Updated: Dec 15, 2021
The Role of Government
“Therefore, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's”
What is Caesar?
The Apostle Paul best described what Caesar is in the famous Romans 13 passage. In verses 3-4 he states, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. For he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.” Founding Father, John Adams reiterates Paul’s words in one of his memoirs stating, “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people.” So, Caesar is meant for good, a structure created to stabilize and help a society prosper.
But because of mans fallen nature, history and even the present day have proven Caesar has not always lived up to this description. However, without Caesar, chaos would rule. James Madison said it best in the Federalist Papers, “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Most people know, except maybe those who scream to defund the police, that Caesar is necessary in order to maintain peace, execute justice for all, and protect and defend its citizens from foreign and domestic threats. In Matthew 22:21 Jesus recognizes and legitimizes Caesar, but He also limits Caesar by drawing a line between what belongs to him and what belongs to God.
What Belongs to Caesar?
Law and order belong to Caesar. In Ephesians, Paul talks about the full armor of God. Imagine Caesar (government) as the sword that executes justice (judicial), the shield, helmet, and breastplate that protects and defends (military), and the belt and shoes that upholds and maintains peace (policing). Caesar is the armor and weapon that outwardly protects the body (citizens) from threats. The judiciary, military, and police are the primary jobs belonging to Caesar.
Paying appropriate taxes to Caesar to fulfill those primary jobs is not only biblical (Romans 13:7) but practical. Caesar is the people’s employee and our taxes are his paycheck. It is no different than hiring a musician to play music. However, once you stop paying, the music stops playing. The same is true with Caesar; if we don’t pay any taxes, then security and justice falls into the hands of the individual, which no one but anarchists and tyrannical egomaniacs would want. But taxes collected by Caesar for means other than Caesar’s job, such as social welfare programs, is unbiblical and criminal. Whether you’re Robin Hood or Caesar, forcefully taking money from people to give to others is not noble, it's theft. Not to mention the welfare of the needy is God’s (Church) responsibility, not Caesar’s.
What Doesn't Belong to Caesar?
The minds and hearts of the people belong to God, not to Caesar. Caesar protects the people’s freedom of thought and devotion; Caesar does not influence them. Thomas Jefferson put it best in his famous letter to the Danbury Baptists, “the legitimate powers of government is actions only, not opinions”. However, even Caesar’s actions are limited by the people’s God-given rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Caesar has no right (even during a pandemic) to take away these rights because it was never Caesar who gave them in the first place. They are called God-given rights for a reason, not “Caesar-given” rights. A common mistake many people make is believing their rights come from the Constitution. But in fact, their rights come from God, the Constitution only protects those rights from Caesar violating them. That is why the Founding Fathers said, “congress shall make no law” that will infringe upon people’s God-given rights and freedoms, because they knew their rights belong to God, not to Caesar.
A lot of Americans believe their rights come from the Constitution just like a lot of Christians believe Romans13 means to submit to authorities unconditionally. In Romans 13, Paul clearly states to submit to good government, not bad. Nowhere in scripture does it say to submit to bad government. In fact, there are many examples in scripture that show the exact opposite. For too long the devil has used this lie to keep the church castrated like a submissive dog for secular Caesars to control or violate our God-given rights and freedoms. This past year the deafening silence from Christians on Caesar forcing churches to shut down, and even arrest pastors who refuse to do so, is due to cowardice and ignorance of ones’ own history, laws, and even God!
No longer can we allow Caesar to subjectively give and take away our resources and freedoms. Caesar has a lane to drive in and when he swerves into lanes he shouldn’t, it is up to the Church to confront and correct him. Just like the prophet Samuel did to King Saul and the way Azariah and the eighty other brave priests did to King Uzziah. If we do not, we ultimately replace God with Caesar and that is idolatry. The bigger Caesar is, the smaller the individual becomes. The more Caesar expands, the more our individual rights, freedoms, and pockets shrink. Again, Caesar is the citizens' employee, paid to do its primary job, which is to maintain peace, execute justice, and protect and defend its people. Period.