Life and taxes

A Christian Science perspective: Measuring resources strictly in material terms tends to leave out spiritual power.

A recent Monitor feature on the burden of paying taxes explores some of the intense views people have, especially in hard times. Among other things, some feel that government is running out of money and is too big. Others say there’s too much waste. An undercurrent of fear and anger has contributed to polarizing budgetary decisions.

An antidote to these negative feelings is provided by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science and the Monitor. She wrote: “Divine Love is our hope, strength, and shield. We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 113).

Prayer to support Love-inspired government helps bring peace to those working on the massive budgetary process and also to taxpayers. Even a small understanding of Love’s goodness can do much to remove fear that divides individuals and government and prevents progress.

Love also reveals that measuring resources strictly in material terms tends to leave out the spiritual power that truly energizes a people. If, for example, Jesus had looked in material terms at the seven loaves of bread and a few fish he had as resources to feed more than 4,000 people, he could not have fed them all – and had leftovers besides (see Matt. 15:32-38). That sustaining spiritual power has its focus in Soul, a term for God that includes beauty, peace, purity, goodness.

As Mrs. Eddy wrote: “Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 60). Looking at taxes and the national budget from this spiritual standpoint opens the door to inspiration and creativity instead of desperation.

Instead of seeing it as a mass of numbers – and red ink – it’s possible to translate the budget into spiritual terms. For instance, items that relate to defense can be considered expressions of wisdom; diplomatic activities as opportunities to love our neighbors; food and agriculture as the expression of nurturing qualities; federal disaster response as evidence of love and comfort. All of these are examples of what tax dollars do – but also ways in which prayer can support the goodness of government.

Seeing such functions in spiritual terms can provide genuine insights into what is truly needed and provide a blessing. Such prayer may also reveal what aspects of government are less useful or not appropriate at all, involving waste, fraud, pet projects, and the like. Through our prayers, legislators may be inspired to choose wisdom instead of “politics as usual,” and love instead of rivalry, in their decisions.

Such evaluations can also make it easier to feel better about taxes and our need to pay them. Soul’s infinite resources apply to each individual needing help in a disaster, seeking employment, wanting a better life. It’s legitimate to claim those resources in prayer for all citizens. With divine Love “at the helm of thought,” fear will fade, and we’ll see new ways to work together, to discern intelligent and fair solutions, and to let God lead the way.

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