How Do You Justify Public Education Taxation?
- 2005 19 Aug
We had just received our semiannual tax bill. Oh the joys of being a home-owner! For some reason, it had never dawned on me how much of our tax money went to the local school district which our children didn't attend.
The idea of paying for something that I'd never get or use would have eaten away at me a few years ago. I've changed, however. Now I realize that the Lord "daily loadeth us with benefits" (Psalm 68:19). He has provided my wife and me with more blessings and joys than we could possibly number. Each day we get full "retail value" grace and mercy-- at less than wholesale costs-- even considering the fact that we are continually required to pay for the public education which our children won't ever receive.
Oh, sure, if I stew over something long enough, I can get put-out. By dwelling on the negative I could probably give myself ulcers, hives, and send my blood pressure into orbit. That won't be my choice, though. Instead, I'll let the principals of Philippians 4:8 guide my heart and mind. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." In His awesome faithfulness, God graciously provides a solace for my heart and mind through the Scriptures, and I'd like to share a few of those gems with you.
Beginning with Matthew 17:24-27, one will find the Publicans asking Peter, "Doth not your master pay tribute?" Jesus follows up with His rich, calming words of wisdom, "lest we should offend them... go thou... find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee" (Italics mine).
Moving on to 22:15-22 we see Christ's discernment at work as the Pharisees attempted to entangle Him by their worldly wisdom. "Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar or not?" they questioned. His reply was bold and clever, "Whose is the image and superscription?" (don't you just love the way He answered their question with another question?). "Caesar's," they said. With graceful eloquence Jesus spoke, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's..."
Lastly, I find comfort and peace through the apostle Paul's instruction to the Roman Christians. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Wherefore ye must needs be subject... for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also... Render therefore to all their dues... (Romans 13:1, 5, 6a, 7a [Italics mine]).
In these Scripture passages I didn't find a single place where Christ or His followers complained, tried to get out of paying taxes, asked to whom the money was going, or what it was going to support. It was only money, and God was capable of providing all that they needed.
As homeschooling parents we must never become so self-consumed that we forget these very important facts:
- There's nothing wrong with supporting those in the community who attend public school.
- In some public schools, teachers still take their Bibles to class, witness, invite children and coworkers to church, pray for their students, and give them spiritual guidance, hope and encouragement. Yes, believe it or not, they are out there; I know some of them.
- We are strangers and pilgrims in this land, and are expected --like Jesus in Capernaum-- to pay tribute.
- The Lord will provide for our needs. King David said he had never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread (Psalm 37:25).
- Jesus didn't dictate what the world would do (or not do) with the money He paid in taxes: when He gave it, it was theirs.
- Many public schools do permit homeschooled children to participate in athletic programs and extra-curricular activities that are mutually beneficial.
- Resentment, murmuring, and complaining are not attitudes that reflect Christ's character. There are proper and biblical ways to make appeals if you have been treated unjustly, but grumbling and moaning aren't part of them. A few years ago, I thought my new property tax appraisal contained a discrepancy and inaccurately reflected the true-value of my home. I went to the Treasurer's office and spoke calmly and respectfully to them. I produced acceptable evidence for my case with a humble spirit. I knew the ultimate decision would be theirs, but I also knew that the men and women who worked there were human beings and capable of oversights. Furthermore, I believed that if I treated them with respect and consideration (as opposed to ranting and raving) they would respond favorably--and they did.
On the more personal side, I view my support of the local school district as a small price to pay for some lofty, generous privileges:
- My wife and I have the freedom to home school our children--that's worth a bunch!
- We choose our own curriculum--again, priceless.
- My children have individualized instruction five days a week-- couldn't afford that for the same price.
- The risk of finding out my children are "falling through the cracks" academically is drastically reduced (can you put a dollar value on peace of mind?).
- The risk of our children abandoning our faith is radically reduced.
- Jesus Christ and the Gospel message are incorporated into every day's reading and writing.
- Discipline is administered in the proper dose and precisely when it is needed--no surprises when report cards come out or parent/teacher conferences are scheduled.
If you think about your commitment to the homeschooling lifestyle, you will realize there are more demands upon your time, energy, character, heart, mind, and faith than there will ever be on our bank accounts. I'm sure the Lord God planned it that way. I'm also convinced God has a wonderful way of providing for all of the demands on our lives...even money for taxes that support schools which our children do not attend.
Homeschooling is a privilege and privileges don't come without responsibilities. So I'll "render therefore" another check unto the Treasurer for my property taxes and pay my part to the local school district. It's a responsibility that I can joyfully fulfill...and I thank God for it. He has been so good to me.
Timothy Palla is the pastor of Fairview Baptist church in the Lucasville/Minford area of southern Ohio. He and his lovely wife, Jennifer, have five children: Drew, Dane, Aidan, Ethan and Meghan and have homeschooled for over eleven years. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org