On Taxes, Marriage, and the Poor: Lessons from Luke 3:7-11

“John the Baptist Preaching” by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. 1733. Fresco. Cappella Colleoni Gallery, Bergamo, Italy.

Verse of the day:
Luke 3:7-11:

7) “John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8) Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
9) Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’
10) And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’
11) In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.'”

First, I find it fascinating that John chastised people who came to be baptized.

Second, I find it all the more fascinating that his advice was to give of what you have to those who had nothing.

So let’s review:

1) Don’t come to church just for religious rites.
2) Give away what you have to the poor if you want to be a true child of God.

So tell me: which social, religious, or political party, group, or body best encapsulates this very fundamental, very ‘Christian’ teaching of not worrying about the details of religious rituals and rites and doctrines, and instead focuses on giving goods to and caring for the poor?

And if you’re going to argue that biblical Christian principles should not be legislated when it comes to giving your hard earned money away (i.e., taxes and welfare and health care), then why are you arguing that biblical Christian principles should be legislated on other social issues like same-sex marriage?

Matt 25:35: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, *with a permit* (Houston Revised Edition)

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, with a permit.”
– Matthew 25:35 (Houston Revised Edition)

Bobby "Tre9" Herring, center, prays with John Bradley who had been on the streets for 41/2 months after his roommate lost his job and created financial stress during Feed a Friend anniversary event, Nov. 12, 2010, in Houston, under the Main Street bridge near downtown.

Bobby "Tre9" Herring, center, prays with John Bradley who had been on the streets for 41/2 months after his roommate lost his job and created financial stress during Feed a Friend anniversary event, Nov. 12, 2010, in Houston, under the Main Street bridge near downtown. Photo by Eric Kayne for the Chronicle.

It seems you can’t even help the poor any more without a permit.

Bobby and Amanda Herring spent more than a year providing food to homeless people in downtown Houston every day. They fed them, left behind no trash and doled out warm meals peacefully without a single crime being committed, Bobby Herring said.

That ended two weeks ago when the city shut down their “Feed a Friend” effort for lack of a permit. And city officials say the couple most likely will not be able to obtain one.

Read more of the article by Bradley Olson in the Houston Chronicle here.

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