I’m sorry, sort of, for deciding I have to say this regarding a sermon I heard today on I Pet 2:13-17…
Realizing that God is “the same yesterday, today, and always”, I think we have to recognize that it is sometimes difficult to apply scriptural concepts in the context of 21st Century America. In Peter’s time, the civilized world was ruled by one man, the Roman Emperor, whose rulings were enforced by a network of sub-rulers throughout the Empire. It was easy for Peter, under Divine inspiration, to say, “honor the emperor” and all those under him who are set over us. To follow that precept today, we have to wade through a morass of ambiguous, and mostly conflicting, levels of authority.
The implication of the message I just watched on TV is, if I understood it correctly, that we should be in submission to all levels of our American government, even if the Constitution is being blatantly undermined by those leaders.
So, who is this emperor we are to honor? The President? Congress? The Federal Courts? The Washington bureaucracy? How about State government? Or, going the other way, the Secretary General of the United Nations, or the Security Council?
My personal opinion, based on many, many years of reflection, is that what God Himself has ordained for America is that we are a government “of the People, by the People and for the People”, with none other than the US Constitution at our top. The Constitution is our one and only emperor in America! Below that we have—deliberately—established competing layers of government that we, the voting citizens of Kansas first, and the US second (except where the Constitution dictates otherwise) must hold accountable. If this means sitting at my computer and posting memes and dissenting comments on Facebook, then I feel that I am within my spiritual authority to do so. In America, under the auspices of the First Amendment, we who are the informed are encouraged to voice our opinions yea or nay so that those who are less informed can vote effectively.
So, if “the government” tells me I can’t speak my mind on a political issue, or I can’t arm myself for any reason whatsoever, I must not submit, irrespective of the courts, because even they cannot violate the essential rights granted by the US Constitution! In a sermon several years ago, one of my pastors, evidently directing his comments to me and perhaps a few others, said that we were “disgusting” and out of God’s Will. I don’t accept that characterization!
2 thoughts on “Honoring Caesar”
I always struggled with this passage. Thanks for providing clarity and context. Looking forward to coming back to find out what else is here.
How about those living in a country ruled by a ruthless dictator? Is the passage saying they should still be in submission to their “Caesar”?