Comments made by Ben Carson, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, at the National Prayer Breakfast have received a lot of attention the past few days. While he spoke about a lot of things, the thing I took interest in were his comments about tithing and the analogies he made concerning our progressive income tax.
The fairest person he knows, according to Carson, is God who required 10% of everyone regardless of their financial situation, whether in a lean year or a fat one. 10% regardless of circumstances or financial station in life.
Now, I think a sincere, fair-minded person could suggest such a tax policy and that it should be considered on its merits. What I have a problem with is the way he cherry-picked one aspect of Israel’s economic structure to support his point.
If you’re going to pick an aspect of Israel’s economic policy, why not start with the prohibition against charging interest. Or how about forgiving debt every seven years (my current favorite). Or how about allowing land to revert to its original owner every fifty years. Or how about leaving part of your profits in the field for the sake of the widow or orphan or alien.
I think when taken all together it is clear that the economic aspects of the law are designed to take care of the helpless, not to take advantage of those in need, and to make sure that no one is buried under the mistakes of the past.
I doubt that my suggestions has any chance of becoming law, anymore than the principle of a tithe has of becoming our tax policy. My point with this little post is to suggest that we should take great care when using texts that represent a very different social circumstance than our own as policy suggestions for today.