“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” (Romans 13:7, ESV)
For about six years, I taught in a small extension seminary in Savannah, GA. One of the courses was “Christian Ethics.” In the course textbook, the author made a case saying that the American Revolution against the British Empire was not justified. I guess that based upon taxes alone, it was not. Of course, I guess one could not justify the practice of British colonization either. Anyway, in regards to government, Paul writes that we are to give the governing authorities what they are due.
Paul’s words align with the teachings of Jesus in every way. Remember what Jesus said when questioned about paying taxes, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” (Luke 20:25, KJV 1900) As we are to give to God the things that are His, we are also to give to government authorities the things due to them. This is because all government authorities have been instituted by God and exist for Him.
Most figure that their obligation ends with taxes and revenues. Even though many of us do not like paying taxes, regardless of how heavy the tax burden may be, we must pay them in full. Yet, the exhortation that we have from Scripture goes beyond taxes and revenues. We are told to respect and honor those who govern us.
I know that in our politically charged and divided society, what I am going to say here will offend some. But it is wrong to disrespect and dishonor our duly elected officials. However, this is what I see happening today. I see this from government officials, the news media, and especially in social media posts. The rhetoric I see is often far from honoring and respecting those in government. Such rhetoric does not help or improve anything.
There is a marked difference between telling the truth by voicing one’s own opinion and tearing another down with slurs, innuendos and falsehoods. The issue is one of intent. If the intent is to make the governing official look bad for political gain, you have crossed the line. This type of thing does not help, but creates further descension and division. It, more often than not, leads to further bantering with the same type of rhetoric.
The reason this type of rhetoric is so popular is that it appeals to the fleshly lusts of the masses and may influence votes. It has become a powerful political weapon since man’s fallen nature has corrupted his ability to discern truth from error.
We should take the advice Paul gave in his letter to the Ephesians. “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29, NASB95) Let us not get caught up in the emotional bantering over opinions, but pray for the ability to edify people and discern the truth.