The Wall Street Journal’s annual Christmas editorial struck me differently this year, and I’m finally getting around to sharing how that’s the case.
Here’s most of it (bolds are mine):
When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.
Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.
But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression—for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?
There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?
Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s. …
My “new” (to me) perspective is that Christ’s famous “render unto Caesar” message is more than a command to have balanced spiritual and secular lives. It is also a command to NOT “render unto Caesar” — or to any other man-made governance — that to which Caesar is not entitled, be it financial resources, or power, or control over aspects of one’s everyday life.
It is no accident that our country’s Founders, the mid-19th century abolitionists and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s were all spiritually based in Christian values and ethics. In fact, the struggles of the first 20 centuries after Christ was on this earth were primarily about, and continue to be about, putting Caesar in his rightful place.
The prolife and Tea Party movements share their legacy, their values, and their goals — a proper alignment between Caesar and God — which respects all human life and provides citizens the inalienable, God-given rights and opportunities we were put on this earth to pursue.