From the “Journal of Happiness” by Fr Nicolae Steinhardt:
“Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”. This phrase is straightforward and totalitarian regimes, adding Rom 13, demand the faithful to show obedience and respect. Many Christians, who are confounding religion with stupidity, are jumping in to approve it: “thus says the text”!
They’re not reading carefully enough though. “Give back to Caesar” means to the state what belongs to the state, if it is a real one and acts correspondingly. When the state (Caesar) is preoccupied with its own affairs, with maintenance of roads, order, canalization, transportation, defense, administration and distribution of justice, it deserves our respect and everything that belongs to it: taxes, military service, civic-mindedness. While in case when the State ceases to be Caesar and becomes Mammon, when the king takes on the role of the medicine-man and civil power that of ideology, when it demands spiritual adherence, recognition of it’s spiritual supremacy, enslaves the conscience and brainwashes, when a state-defined happiness becomes a sole and mandatory model, the Savior’s commandment does not apply any longer, because one of the contract mandatory terms, that of identity of participants, is not respected (Caesar was substituted by Mammon). We should have no business at all with Mammon, we should have only damnation from the prayers of St Basil the Great for the Mammon.”