June 17, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Steal (Except by Majority Vote)

"The civil government is capable of falling into thievery," Douglas Wilson correctly points out today.
Magistrates can steal, as Ahab stole Naboth's vineyard. Stealing is the unlawful taking of someone else's property. At the same, Scripture is also plain that magistrates can tax, and that such taxation is not thievery. Paul is plain that we should pay taxes to whom taxes are due (Rom. 13 7). Up to a point the magistrate is not stealing, and after that point he is. It appears to me that one of the responsibilities we have as Christians is to figure out where that line is.

Those who think about such things biblically know that the sign at that particular border is already small in the rear view mirror. Samuel predicted dire tyranny for Israel when the king would be impudent enough to claim ten percent -- laying claim to the same amount that God did (1 Sam. 8:15). And Joseph placed a levy of twenty percent on the residents of Egypt (Gen. 47:26), and that amount was eloquent testimony to the fact that all things belonged to the government and that they were slaves.
Yes indeed, and as I pointed out 10 years ago in The Daily Oklahoman, the government is now an idol. And it's no secret that idols always demand a sacrifice.