happy,” and then die…only to be quickly and easily replaced by another well-trained cog.  There is no hope for the individual or for the family in that scenario; there is only ever the relentless machine operating seamlessly with its barely indistinguishable parts.  We do labor in a fallen world; our lives here can never be perfect, but we can do better than that.  We can reject man’s utopian plan (which hasn’t yet resulted in “Heaven on earth” in any nation where it’s been tried) and embrace instead the promise of abundant life in Jesus Christ—first in finding salvation, then in learning to do God’s will (not only in obeying the universal commands which apply to all Christians—those summarized in “love God, love your neighbor”—but also in fulfilling the distinct plans He has for each of us as individuals and as families).   

All Lives Matter

Almost any child who has been to Sunday School or been raised in a Christian family will recognize these words:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red, brown, yellow, black, and white—
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

And Jesus doesn’t only love children. He died and rose again for grownups too. So by extrapolation we could also sing:

Jesus loves each and every grownup,
All the grownups of the world.
Red, brown, yellow, black, and white—
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves all the grownups of the world.

Now, we could stop and have a heated debate over the political correctness of referring to any people group nowadays as “red,” “yellow,” or “brown” (though for some reason “black” and “white” still fly), but let’s not get lost in minutia—clearly the song’s lyricist, preacher Clarence H. Woolston, was trying to be inclusive. And the point is this: even children used to understand something very basic that we have lost in our modern, “enlightened” society. Each of us—because we have been individually formed by an all-wise, all-loving Creator—has intrinsic value regardless of the color of our skin, because we are eternal souls created with an eternal purpose—to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

We in the church need to lead the way by proclaiming oneness in Christ and demonstrating unity with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. America used to be known as a melting pot—not because various groups lost their individuality by settling here but because they learned to live peaceably with those whose customs and cultures might differ from their own and because the majority of those who came here to enjoy America’s freedom realized their opportunity existed thanks to America’s godly heritage, so they were willing to pass that history down to their children as they became part of America’s story themselves.

We must not allow the Marxists to divide us—to turn us against one another, to destroy the progress that has been made since the time when Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed that his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We must not allow them to tear at the already fraying fabric of our society and rend us in two. And we mustn’t assume that fixing this is somebody else’s job. Americans have too long been leaving the work of the family and the church to the government. If each of us would just purpose to do what God has given us to do in our homes, in our churches, in our communities, we could begin to mend America’s fabric and restore some hope of a bright future to our children and our children’s children.

So get out there and love your neighbor—red, brown, yellow, black, or white—because Jesus does. Whether infant or aged, rich or poor, urban or rural, sick or well, Jew or Gentile, religious or not, God created that person and he bears His image. Or she bears His image. As do you. Forget about the externals; focus on what matters. Look past your neighbor’s skin color and see the heart. Because at heart we are all just sinners. We are either sinners in need of repentance or sinners saved by grace. That’s what matters.

Eternity is ahead of us, and our days and hours are numbered, but God is not willing that any should perish. When that trumpet sounds, God is not going to verify whether anyone is in a particular people group. Rather, Jesus is going to call His Bride from all the countries of the earth—every tribe and tongue. He is coming for every precious soul covered by the blood of the Lamb. And in that day of immediate transformation into Christlikeness, His followers will all get “race relations” right for the rest of eternity. But we don’t have to wait for the Rapture. Through the process of sanctification, we can have a tiny bit of Heaven on earth today by simply loving God, loving each other.

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Copyright © 2020

Notes:

Third full paragraph—concerning Marxism, a quote from a 2015 video interview with Patrisse Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter): “We actually do have an ideological frame, myself and Alicia [Garza] in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on sort of ideological theories.” Cristian Laila, author of the article on Gateway Pundit where I first saw the video clip, writes: “Black Lives Matter is seeking to transform America by defunding the police, dismantling capitalism, ‘destroying the patriarchy,’ breaking down the nuclear family unit, emptying prisons, redistributing wealth in the form of reparations among other far left objectives.” And, “Their goal is to bring chaos where there is order, fan the flames of class warfare and demonize Christians and conservatives.”

Laila’s article did not include notation, so I did a little digging of my own and was able to both read and view statements which lend unfortunate credence to her summary by visiting the websites for Black Lives Matter and Dignity and Power Now (which was also founded by Cullors and was created to “end state violence and mass incarceration”) as well as viewing various videos featuring Cullors that are available on YouTube, including one from 2018 where she says, “Whenever people are not getting the things that they deserve, and we can see this across the world—look at Egypt—people are going to rise up.” [all italics mine]. Another from the 2015 video referenced above: “We wanted to call a new black liberation movement that centered on those most at the margin as a part of a political frame to challenge the current system that we live in.” And from the BLM website: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another…”

There are also many supporting statements in the document “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom, and Justice,” which details various demands and recommendations from activist and advocacy groups working in coalition with Black Lives Matter. You can read it for yourself here: https://neweconomy.net/sites/default/files/resources/20160726-m4bl-Vision-Booklet-V3.pdf

Disturbingly, Americans are being told not only what they should or should not say (such as being dissuaded from altering the hashtag for BLM as I did for the title of this article) but also that what they do choose to say cannot mean what they want it to! Cullors (from the 2015 video) again: “When we use things like ‘all lives matter,’ or when we say things like ‘our lives matter’ we are actually negating black life, whether that’s intentionally or unintentionally.” I must respectfully disagree. And, to be clear, when I use the phrase “all lives matter,” what I actually mean to be understood by it is this: all lives matter.

Fourth full paragraph—in case “infant or aged” is too subtle in today’s society, let me be explicit. It is God who creates and sustains life, and God who has the right to determine when life is over. Those who wink at abortion and laugh at euthanasia will find in the end that God does neither.

“For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. By thee have I been holden up from the womb.” Psalm 71:5+6a

The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. I Samuel 2:6

Fifth full paragraph—I chose to use the term “race relations” here because it is widely recognized, but I include it in quotation marks because in reality, Scripture shows we are all one blood (all descended from Adam and Eve), one race—human. That is why the blood of Christ is able to cover any soul on earth from any tribe or nation if that person but asks Him for salvation. (See Acts 17:26-28, a part of Paul’s address at Athens.)

So Liberty’s dying. (shrug) What do you want me to do about it?


Concept that Lisa drafted and our youngest daughter illustrated, showing how our influence for righteousness begins in the home and extends outward to our community, state, nation, and the world.   (c) 2019

Depiction of Lady Liberty

We hear a lot today about how if we’re not careful, America will someday slide into socialism.  Friends, we need to wake up.  America already slid.  We have a largely socialistic, humanistic system in place right now.  The education of the majority of our children is government-controlled.  Health care is being taken over by the federal government as well.   We have a glut of obligatory tax-funded programs that are socialistic in nature from Social Security to Medicare and Medicaid to federal housing to farm subsidies and so much more.  Any time the government takes money from the people to fund the responsibilities of the people “on behalf of” the people, that is socialism.  Someone other than you is taking your income and deciding what those monies will fund – even if you strongly disagree with what is being funded.  Take, for example, tax dollars – your tax dollars and my tax dollars – being used to fund abortion, the murder of the most defenseless and innocent among us.  Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”  He was one of our founders who was willing to risk his life, liberty, and property to set the people free from the heavy hand of British rule, so he knew tyranny.  And he defined it for us, so we could recognize it when it came around again. 

Let me give you another personal example of how tyranny hits home for us.  We choose to homeschool our children because we believe it is the parents’ responsibility to teach the next generation about God and country.  The public education system in America has turned its back on God and no longer teaches America’s true history or founding principles.  My husband works hard to provide for us, but every time we cash his paycheck, we lose dollars that could have been funding the education of our own children to an educational system that is teaching other people’s children to one day attempt to oppress and persecute ours.  If you think that’s exaggeration, you need to follow the news more carefully.  Christians are being side-lined in America, being told they are mentally ill, being told they have no right to express their beliefs anywhere where someone might hear them, being told they have no right to hold public positions because they hold to basic biblical tenets.  And those are just a few examples.* 

As a nation we have raised up (and are continuing to raise up) generations who do not appreciate Christians and Christianity because they don’t know their own history.  They don’t recognize the gift that the Anglicans, the Puritans, and the Separatists sacrificed to give them in venturing everything to settle this once-wild land.  Nobody is reading them the charter of Jamestown, which refers to the “propagating of Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God.”  Nobody is telling them that In Plymouth we find men and women and children whose voyage – as described in the Mayflower Compact — had been “undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith and Honor of our King and Country.”  Children are not being taught to appreciate the integrity of George Washington, who in his farewell address said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”  and ” [R]eason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”  They don’t know the words of John Adams who said “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  Nor is anybody teaching them the words of the patriot Patrick Henry — “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  For this very reason, people of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship.” 

Christians, we need to start living out our faith in America.  We need to stop being afraid, and start being free.  When people see us, we should stand out.  We should be leading, not cowering.  We should be brilliant lights in a darkening world, healing salt on a festering wound.  When others observe us, they should see and hear a difference.  We need to speak differently, dress differently, act differently, consume differently, read differently, and think differently than everyone else.  The only way for that to happen is for us to be in the Word and unplugged from popular culture.  We need to make the Scriptures the absolute guide for our lives.  We need to evaluate, and as often as necessary re-evaluate, everything about our homes, our careers, our past times, our finances, our dreams, our goals, our priorities.  We need to stop bemoaning the fact that we can’t change the world and do our best to lead in the domain we have been given.  Every one of us has a home, a church, a community.  Every one of us has family, friends, and neighbors whom we not only can but should influence for righteousness.  Every one of us has the ability to pray and turn. 

There is a verse in II Chronicles (7:14) that is widely used in encouraging Christians to pray for revival in our land.  I agree wholeheartedly that we need revival in our land.  Without question we need for God to do a mighty work.  But I think too often we get looking around at others and thinking God needs to do a revival work in them and we miss what these verses actually say.  The verses do not just say for us to pray.  They say “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”   God not only expects us to pray for our nation; he expects us to examine our own lives, clean out the garbage, and become models of virtue for others to follow.  The Scripture clearly says, “humble themselves” and “turn from their wicked ways.”  And it’s talking about us.  The first and most important thing I can do to bring back liberty in America is turn myself from sin and seek God.  And it’s the first and most important thing you can do too.   But if we’re going to skip the humbling and the turning, we might as well skip the praying.  Psalm 66:18 reminds us, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”  

Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”  Righteousness begins at home.  There are two verses that we have shared repeatedly over the years with our children.  Actually, there are many verses we have shared repeatedly, but I want to focus on these two this evening :  Psalm 101:2b and Matthew 5:16.  They work in tandem.  The first says:  “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”  Before I worry about the sins of the rest of the state and the nation, I need to ensure that my walk within my own house is right before God.  That touches everything – what I read, what I watch, what I say, where I’m willing to go, what I choose to do with my time, how I spend my money.  Everything.  Only after having removed the beam from my own eye am I ready to help remove the mote in another’s.**  Then the second says “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”  We were never meant to hide our light under a bushel.  If we know the Lord and love the Lord, we are instructed to shine.  Regardless of what we are hearing in America right now, it’s not only acceptable to talk about your faith, practice your faith, and allow it to permeate all of your dealings with others, it’s commanded!  And God is the Author of Liberty.  So, frankly, anything righteous done for Him can only benefit America.  Any good works done for Him strengthen our nation and benefit the cause of freedom. 

We may never know the effect that our homes and our humility and our obedience will have on our community, our state, and our nation.  God asks that we walk in faith.  That’s not easy.  There are so many other things we could do with our time, so many things that sound more important than being humble and making sure our own houses are in order.  So many projects that seem larger than loving our spouse and discipling our own children and reaching out to our neighbors.   But future generations will rise up and call us blessed if we will focus on doing what God has given us to do.  Strong homes, strong families, strong churches mean a strong America.  Washington D.C. may be our capital, but individual families and homes and churches have always been our heart. 

Sadly, America’s heart is diseased because her families are broken and her houses and churches are shells of what they once were.  Liberty is lying there on life support, unable to communicate but crying out inside for someone to care, to remember, to do something to save her.  Don’t be part of the crowd clamoring to pull the plug.  Be one of the faithful who will kneel at her side and repent for having a part in in her malady.  Be one who will pray for God to intervene and revive her.  Be one who not only believes that He can but that if we are obedient and do our part, He will.  Then, get up and go get Liberty a cup of life-giving Water, because when He answers – she’s going to need it.

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Copyright © 2019

* For documentation of these particular examples, see Culture Jihad:  How to Stop the Left from Killing a Nation  (2019) by Todd Starnes (especially pages 93, 197, and 256).   One caution:  while I appreciate the work Mr. Starnes has done compiling ways that our freedoms are being eroded, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend the book because the Lord’s name is taken in vain repeatedly.   An older book with a similar focus is David Limbaugh’s Persecution:  How Liberals are Waging War Against Christianity (2003).  It has been longer since I have read the second title, but I do not remember the Lord’s name having been misused by the author.  A spot-check of various pages of that text this afternoon seems to indicate that that is correct.

** To clarify, a Christian should be always reforming, growing more like Christ.  While we will never reach perfection on this earth, we need to be continually holding ourselves to the mirror of the Word and fixing what sins we find there so that we are not hypocritical in our dealings with others.

Thoughts on Independence Day

Looking back to my childhood, the Fourth of July was always a big day. There were parades and fireworks, church suppers and craft fairs, arm-wrestling contests and various types of races. Extended family would gather from hours away to reconnect at my great-grandmother’s house. I was able to visit with cousins that I wouldn’t see more than once or twice a year. The Fourth was important, a holiday I eagerly anticipated as each young summer was getting underway. Of course, being a child, I didn’t appreciate then the fragile nature of liberty and the great sacrifices that had been made to preserve it for so long, but I did know that the day was special and that it was set apart to celebrate something worth remembering.

As I look around the same region today, those Fourth of July celebrations are gone. It’s just another day, as the little towns hold their own separate celebrations scattered throughout the summer and fall. I suppose the theory is that people will be able to visit several town celebrations and bring along their tourist dollars to support local businesses in each. Whether that works out in practice, I can’t say, but I do know that today’s crowds are nothing like they were thirty years ago. The focus of the celebrations is no longer the blessing of liberty secured by our independence from England; instead local celebrations are centered on each town, its businesses, and its virtues. While such celebrations may do well in cultivating a sense of community, by avoiding Independence Day they also encourage forgetfulness of the providence of God in the founding of our nation.

And so for our Independence Day, we decided to do something a little different as a family this year. We gathered the children in the living room and settled in for an evening of poetry and history, reflecting together on the early days of America and discussing their relationship to the state of our nation today. My wife read several poems by Samuel Francis Smith (author of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”) from an old volume that had belonged to my great-grandfather. Our eldest daughter read excerpts from President Calvin Coolidge’s address on Independence Day 1926. And I read aloud the Declaration of Independence, pausing frequently for discussion. It was truly an enjoyable and educational evening.

If it’s been awhile since you read the Declaration of Independence, you might be surprised to see how many parallels there are between then and now. Along with the commonly remembered charge of “taxation without representation”, the Declaration brought many other accusations against King George III, including:

  • Multiple clauses outlining repeated and varied interference with the legislative bodies which were to represent the people. (How often do state laws and constitutional provisions fall victim to overreaching federal judges today? How often does our executive branch stonewall Congressional investigations, rather than working with them as the representatives of the people?)
  • Interference with the establishment of judiciary bodies, and perversion of justice by making the judges wholly dependent on the crown for their pay and their continued tenure. (How accountable are modern federal judges with lifetime tenure, a steady income stream from federal coffers, and a Congress too timid — or too guilty themselves — to impeach them for overreach?)
  • “Erect[ing] a multitude of New Offices, and send[ing] hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” (4.3 million federal employees as of 2012, not including contractors… need more be said?)
  • “[E]ndeavour[ing] to prevent the population of these States.” (650 million acres owned by Washington, DC and set aside for various purposes, including national forests, national parks, lands for grazing and energy development, and nature preserves to protect animal and plant species. That figure includes roughly 28% of the country’s land area, including at least half of five states: 50% of Idaho, 53% of Oregon, 57% of Utah, 69% of Alaska, and 84% of Nevada.)
  • Keeping “among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.” (One memorable example of this would be the 2013 Boston lockdown, with police tanks patrolling the streets. Over the past couple decades, we have witnessed an increasing level of militarization of state and local police forces, including acquisition of surplus equipment from the United States military. And, we have sacrificed our liberty and our privacy for a façade of security; air travelers submit themselves daily to the staff of the Department of Homeland Security in every airport.)

The list of our Founders’ grievances goes on and on for those willing to read it. When you do, please pause to consider the parallels to modern America and to discuss them with your children. Our Founders recognized George III as a tyrant, and stated that a tyrant “is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.” Unfortunately, we the people, have forgotten our history, preferring instead to latch onto catchy phrases like “taxation without representation” which enabled us to succeed with our fill-in-the-blanks tests in school. We never learned what liberty truly is, why our ancestors fought for it, or how to recognize whether we remain a free people.

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Copyright © 2015

Ten Questions, Part 2

If you missed Part 1, see it here.

What is redistribution?

Redistribution is a process by which income, wealth, and/or property are transferred from those who have more to those who have less. One can voluntarily give out of one’s own substance, which would be a charitable form of redistribution. Most often, however, the term is not used for voluntary giving, but instead for the involuntary seizing of assets by a governmental authority, who then proceeds to redistribute them to others. This is done — in theory — to “level the playing field” or to “reduce income inequality” or to “promote social justice”. These are all euphemisms for government subsidization of those it considers poor or otherwise underprivileged, using money extracted via taxation from those it considers rich or privileged. It could also be viewed as a mechanism by which politicians increase the likelihood of their continuing in elective office by taking from some voters to line the pockets of others.

What is socialism?

Socialism is a form of social organization where the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned communally. That is, the resources of a geographic area (a nation or even the whole world) are owned collectively, rather than by individuals, families, or businesses. There would be no individual incentive to work diligently to provide for one’s needs, to increase one’s standard of living, or to accumulate wealth to pass on to one’s progeny, as one would have access to draw from the common larder. Buying and selling would be abolished and work itself would become voluntary, according to one socialist website. As can be imagined, this very likely would result in a great deal of “taking” and not a lot of “producing”. It does, however, provide a large means of control over the masses to the governments who will take “from each according to his ability” and distribute “to each according to his needs”. When one is beholden to a government for one’s daily bread, one is effectively a slave and is very likely to vote for one’s masters to keep the bread coming in the future.

Under the U.S. Constitution what should be the response of the federal government to the needs of individuals?

The U.S. Constitution defines the current form of government for our nation, whose birth certificate is the Declaration of Independence. In addition to setting out a list of grievances against an overreaching central government and affirming the right of the people to representative self-government, the July 4th, 1776 Declaration acknowledged that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Governments are instituted to preserve and protect those God-given rights, but they do not give the rights nor can they take them away – they are a part of our birthright, as we are created in the likeness and image of God. Our Constitution is a compact among the states, defining what specific powers are delegated to the national government, and reserving all other powers to the states and the people.

Among its eighteen enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, the national government has no capability for responding to the financial needs of individuals. By not being enumerated in the original 1787 Constitution, that power was implicitly reserved to the states and the people. And, if that wasn’t clear enough, the Tenth Amendment was added four years later to state explicitly that all powers not specifically delegated to the national government are reserved to the states and the people.

The biggest need of individuals that can be met by the national government is the need to have their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness preserved. Their financial failures and successes are neither to be prevented nor guaranteed by the government, but their God-given rights must be secured.

One good example on the limits of government charity can be found in Davy Crockett’s “Not Yours to Give” speech, where he emphasized the value of personal charity and the injustice of the government taking from some to redistribute to others, regardless of the worthiness of the need.

What biblical principles would help the state formulate a proper response to the needs of individuals?

As we saw above, there is no Constitutional power at the federal level to meet the financial needs of individuals. I would argue that the same principle applies to states. Exacting revenue from some to then give to others violates God’s commandments against covetousness and theft, as noted above, and encourages slothfulness.

What then are the duties of a government to the people it governs?
• to not oppress the people (Ezekiel 45:8)
• to neither be violent nor spoil the people (Ezekiel 45:9)
• to execute judgment and justice (Ezekiel 45:9)
• to ease the exactions (taxation) upon them (Ezekiel 45:9)
• to use a system of just weights and measures (Ezekiel 45:10)
• to not be a terror to good works (Romans 13:3)
• to be a terror to evil, to bear the sword against evil, and to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil (Romans 13:3-4)

In contrast, let’s look at I Samuel 8. As Israel was considering moving from rule by judges to rule by a king – to be just like the heathen nations around them – God sent Samuel to warn the people of what a king would do to them:
• draft their sons into government and military service (verses 11-12)
• draft their daughters into government service (verse 13)
• take their fields, vineyards, and oliveyards and give them to his associates (verse 14)
• take a tenth of their seed and their vineyards to give to his associates (verse 15)
• take their servants and livestock and put them into his service (verse 16)
• take a tenth of their sheep (verse 17)
• make the people his servants (verse 17)

Given a set of principles for rightly governing and a set of warnings against an unjust government to come, our civic leaders would do well to model the former wherever possible and avoid the latter at all costs. That is, whether in city hall, in the state house, or in Washington, DC, our leaders would be well advised to enact just laws, to punish evildoers, to move toward a system of sound money (just weights and measures), and to roll back big government giveaway programs while allowing individuals, families, and churches to resume their roles as the supports to the needy in their communities.

Can God meet your needs?

Yes, absolutely and without question. Psalm 50:10-12 reassures us of God’s ownership of all resources on the earth He created, and Philippians 4:19 reminds us “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” As Creator and Sustainer, God has access to all we could ever need and has a willingness to provide for us.

How God chooses to meet our needs, however, is entirely up to Him. Most often, it involves our faithful service in the work to which He calls us. We have a responsibility to provide as well as we can for our own household (I Timothy 5:8), and we must also have a keen awareness of the needs of others and take advantage of opportunities to help (Galatians 6:10). And then there are times when God chooses to miraculously provide, as with manna for the children of Israel (Exodus 16:11-15), bread from ravens for Elijah (I Kings 17:1-6), and meal and oil for the widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17:8-16).

We must not neglect our responsibilities or our opportunities, simply assuming God will provide even in our slothfulness, as Jesus said, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4:7) Yet we can rest in the assurance that as we walk with Him, He will be sufficient for each of our needs.

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Copyright © 2014

Ten Questions, Part 1

Ten Questions

With a goal of helping to recognize our attitudes toward God and government, we briefly raise ten questions in our CD “Ten Financial Gifts You Can Give Your Children… Even in Tough Economic Times”. In that message, we do not answer the questions — we simply raise them as food for thought and leave them as an exercise for the listener. This article attempts to briefly provide our answers to those ten questions.

I would encourage you to carefully and prayerfully consider, study, and answer these questions for your own families. As our nation continues its economic descent, the principles included in your answers can help guide your family through the troubled days ahead.

What should we render to Caesar? What should we not?

When pressed on whether it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar – to pay taxes to the secular government – Jesus presented two key points of information. First, He asked His listeners to identify whose image and superscription was on the coin. They said simply, “Caesar’s.” Second, He gave the principle: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” This instruction is recorded in three of the four gospels (Luke 20:20-26, Matthew 15-22, Mark 12:13-17).

What had Caesar’s image? The currency of the day. So, taxation itself is lawful. What has God’s image? From Scripture, we see that people – made in the image of God – bear His image. This is recorded in Genesis 1:27 and reaffirmed in Genesis 9:6 where civil government was instituted with a prescription for punishing evildoers.

And how are we to bear God’s superscription — His words? On what should they be written? Psalm 119:11 tells us, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Mankind, being a special creation of God, bears the image of God and should hide His Word in their hearts. People – including our children – are not the property of the state; therefore the state has no legitimate claim over them. Rather than render our children to the statist schools, we should embrace our God-given roles as parents and train them ourselves (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). If circumstances prevent that, we should seek a private school that will train our children in line with God’s principles.

At what point does more taxation become an outgrowth of larceny, greed, and covetousness?

When a government extracts more from taxpayers than is needed to fund legitimate government expenditures — those allowed by its foundational documents and not violating God’s commandments — it has crossed into using governmental authority to execute theft on behalf of those coveting and then receiving the goods of others. That is to say, those receiving largesse from the government are not reaching directly into the taxpayers’ pockets to steal; rather, they are using the government as an intermediary to do the stealing and distribution on their behalf.

What are the legitimate functions of government? According to Scripture, the basic purposes of government are to encourage good and to punish evildoers — and this must be done in a way that doesn’t violate God’s commandments. The role of government is dealt with more fully below in the questions about the federal and state governments and their relationships to the needs of individuals.

A few additional points to consider… When Samuel was warning Israel against moving from a system of judges toward having a king, he warned that the king would take a tenth of their seed and produce (I Samuel 8:15). Even at the time of the upcoming famine in Egypt, Pharaoh only took twenty percent in preparation for the seven lean years (Genesis 41:34). And when King Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard, even he realized that he could not legitimately seize property which belonged to another (I Kings 21:1-16). Take just a moment and compare those incidents with governments in our modern era… When the people were warned against losing 10% to taxation, when a pagan monarch takes only 20% in a time of crisis, and when one of the most notorious kings in the Bible maintains a semblance of respect for private property, it really points to how far we have fallen as a once-free people.

Should other people be required to pay for my family’s food, shelter, education, healthcare, amenities, and retirement?

We are instructed in Scripture to show compassion on our brother in need (I John 3:17), to have pity on the poor and thereby lend to the Lord (Proverbs 19:17), and to do good to all men – especially those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). Caring for our brethren in need was to be one of those good works the world could see and then glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). In all these instances, however, the charity was done without compulsion; it was an act of love in service to the Father, seeking to do His will.

In addition to having compassion, however, we are to use discernment. There is a difference between the poor who are working hard yet still poor, and the slothful who sit idly and expect to be fed. We see repeatedly in Scripture where the idle soul shall suffer hunger (Proverbs 19:15), where the slothful won’t even bring his hand to his mouth to feed himself (Proverbs 19:24), and where those who will not work should not eat (II Thessalonians 3:10). At the individual level, working in our own communities, we can see people’s habits of work and stewardship, and thereby discern how to prioritize the resources we have available to help others.

When governments take by taxation and spread wealth from the “haves” to the “have-nots”, there is no discretion, no prioritization of the brethren, and no encouragement of the poor to work — there is simple subsidization of slothfulness. There is no scriptural case to be made for the government requiring anyone to pay for anything for anyone else. It is out of the government’s jurisdiction and stands in the way of people using the resources God has given them as He directs them to meet the needs of their community and reach out to others in love.

Should the rich pay more in taxes than the poor?

“Thou shalt not covet … any thing that is thy neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17) “Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) Even in only looking at the Ten Commandments, we can see that God respects private property rights — simply desiring the goods of another is a sin, even if no theft occurs. If you then take what belongs to another, that’s a second sin. If there was no private property, then neither coveting nor stealing would be sinful.

Much of modern politics is built upon what a majority of voters would like to see for expenditures, while assuming that someone else’s taxes will be high enough pay for it. Before the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified in 1913, there was no direct income tax; federal government expenses were paid primarily by tariffs on imported goods and occasionally by taxes levied upon the states.* As a result, federal expenses were vastly lower, as was federal power. Since the Sixteenth Amendment was passed and the federal income tax begun, it has become a tool for enshrining class conflict as a core of American life. That is, envy is encouraged, as the majority can vote for programs they cannot afford, simply because they can tax the rich at a higher rate to pay for them. The prevailing wisdom is that taking from the rich is okay, because they already “have more than they need”. This Marxist philosophy runs counter to Biblical thinking, but has proliferated in America since the early 1900’s.

In the Bible, we see uniformity in sharing expenses. In Exodus 30:12-16, God commands a half shekel atonement offering from each of the Israelites, none more, none less. In Numbers 7:11-88, the twelve tribes of Israel each offered a uniform amount of silver, gold, flour, and sacrificial animals. There was no difference between the large tribes or the small tribes, the rich or the poor — they gave equally.

Beginning at least as far back as Abraham in Genesis 14:18-20, the tithe established a uniform percentage of giving firstfruits to God. While the physical amounts given were not equal, the percentage was. There was not one rate for the poor and another for the rich; it was a flat 10%, with no deductions, exemptions, or special credits, like those the government uses to prefer one set of people — or their behaviors — over another.

As to whether the rich should pay more in taxes than the poor, the question would be completely unnecessary if we were to roll back the Sixteenth Amendment and return to funding the federal government by tariffs and an occasional tax apportioned among the states, as we did for more than half the lifetime of our country. This would have the additional benefit of shrinking government and thus restoring freedom. This would be the first option for me.

If we can’t yet go back to a tariffs-only funding model, my second choice for the interim would be a flat per-head tax. With such a system, everyone would have an equal share in government expenses, just as each person has an equal vote. It would also give people an equal incentive to hold expenses down and would, in fact, require that they be low enough that even the poorest among us could afford their shares. One person’s vote, one person’s share of legitimate government services, one person’s share of the bill.

As a third choice — and a distant third, at that — I would opt for a flat percentage that applies to everyone equally – not absolving the poor by having them pay nothing and not penalizing the rich by having them pay a higher percentage. Thus there is no incentive to earn less and get subsidized, and no disincentive from earning more and getting bumped into a higher tax bracket.

* One caveat – During the Civil War, there were ten years of an unconstitutional income tax on individuals.

If 51% of the people in this room vote to take your purse or wallet and divide its contents among themselves, does that make it right?

As we just saw in the answer above on the rich paying more than the poor in taxes, God established and recognizes private property rights, even including them in the Ten Commandments. Simply put, thou shalt not covet and thou shalt not steal. Whether taking one’s substance by violence (Proverbs 1:10-19) or by democratically voting and assuming control over another person’s purse, the end result is the same — coveting and then taking property from its rightful owners.

I would argue that the same principle applies regarding taxation, whether that is the income tax at the federal and state levels or the property tax at the local level.

That is — if 51% of the people desire to fund entitlements, certain medical procedures or medications, interventionist military occupations, leftist-leaning public schools, or other things you may find morally or Scripturally inexcusable (or simply unworthy of your hard-earned dollars), by what authority can that 51% appropriate your God-given substance and use it to fund those activities you oppose? They can seize it simply because we have lost much of our Christian heritage and have moved from being a God-honoring republic to becoming a secular democracy where mob-rule is lauded and exported around the world.

Just because the current system is legal does not make it right, and we should work within what legal means we have to help effect a restoration of a more God-honoring system of government. That may involve voting, lobbying legislators, educating others who may be ignorant of our heritage or Biblical principles, and raising the next generation of voters to carefully consider the size and scope of government from a Biblical worldview.

Continue with Ten Questions, Part 2

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The Initiative-Stripping Power of Taxation

As twenty-first century Americans, we labor under enormous levels of taxation and witness the preferential application of those taxes to some people, groups, and businesses, while others are spared.  Both taxes and subsidies have consequences and are used by government to shape citizens’ behavior.  A taxed activity becomes less desirable and thus less common, while a subsidized activity becomes more attractive.  The higher the tax rate, the less attractive any given activity becomes.  When the burdens of taxation cause more pain than a person is willing to bear, he or she will make a change to reduce that pain — whether that means moving a business, closing it down outright, selling property that has become too over-taxed to keep, or leaving the job market rather than keep working for a fraction of what is really earned.

What do I mean by working for a fraction?  Simply look at any given paycheck.  Before you ever see it, the federal government requires your employer to withhold your Social Security tax (6.2%); in theory they are putting it away for your retirement in a “trust fund” or in a “lock box”.  Unfortunately, they don’t actually save it for you — it’s already been spent by the time it reaches Washington.  Future Social Security payments will be funded by future workers’ contributions, not by anything set aside from what you sent in.  In addition, your check is missing the 1.45% for Medicare.  You may believe that’s withheld and set aside to provide your future healthcare at the time you start receiving your Social Security-based retirement payments.  But however altruistic the intent might sound, they aren’t saving that for you either.  They’re using it to pay today’s bills, and you’ll be relying on future workers to pay the bills when you retire and get sick.

Along with Social Security and Medicare taxes, your Federal income tax gets withheld, ranging from 10 to 35% (depending on your income).  Maine state income tax takes from 2 to 8.5% (again, depending on your income).  If you’re self-employed, then you get an extra tax of 7.65% to make up for the Social Security and Medicare portions that an employer isn’t sending in on your behalf.  So, that looks like anywhere from 17 to 58% of your money has been taken from you before you ever see it.

Does that seem like a reasonable amount?  Even during Egypt’s great famine, when the people sold everything they had to Pharaoh — including themselves as slaves — they only had to give 20% to Pharaoh [Genesis 47:20-26].  When the Israelites demanded a king rather than judges, Samuel warned them that they would lose 10% to the demands of the king [I Samuel 8:11-18].  Yet, somehow we think that 17 to 58% is normal and reasonable in a “free” society?  At least the state and federal governments have left you between 42 and 83% of your own money, right?  Sadly, no.

Before you spend anything of what’s left, it’s necessary to start saving up to pay the property tax that will be due within the year…paying for the privilege of keeping the land you already own.  If you think your property tax is too high this year, you could pick up your phone to call the town office and complain, but the telephone company adds roughly 30% to your phone bill for various taxes and government-mandated fees.

Instead of calling, you could drive down to the town office to complain…except that you need to be licensed by the state, and using your car requires you to pay a yearly excise tax, as well as get a state-mandated inspection and a state-approved insurance policy.  You’ll also need gas to get there, which includes nearly 50 cents per gallon for state and federal taxes.

If you’d rather skip the taxes for the phone and the car, you could just walk to the nearest store to buy a pad of paper and a box of envelopes; then you could put your over-taxation concerns in writing.  You can’t escape taxation there either, though — your envelopes and paper just cost an extra 5% for sales tax.  If you find a better deal for your writing supplies online and decide to place an order, then the state will be more than happy to charge you “use tax” when you file your yearly income tax, simply for the privilege of using items in Maine that you bought elsewhere.

At this point, it might be tempting to just accept the status quo and decide that complaining would only subject you to further taxation.  What better way to unwind than to just walk back to the store, buy yourself a sandwich, and sit down in the sunshine and relax?   Relaxation is fleeting, however, when you realize that your sandwich just came at a 7% premium because the state government wants to penalize you for buying prepared foods.  The soda you bought with your sandwich also required an extra 5 cent deposit because the state doesn’t think you’ll recycle the bottle unless they hold your nickel hostage.

Having witnessed just some of the taxation — which now touches nearly every aspect of life — it seems all that’s left is to stay home and save your money.  Although, if you keep it in the bank and earn any interest, it’s taxable as income.  If you put it in other investments (real estate, stocks, precious metals, etc.), you’ll get to pay capital gains taxes.  You might be able to hide your cash in your mattress, but with the Feds’ printing presses rolling out more dollars, government-driven inflation will shrink your hidden dollars’ value every year.

What is the solution?  Be as free as you can today, while fighting for your children to be more free tomorrow.  Avoid debt.  Do not depend on the government for services that should be in the jurisdictions of family, church, and local community.  Learn Biblical principles and how they influenced early American history and our Founders’ vision.  Realize how far we have fallen as a people.  Vote for leaders who love liberty and embrace the Christian principles that were central to the country’s founding.  And pray that the hearts of the American people will turn to God in a mighty way, relying on Him for their protection and provision.

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