One of Jesus’ sayings that has been perverted (as many of them have) is when his opponents handed him a coin with Caesar’s image on it and asked him a question about paying taxes. They were trying to trap him, and in those days, falling in that trap was a very dangerous one.
His opponents, being pious Jews, weren’t even supposed to have that coin in their possession, because it had a graven image on it – Caesar’s.
Jesus evaded that trap in the best way possible – he gave them an answer they couldn’t answer. And when someone can’t answer you, you have won the debate.
Jesus told him, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”
Now how is this for funny -- there is no indication he ever gave the coin back to them. They couldn’t ask for it. They weren’t supposed to have it on them.
Jesus’ saying has been perverted to support the government in ways the government should never be supported. People can rationalize anything, even though they don’t know it, won’t believe it, and instead are convinced they are being rational.
Strictly speaking, the only thing Jesus said to give to Caesar was the coins with his image on it. If you want to expand it a little bit, he said, “Give to Caesar his own property.”
That is as it should be. If you don’t give to people their property, that is stealing. The only thing that belonged to Caesar was his own property, and again strictly speaking, those coins, having his image on it, were his property.
That is the only thing that belonged to Caesar – his own property. Nothing else.
The word “commandment,” as in “Ten Commandments,” is incorrect. The correct translation is “Ten Words” or “Ten Utterances.” One of those Utterances is “Do not use God’s name in vain.” That translation is incorrect. The correct one is “Do not use God’s name in vain causes.”
When people start claiming that Caesar is owed more than his own property, then they are truly using God’s name in vain causes. “Caesar” is the State, and the State, like all states, is based on force (and for that matter, fraud).
Without force, there can be no government. When people claim Caesar is owed more than his own property, they are claiming the government has the right to use force to take what actually belongs to God.
What are examples of what does not belong to Caesar? People’s lives and property. What about the draft? Wars? Does Caesar have the right to enslave people to fight wars? Where, in anything Jesus said, did he support this concept?
One of the biggest disturbances that surrounded Jesus is that some of his followers thought he was the king who would violently, through war, throw off the Roman yoke. This is why when the Roman soldiers came to arrest him, he mocked them with the comment, “You have come to arrest me as a militant nationalist?”
So it’s clear Jesus did not support wars and violent revolutions.
Those who have perverted Jesus’ saying about what belongs to Caesar have used it to support the worst of things the government does – wars, slavery, taxation. Considering in the 20th Century alone, 177 million to 200 million people died in government wars, the difference between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God is not a minor issue.
To this day I am amazed that people worship the government as a God, even though it is an idol. Anything based on force and fraud (lies) is an idol. Yet so many people see it as a tit from which all good things unendingly flow.
The State is a wolf and many people are sheep. Since the government is composed of a small group of people, what we really have is that very small group using the law – force and fraud – to force the majority of people to give up what they do not want to give up – ultimately, their lives and property.
If all people followed the Ten Utterances, there would be no government. It is because people can’t even follow ten simple rules, that we have government. If people wouldn’t lie, murder and steal (and that includes the government), imagine how many problems would just disappear.