Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Sign Of Things To Come

Saw this news story today: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

A federal judge has found unconstitutional a law that lets clergy members avoid paying income taxes on compensation that is designated part of a housing allowance.

The decision Friday by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb could have far-reaching financial ramifications for pastors, who currently can use the untaxed income to pay rental housing costs or the costs of home ownership, including mortgage payments and property taxes

While many are wringing their hands and crying persecution over this, I see it differently.

First this is a sign of things to come. It should come as no surprise that tax breaks are going away, maybe not completely today but soon. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. The world has largely given up on the church as anything other than an anachronistic relic of the past and we must be prepared to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a nation that has long been religious but also just as long has been filled with false converts and empty moralistic religious observation. With each passing year the culture will grow more hostile to the actual church and intolerant of the Gospel message of coming judgment of sin that can only be propitiated through faith in Christ. We need to be preparing for the days to come, not bemoaning how "persecuted" we are and looking back with longing to days that are gone and never to return this side of the second coming of Christ.

Second, the church should never have entered this arrangement in the first place. Being partners with Caesar when Caesar holds the purse strings and can grant or withhold tax breaks has made the church beholden to the state. Sure we got nifty tax break as long as we did the governments bidding, acting as an agent for marriage and providing a moral compass to keep believer and unbeliever alike pliable and controllable. Now that the church has largely lost our already questionable influence, the partnership of convenience is coming to an end and the church is left looking around confused as Caesar takes away with the stroke of a pen what Caesar granted by the same method. The perverse partnership between church and state in America has largely been a positive for America and a negative for the church. With each decision like this one that symbiosis fades away.

Be of good cheer church. We don't need tax breaks or deductions for giving or the approval of the state for covenant marriage between believers. Let us let go of these false idols and be the church amidst a land that is an amazing field for harvest. Caesar can keep his tax breaks because when the true King returns those tax breaks will be shown to be meaningless and fidelity to Christ is all that will truly matter.


Steve Scott said...

Entering a formal relationship with the state doesn't quite sound like the "separation of church and state" idea that many people believe in, does it?

Norm M. said...

I think your assessment is spot on. Thanks for providing a positive outlook on this situation. I, too, think that the body of Christ will benefit from this decision. The more the that Christianity is separated from politics, the more pure it is bound to become.