My recent novel, The Melody of the Mulberries, set in Appalachia in the late 1920s, includes a continued racial and legal dilemma from the first story in the Big Creek series. At that time, and until the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of Loving v. Virginia, it was against the law for people of different skin colors to marry. The characters in my story are forced to make the difficult decision of obeying or disobeying the law.
I won’t give away what happens in The Melody of the Mulberries, but the situation addressed certainly gives food for thought, and it runs into another issue that is often difficult to obey.
I often have a bad attitude about income taxes. A couple of years ago, I prepared the information, sent it off to the accountant, and then received a coupon of sorts which I mailed to the I.R.S. with the additional taxes owed.
I then realized when reviewing the income tax return that I’d made a mistake.
To correct the mistake meant paying additional tax preparation fees and also additional money owed to the government.
In all honesty, I waffled back and forth for a couple days about correcting the information. I am not sure what that says about my character but since the amount was trivial it didn’t seem worth my effort, the efforts of our ministry bookkeeper, or the efforts of our already extremely busy accountant.
THEN, during my personal time with God, I read Romans 13.
“Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.” (Romans 13:7 NLT)
The passage begins by discussing the importance of submitting to governing authorities. Authority comes from God, and that those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.
Romans 13:2 goes a step further in saying that those who rebel against authority are rebelling against what God instituted. Romans 13:4 (NLT) states, “The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course, you should be afraid for they have the power to punish you.”
As I continued my study in Romans, the following verse gave clear direction about my tax dilemma, “Pay your taxes, too…” (Romans 13:6 NLT). I sent the corrected information to the accountant, and the return was amended, and additional money paid.
For the record, I don’t believe in blind obedience. I don’t believe in following an institution that doesn’t follow God, but I do believe God puts people in all types of authority (family, church, communities, politics), and, as a Christian, I am mandated by God to recognize authority, pray for those in authority and to be respectful and honoring of those in leadership.
As a gentle reminder, it is very important to file taxes on time!
Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers about the importance of timely filing and paying their taxes, and that there are several options available to help people having trouble paying.
For those who need it, here is a list of Free Tax Preparation Software.
Taxpayers should file on time, even if they can’t pay the full amount due. Then, they should pay the rest as soon as they can. Remember, the sooner paid, the less owed.
- Avoid added interest and penalties.
- Avoid losing future refunds. Part or all of any refund is first used to pay any back taxes owed.
- Safeguard credit. If the IRS files a tax lien against a taxpayer, it could affect credit scores and make it harder to get a loan.
a) When is it okay to break the law?
b) In the times in which we live, what circumstances might we face where that decision would need to be made?
c) If we suffer for obeying authorities, will the Lord show Himself faithful to us?