Theological Insights from a Modern Perspective

Render unto Caesar…

denariusThis is one of the most ignored pieces of advice Jesus ever gave, especially in our times, and is the one that is dragging the church into the proverbial abyss. I am speaking here to the American culture, but I know it is happening more or less in other parts of the world as well.

I seriously doubt there is a real Christian left in the DNC upper echelon, even in the RNC they seem to be a dying breed, as the American government goes from pro-Christian to secular to what seems now a decided anti-Christian attitude. The process started back in 1954 with the Johnson Amendment (Senator, then president, Lyndon Johnson) silenced the church by prohibiting political speech from the pulpit with the threat of loss of their tax-exempt status. In the years since it seems like the government has looked for more ways to involve itself in the affairs of church, while prohibiting the church equal latitude. Educational mandates tied to money assisting with free lunch programs. Medicaid and Medicare money used to interfere with religious affiliated hospitals. And now government healthcare being used to force these hospitals to close or perform abortions against their religious beliefs.

As the years have gone by the Democratic party has done more to trounce on the First Amendment, unimpeded, that they have the Second (they seem to be real good at enforcing the first part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” while ignoring the second part of that amendment, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof“) . The last Democratic defender of religious rights was Gov. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, shot down hard by the Clinton’s in Bill’s first run for office. Since then no one in the Democratic Party has uttered so much as a disagreement to any level of the infanticide rampant in this country (almost 1 million in 2014 alone). Former Sen. Ted Kennedy introduced the “litmus test” for Supreme Court nominees, “there’s going to be an additional test, and that is a commitment to the core values of the Constitution. And the core values of the Constitution now include … a woman’s right to choose.” Had the political right said that before 2001 there would be no abortion of any type in America, for abortion was illegal at that time. Yet, be assured, the Republican’s will cave, time and again, to this agenda, as they shift further left with each cycle.

Prayers have been banned in public events, our rights of free speech all but eliminated. We have gone from being allowed to offer prayers aloud, to moments of silence, to nothing. High schools now routinely review valedictorian speeches ahead of time to assure “nothing offensive” will be in their address (i.e., no mention of God).

In 2014 a group has entered suit to ban crosses at U.S. Military cemeteries overseas, if passed bet on homeland cemeteries being next. People mourning the tragic death of loved ones at roadside memorials have been challenged in court, but only when a cross is involved (one successful suit in California resulted in its’ removal, even though the community involved had nothing to do with its erection).

Let’s look at what has happened in America since the 50’s. Not only has abortion become unrestricted in the US, it is now illegal for any hospital to refuse to grant an abortion. Yes, there are challenges to the law bound for the Supreme Court, but with the death of one of the Court’s staunchest opponents to abortion (Justice Scolia), the most pro-abortion President this country has ever seen will use the DNC litmus test to assure the next justice will do everything possible to continue unfettered infanticide, and bet it will be a young justice who will assure this policy for many years to come.

Now, lest you think I pick on one party over the other, the Republican’s are not innocent in this. While Johnson promoted the amendment, it was a Republican controlled Congress and Presidency who passed it without debate. Despite their claims to be pro-life, the Republican party’s nominees to the Supreme Court passed many of the abortion laws – 1973 RvW 6 of the 9 were Republican appointees; 2004 Partial Birth Abortion was deemed legal in a 5-4 vote, 7 of 9 were Republican appointees (it has since been reversed).

So, what does all of this have to do with Jesus’ advice of “render unto Caesar”? Simple, thanks to government tax laws and churches wanting those breaks over God’s message, the pulpit in America has been silenced from speaking out against anti-Christian politicians, and from supporting pro-Christian politicians, while the other side has been unfettered in promoting politicians opposing Christian views. This goes to the core of Jesus’ statement. The Jewish priestly elite were deeply in bed with the Roman government. Oh, they didn’t like paying the taxes, but they did it to keep the peace so that their positions and soft life were assured. Jesus’ advice was to give back to Roman what came from them, while giving to God the devotion due Him. Similarly, we sit quietly by, allowing the government to move past secularism, to protect our tax-exempt status, and our government handouts. The churches sat quietly by while all of this was happening, and only now that their income streams are challenged are they speaking out (but still holding tightly to the government purses). How long will God’s people be kept silent? “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt 6:24) It is (past) time for us to choose.

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