Just because a government is capable of taxing its citizens and giving the money to another citizen or state doesn’t mean it is a good idea. Recently I was reading an article from our CRC brothers north of the 49th parallel that was extolling the fact that Christians could and should rejoice that money is being given to all sorts of social causes and international issues. This seems to be to be a fundamental misunderstanding of government and a blurring of the lines between charity, the church and taxation.
Here is what I mean. Government exists to ensure the protection of individuals and their property. And so taxation should extend only insofar as it is to accomplish this goal. Charity on the other hand is an individual choice to support someone or some issue that falls outside the purview of government but which is still deemed to be of importance. In fact, it is deemed to be of such importance that individuals willingly and cheerfully give of their own resources in order to care for these compelling needs. And the church stands ready to speak prophetically into both worlds, the world of the government reminding it of its sole purpose – protect life and property not to engage in social engineering or compelling people to care about another individuals pet project. But the church also stands ready to speak into the lives of individuals who all too often forget about the weak and vulnerable or who are unwilling to give freely and cheerfully to care for their neighbor.
Unfortunately, we in the western world, have forgotten that not every problem is a government problem and not every solution needs to flow through federal, state or even a local bureaucracy. We have much better and more efficient ways of serving the poor, through voluntary charitable organizations that allow real people to give to real projects that are really on their hearts.
So while the mantra so commonly touted, “Budgets are moral documents” may be true, the conclusion that many draw that a governmental budget without social welfare is immoral is actually a faulty conclusion based upon a faulty assumption – namely that governments are to engage in social welfare. God calls People to engage in social welfare through voluntary associations, not through forced taxation. Let’s never forget that just because a government can do something, that doesn’t mean it should do it, especially when it tramples upon personal freedom and responsibility.