How much do we ‘owe’ Caesar? I’d venture to say that most of us who value our hard work and the fruits of our labor don’t want to give much of it to Caesar. Especially when you see how our tax money is spent. Are the expenditures really necessary or payback for political favor? Is there corruption that could be eliminated? Are there efficiencies to be gained? Where should Christians stand on these issues?
Civil governments are ordained by God and act as service institutions, so they are in need of tax money to pay for the rendered services. Jesus states that Caesar is due tax money because he (Caesar) performs those services. (Matthew 22:21)
Jesus did not endorse the way Caesar governed, but He upheld the biblical institution of civil government and its authority to exact limited taxation. Jesus drew a distinction between God and His things and Caesar and his things. Jesus did not want to make equal the claim of God and the claim of Caesar. God has a rightful claim to all that we have, Caesar does not.
The distinction Jesus drew requires us to obey Caesar, but only within the limited jurisdiction or scope of Caesar’s authority. Because Caesar is not God, Caesar’s authority is not absolute, and neither is his claim to obedience. Because Caesar is not God, he doesn’t own all things, his claim on us in regard to taxation is not absolute.
This is where the issue becomes blurred. Yes we want to obey ‘render unto Caesar’ but at what point is Caesar’s request/demands becoming the god of our lives? Are we obligated to pay taxes that fund abortions? Are we obligated to pay for schools that teach homosexuality as an acceptable way of life?
First, the church needs to nurture its members through instruction, worship and discipline so that the ungodly will not be elected. Christians have the freedom and duty to vote for responsible leadership, using the standard of God’s Laws as the measure for their political choices. While we are commanded to ‘submit’ to those in authority over us, we are not commanded to blindly worship those in authority over us.