Pastor Steve Ellison
Romans 13 begins by telling me that God commands every person to be in subjection to the government. Next, it tells me two times that the government is a minister/servant/deacon of God. It tells me that I ought to obey the government because the government has the power to punish me. Verse 5 tells me that I should submit to the government not only out of fear of what it could to me but also for the sake of my conscience. Romans 13:5-9, Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. 8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. NASU This passage fills in the details about submission. It is one thing to salute the flag and to stand and sing the national anthem. It is another thing to willingly, cheerfully, pay taxes and tolls, seeing them as a chance to obey God. I don’t like it any more than you do, in fact my flesh screams out against it but, yes, the way I pay my taxes is a direct reflection of my relationship to God.
Tax, custom (tolls), fear, and honor seem to cover all the bases. I can’t find a loophole and believe me I would like to find one. I find very little that I like about the government I live under. It is obvious to me that many if not most of the current policies will most certainly drive my country to ruin. I find some of the current policies to be immoral and in direct contradiction to God’s law. I do believe that in those cases a Christian ought to obey God rather than men. I am in no way condemning those Christians currently seeking to find a way to not comply with ungodly practices being forced upon them by the current government. However, this is no loophole to get out of a responsibility; rather this is an opportunity to boldly proclaim the wisdom and goodness of God, while being prepared to accept the consequences for disobedience. That is the pattern laid out in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Check out Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Jeremiah, Peter, John, Paul, Silas, etc. The consequences for disobeying the ungodly government commands were always unfair and often completely inhuman. Sometimes God lessened the consequences; sometimes He did not. The Christian must trust in the sovereignty and goodness of God regardless.
But what about the taxes, customs, honors, and fears due to government that are not in direct contradiction to God’s law? That would be most of them. Many of them I am vehemently opposed to but God doesn’t give me a loophole for that. Thus, in order to be in right fellowship with God, I am required to render tax, custom, fear, and honor to governmental authorities. Verse 8 is a guard against me trying to render only part of the tax, custom, fear, and honor that is due. I am commanded to owe only that which I can never finish paying even in eternity. All my other debts must be paid in full. That prevents me from cheating on my taxes, customs, fear, honors due to the government. This is so easy to understand and so difficult to do cheerfully. .…….…..firstname.lastname@example.org