“To whom much is given, much will be required.” Those are words from the Gospel of Luke, and were recently used by our President at the National Prayer Breakfast. While Luke would probably scoff at the idea of his (rather, God’s) words being used as a means through which to prop up the concept of redistribution of wealth, that’s just exactly what our president just did.
In context, however, this Biblical passage could be far more adequately affixed to his position as President of the United States of America than to the economic and social controversy of how much the most successful in this nation should pay in taxes.
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus wasn’t even discussing money exclusively in the excerpt that the president so brazenly lassoed for his own political purposes. Rather, Jesus was talking about the Christian’s responsibility to use his or her blessings and gifts for the good of the kingdom of the Lord. Let’s look at that section in context, shall we?
“And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (Luke 41-48).
In other words, if you are blessed more than others with talents, abilities, monetary stability, etc. etc., more will be expected of you in the context of furthering the kingdom of God than those who are otherwise less fortunate in any of these areas. More is expected in this regard of the healthy, financially stable, talented young man than the sickly, elderly, less financially stable old man. Again- all in the context of the kingdom’s work.
Am I supposed to pretend I see the reference to taxation for the redistribution of wealth here, much like the people in the children’s tale “The Emperor’s Clothes” pretended to see a wonderful garment when in fact the man was completely naked? Furthermore, why would Jesus contradict himself by injecting himself in matters of government/taxation when just a few verses earlier he made it clear that that wasn’t the point of his being on earth? For those who aren’t familiar with this particular chapter of Luke, I’ll explain. I find it amusing that the President conveniently left out a fascinating exchange in Luke 12 between Jesus and a man in the crowd. This man obviously didn’t feel that he was getting his fair share of the family money, and was whining about it in a fashion eerily similar to the Occupy Wall Street children, whining about how they “deserve” the money of the execs on Wall Street and elsewhere:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” (Luke 12:13-14)
Isn’t it INTERESTING is that Jesus shuts the man down by saying that he’s not going to get involved in earthly disputes over wealth. How intriguing.
Going back to the verses at hand, financial abundance is part of the “responsibility” Jesus is discussing here and as such, Jesus is reminding those who are blessed monetarily to use their blessings in a manner which best serves the kingdom of God. What’s important to remember here is that Jesus said nothing of a proposal that the government demand a higher percentage from the rich. Being charitable with one’s blessings IS being a good steward of one’s blessings! That’s FINE, but again, who said anything about taxation? The president took Jesus’ words and hijacked (yeah, I said it) them for his own political ideology.
If the President is going to quote Scripture, let’s focus on the 10 commandments for a moment. “Thou shalt not covet,” and “Thou shalt not steal.” What is demonizing the rich simply for having more, and in turn taking more from them than others, than covetousness and “soft” theft? Let me be clear- I am not anti-taxes. I do not view taxation as stealing from the American people; nonetheless, I think that it is unfair to ask one group of people to give a higher percentage for the exact same programs as someone who pays a minimal percentage, or as we’ve uncovered recently, NO percentage! I do view a progressive income tax as wrong. I believe that Americans should be asked to contribute the exact same percentage (which for the wealthy, would be a HIGHER quantity than the poor) for the exact same government programs.
Of course, when you see yourself as a modern day Robin Hood, taking from the rich and giving to the poor, the President and those who agree with him do not view themselves as coveting or stealing. Though even in that analysis the President would be wrong. The Robin Hood figure, despite methods I may not approve of per se, wasn’t stealing from the rich merchant or the rich farmer. Rather, when King Richard departed for the Crusades and left his brother, Prince John in his place, John instituted no less than martial law. John and his men took unlawfully from the people, far and beyond what the law under Richard stated. The Robin Hood figure was simply returning the unlawfully taken goods. I have, however, digressed.
If it’s true that Jesus expected more of the rich than of the less fortunate, and that’s a central component of the President’s so-called Christian faith, how are his charitable donations doing? Oh that’s right. In the year prior to running for the presidency, the Obamas gave just 6 percent (or roughly $240,000) of their 4.2 million dollar combined reported income. Now, don’t get me wrong, $240,000 is no paltry sum, but when “to whom much is given, much will be required” they can only afford to cough up 6%? That is, by the way, a vast increase as compared to before he started toying around with a run for the presidency. Prior to this, he donated far less; at times just barely 1 percent. A quick rundown:
And correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the President has paid a penny more in taxes than was legally required. That IRS donation fund is still waiting for his extra check. After all, shouldn’t he live what he preaches? You’d think, but when you believe that you are in fact just a bit higher than the rest of mankind, I suppose just talking about it fulfills one’s responsibility. Oh and Vice President Biden is even better. He gave a whopping average of $369 a year in charitable contributions in the decade prior to his vice presidency. His tax returns from the year the article was written (2008) topped $300,000.00, including $71,000.000 in royalties. How posh. Of course, they upped their game big time in the election year, giving a staggering $995.00. Whew. I’m just overwhelmed with their generosity. But he and the president sure would like the chance to give with YOUR money!
As my wise father pointed out, if Obama really believes what he said in his heart, why does he need a law to force himself and others to be charitable? What was stopping him from being an example and paying his fair share in taxes and in charitable donations? For that matter, what is fair? Is it 30%? 40%? 60%? Or as his father once said, “theoretically there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed.” (Dinesh D’Souza: The Roots of Obama’s Rage, 2010.)
It’s a shame that more of the American people are not familiar with the story of Davy Crockett. Let me rectify that now. During his time in the House of Representatives, a bill came up that would have set up a fund of public dollars for the widow of a distinguished naval officer. As worthy as the cause may have been, Crockett recognized that it was not the government’s place to obligate the American taxpayer to foot the bill for a charity that they deemed worthy. He famously stated:
“Mr. Speaker – I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money.”
He went on to discuss his reasoning behind his opposition. Most importantly, he ended his speech with the following words:
“I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.” (The Life of Colonel David Crockett: Edward S. Ellis, 1884)
In other words, he got the bill defeated, and then stood up and took out his own wallet to help the widow.
I realize that we’ve discussed many things here today, but in the end, my point is simply this: Mr. President, push your agenda according to its principles, and don’t put words in Jesus’ mouth in an effort to make it look like it’s somehow unchristian of us to suggest that your policies are fallacious, and doomed to the exact same fate as each place around the world that they’ve been tried.
And lastly, Mr. President, you’ve been given much power, and with it, much responsibility. How have you used them? Maybe I should asked the millions of unemployed or underemployed Americans. Or the thousands and thousands of failed businesses. Or the millions of unborn Americans already saddled with the debt that you once called “unpatriotic.”