Giving to Ceasar
“But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” Matthew 17:27
In setting up this new ministry, my husband and I discussed the idea of seeking a tax exempt status. Churches under the current law sort of get an automatic exemption, particularly previously established churches. I looked into it, and after much prayer determined that even though we are indeed a ministry, and would likely qualify for tax exempt status in many ways, I will not seek that particular status. I would like to take a moment to explain why, since it is my hope that others will share their financial gifts to help support and expand this ministry.
Today’s churches gained tax exempt status many years ago. This was done because society had determined that churches were in themselves a public good that provided enough other benefits to society that their income and property should not be taxed. This is reasonable, and since the churches are all supported by the money of God’s faithful, it is very important that they be good stewards of those finances. However, for the last hundred years or more, our tax code has become more and more complex and the churches have found themselves in a predicament. They risk their tax exempt status if they speak to issues of political import or about politicians from the pulpit or in church related events.
This has led to entire areas of life that the churches are hesitant to speak on for fear of retribution. Debt, abortion, homosexuality, unwed motherhood, the causes of poverty, war, corruption, basically any salacious headline you see in the news. And those headlines are growing in number and frequency because the powers of the world have little by little, effectively gagged the voice of God on anything they can call “politics.” I mentioned the spiritual schizophrenia we experience as Christians, this is a large part of where it stems from. The church teaches a Bible that is meant to be lived all the time, but leaves many critical areas of life unaddressed.
Please understand this is not a condemnation of the churches. I know many pastors and church administrators that are frustrated and seek ways to carry God’s teaching within the web of restrictions that have been imposed. I know they are working on it. But, in starting something new, something that is designed to speak to those very issues that many would tag politics, I have decided to go with Christ’s example in Matthew. I could seek tax exemption. I could fight it if I ever got hit with trouble for speaking what God calls me to. I would rather just pay the tax, trust God to provide it, and begin as I mean to go on, speaking exactly what God desires me to speak to the best of my capabilities every single day. Be blessed and be a blessing.