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?

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On the Difference Between Rendering to Caesar and Rendering to God

No Double Dipping

Let’s be very clear about one thing:

Mark 12:17 says:

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

It does NOT say:

“Render to God whatever you want, and Caesar must render to you a tax credit as if you rendered it to Caesar.”

the art of saving face: u.s. house rejects tax deal

Monopoly Poor TaxThe Democrats have finally outmaneuvered the Republicans (for once).

And everyone’s a winner, because saving face while getting nothing done has become an art form in Washington. Just look at the results of how the debate concerning the extension of the Bush tax cuts transpired.

The Republicans will take control of the House just as the nation’s taxes go up. And while they will blame the outgoing Democratic leadership for the increase (they rejected the deal after all), the Republicans will be stuck in the unenviable position of having to argue for tax breaks, which will grossly increase the nation’s deficit, after they’ve spent the past year saying we should reduce the deficit. However, Republicans can claim credit for championing tax breaks for all Americans, can take credit for the inevitable reduction of the deficit (due to increased tax revenues) as they take control of the House, and now can rally their conservative base by claiming that the evil Democrats are responsible for the nation’s tax increase. It’s a win-win for Republicans.

President Obama comes out looking good, because despite not getting the tax cuts he claims he wanted for some of the American people, he rode into town to save the day and worked in a bi-partisan way with Republicans in an effort to keep taxes down, which should help him garner some votes among moderates and Republicans in the upcoming 2012 Presidential election. But, since the House rejected his deal, taxes do indeed go up (which is what President Obama wanted for at least the wealthy), and as the economy continues to recover, he’ll be in line to both take credit for improving the disastrous economy he inherited from his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, and get credit for working with Republicans to cut taxes. It’s a win-win for the President.

House Democrats win too. They can now go back to their districts and claim that they defeated the Republican minority (for once) and even stood up to their own President, which will earn them fervent support from those on the left. Taxes will go up on the wealthiest Americans (which Democrats want) and everyone else as well, but Democrats can blame a sell-out President and the evil Republicans for the tax increase, which will please their liberal base. It’s a win-win for House Democrats.

This is the art of saving face and it’s hard to imagine that something akin to the deal described above was not discussed somewhere in some back room at some high level.

Everyone gets what they want, everyone’s base is energized, everyone saves face, and everyone wins…except us, the taxpayers, who pay more taxes while nothing gets done.

This is the state of modern politics in America.

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