Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). This Bible quotation from our Gospel reading today is a popular one among politicians. This is because many people consider it as the origin of the idea of separation of Church and State. Surprisingly, many people use this term of separation of Church and State loosely when, in fact, they are actually referring to separation of religion and State. There is a big difference between the two. Many people confuse this to mean that religious leaders have no right to condemn unjust civil laws and practices, or the right to request the government to address injustice in the society. Many people who argue on this do not even bother to check and see what the Constitution of the United States actually says. Here is the actual quote from the Constitution:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.
So what does Jesus mean when he says to “give to God what belongs to God” in the remainder of the Gospel today? We know the coin belongs to Caesar because it bears the image of Caesar. Therefore, that which bears His image, namely, human life itself, including that of Caesar himself belongs to God. Christians must be good citizens; even more important, citizens and governing authorities alike must obey God, acknowledge his dominion over human life, and protect it. We have been stamped with God’s image since we are created in his own image and likeness – “God created man in his own image ...male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). In a real sense, we do not belong to ourselves or to any government authority. We belong to God who created us and redeemed us by the precious blood of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you and remain blessed.
Fr. JamesBACK TO LIST