ARGUMENT: But society is behind the government which society creates.
RESPONSE: Certainly. All civil government springs from the people, I care not in what form it is. But the people, I care not how many there are, have no right to invade your relationship to God, nor mine. That rests between the individual and God, through faith in Jesus Christ; and as the Savior has made this distinction between that which pertains to Caesar and that which is God's, when Caesar exacts of men that which pertains to God, then Caesar is out of his place, and in so far as Caesar is obeyed there, God is denied. When Caesar - civil government - exacts of men that which is God's, he demands what does not belong to him; in so doing Caesar usurps the place and the prerogative of God, and every man who regards God or his own rights before God, will disregard all such interference on the part of Caesar.
This argument is confirmed by the apostle's commentary upon Christ's words. In Romans 13: 1-9, it is written: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resist the power, resist the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bear not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
It is easy to see that this scripture is but an exposition of Christ's words, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's." In the Savior's command to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, there is plainly a recognition of the rightfulness of civil government, and that civil government has claims upon us which we are in duty bound to recognize, and that there are things which duty requires us to render to the civil government. This scripture in Romans 13 simply states the same thing in other words: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."
Again the Savior's words were in answer to a question concerning tribute. They said to him, 'Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?' Romans 13:6 refers to the same thing, saying, "For, for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing." In answer to the question of the Pharisees about the tribute, Christ said, 'Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's." Romans 13:1, taking up the same thought, says, "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor." These references make positive that which we have stated, - that this portion of Scripture (Romans 13: 1-9) is a divine commentary upon the words of Christ in Matthew 22:17-21.
The passage refers first to civil government, the higher powers, - the powers that be. Next it speaks of rulers, as bearing the sword and attending upon matters of tribute. Then it commands to render tribute to whom tribute is due, and says, "Owe no man any thing; but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." Then he refers to the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth commandments, and says, "If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
There are other commandments of this same law to which Paul refers. There are the four commandments of the first table of the law, - the commandments which says, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me", Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." Then there is the other commandment in which are briefly comprehended all these, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and, with all thy strength'.
Paul knew full well these commandments. Why, then, did he say, "If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"? - Because he was writing concerning the principles set forth by the Savior, which relate to our duties to civil government. Our duties under civil government pertain solely to the government and to our fellowmen, because the powers of civil government pertain solely to men in their relations one to another, and to the government. But the Savior's words in the same connection entirely separated that which pertains to God from that which pertains to civil government. The things which pertain to God are not to be rendered to civil government - to the powers that be; therefore Paul, although knowing full well that there were other commandments, said, "If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;" that is, if there be any other commandment which comes into the relation between man and civil government, it is comprehended in this saying, that he shall love his neighbor as himself; thus showing conclusively that the powers that be, though ordained of God, are so ordained simply in things pertaining to the relation of man with his fellowmen, and in those things alone.
Further: as in this divine record of the duties that men owe to the powers that be, there is no reference whatever to the first table of the law, it therefore follows that the powers that be, although ordained of God, have nothing whatever to do with the relations which men bear toward God.
As the ten commandments contain the whole duty of man, and as in the enumeration here given of the duties that men owe to the powers that be, there is no mention of any of the things contained in the first table of the law, it follows that none of the duties enjoined in the first table of the law of God, do men owe to the powers that be. These are duties that men owe to God, and with these the powers that be can of right have nothing to do, because Christ has commanded to render unto God - not to Caesar, nor by Caesar - that which is God's. Therefore, as in his comment upon the principle which Christ established, Paul has left out of the account the first four commandments, so we deny, forever, the right of any civil government to legislate in anything that pertains to men's duty to God under the first four commandments.