Last week, our family went to Ocean City, New Jersey, where they impose the dreaded beach tax of $5.00 per person over the age of 12. As we were planning the trip, my mind immediately tried to think of ways to avoid the tax. My 12 year old is small for her age, so I could easily pretend she was 11 and save $5.00.
Suddenly, I realized what I would be teaching my children. My 12 year old knows that she is supposed to have a tag and she would know that I did not buy it. My other children would probably discover my failure to pay the $5.00. I think it is ridiculous that Ocean City charges $5.00 for a 12 year old to spend the day on the beach. But, they do. That is the rule. By not paying the $5.00, I would definitely be teaching my children that Dad thinks it is all right to break the rules.
If it is all right to break the rules for a small amount of money like $5.00, where does it stop? At what point does the rule breaking become so big that it is wrong to break the rule?
In reality, $5.00 is a small amount of money. Is saving $5.00 worth losing my integrity before my children? Is it worth sinning before God? It is only $5.00!
I hated spending the money, but as we entered the beach that day, we spent $20.00 for beach tags for every member of my family that was over the age of 12. I hated doing it, but my integrity, the lessons I teach my children, and my standing before God are worth more than $5.00. Unfortunately, the next time I go to Ocean City, I will probably have to pay the beach tax (I doubt they are going to change it), but I don't think I will wrestle with the decision of whether I should pay it.