Ask Your Preacher
What do you, and more importantly, God, think about claiming contribution on tax returns? This is something I can't seem to figure out.
Dear Tax Time,
Jesus answered all tax questions when He said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and render to God the things that are God’s” (Mk 12:17). What Jesus meant was that the government decides what you do with its money… after all, it is called U.S. currency for a reason (in Jesus’ day, it was Caesar’s face minted on the coins). Christians have a responsibility to pay whatever taxes the government says they should pay. That also means we don’t have to pay taxes if the government says we don’t have to – if Caesar doesn’t want it back, that’s his choice! In the United States of America, we are allowed to claim our charitable contributions on our taxes. It is legal to do so, and it is allowed by God to take advantage of that luxury as long as we have it.
Should churches remain tax-exempt?
It certainly is a blessing from God that churches are tax-exempt in the United States, but the Lord’s people will accept whatever circumstances come our way if that ever changes. Christians have existed in lands that were favorable and ones that weren’t. In either case, Christ tells us to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Lk 20:22-25). Christians are commanded to pay their taxes, and therefore, a local church would accept the same responsibility if need be (Rom 13:7). After all, faithful churches in the U.S. already pay sales tax on consumables that they purchase for their use (from paper towels to copy paper). Whatever happens, the church will still be doing the Lord’s will and preaching His Bible.
Is it scriptural to hold Libertarian political views?
To The Polls
Dear To The Polls,
It depends on the political views. Every political group has beliefs that agree with Scriptures and beliefs that contradict Scriptures. A Christian needs to assess everything they believe off of the Scriptures and never be so beholden to any given political party that they ignore Scripture in order to hold to the party line. Christianity transcends politics and earthly national views. Christians are a part of a holy nation that upholds the will of God above all else (1 Pet 2:9).
Do prophets make good advisors for kings of Israel?
Dear Seeking Counsel,
Prophets did make good advisors, but today there are no prophets (read “The Lost Art Of Prophecy” for details). The kings of Israel would inquire of God all the time for all sorts of things. The first king of Israel, Saul, was upset because God would no longer answer his inquiries when Saul started behaving wickedly (1 Sam 28:6). King David asked for God’s advice even when it came to battle tactics (2 Sam 5:23). It was commonplace for the righteous kings to ask God for advice in all sorts of spheres.
If a couple gets married by a christian pastor but does not record it with the local government, how does God view it? I would assume He deems it legal and binding. But, of course, the government does not view it as legal and binding. Thank you for answering my question!
Dear Veiled Vows,
Whether or not the marriage is legitimate could very much be debated, but there is really no Biblical precedent for being “married before God” and not married before the law. Christians are supposed to obey the laws of the land (Rom 13:1-3). In fact, you can't even find a verse that says marriages need to be performed by religious figures. If a religious figure could perform a marriage ceremony without legal documentation... why couldn't a Justice of the Peace perform the same ceremony without legal documentation? The religious leader doesn’t have any more biblical authority to skip the paperwork than the civil leader would.
The Scriptures say that people should get married rather than live together in a sinful relationship (1 Cor 6:18), AND they say that we should obey the laws of the land (1 Pet 2:13-15). In your scenario, the couple would be obeying one command… but not the other (if they are “not legally married”, that – by definition – means they would be doing something they believe/know is illegal). We can’t simply obey some of God’s laws and forsake the others. The sum of God’s Word is truth (Ps 119:160).