Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Not Caesar's picture. Masons.
Since many Orthodox Christians believe directly that "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" validates paying certain taxes such as the income tax - when an individual knows that their taxation pays for things such as abortions & wars, does this conflict with Orthodoxy?You seem to specializing in vexing yourself.
I'm stuck in this vexing question a lot.
What do you think Caesar was using Christ's denarius for? Feeding the poor (outside of the bread and circus to keep himself on top of the empire)?
Whose picture is on the dollar bill? $5? $10? $20? $50? $100?....
Do you think Christ would have paid that denarius if he knew it was going to be used to kill babies?
Are you suggesting that the Incarnate God did not know something in particular?
The statement Christ made with the denarius regarding taxes is confirmed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 13.
Apostle Paul writes, " Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established." The Apostle is not trying to insinuate that all governments are perfect and rosy, rather that flaws and all (as overwhelming as they can be) God establishes all and further respects free-will.
Part of our Church life is to learn to understand that all of life is a gift of God, even those aspects we find less than fortunate.
"This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."
We should not as Christians feel guilty when we pay our taxes which contribute necessarily to war, systematic poverty, corruption, greed, ecological devastation, and all sorts of human suffering. The world was this way in Christ's time, and Christ has sent the Church into the world.
We must learn to adjust our lives to the Will of God, and to accept it. Just as it is natural that humans die, even in the Christian sense of "sleeping", still we have to learn with God how to properly deal with our grief. Well its the same thing with our gripe. The world is a mess, so what? God expects us to carry on and do His Will and His Works in cooperation through out the world.
Now this does get complicated in situations, for example like the US Civil Rights movement of the Doctor King era. Civil disobedience, freedom marches, sit-ins and demonstrations, all of these were non-violent and Christian in spirit and yet were also seeming to contradict authority of the law/government and even the will of many of the common people. I would say that these were appropriate, but only if we as Christians take these kinds of matters to our God in prayer and to our priests to help us truly stay balanced and harmonized. God has called many martyrs and witnesses to stand up against the System, however these were CALLED by God for such a purpose, we can not succeed if we call ourselves.
For example, both Peter and Paul both were miraculously released from prison. When Peter left the second gate by the hand of the Angel, he knew very well he was "breaking the Law" and obviously disobeying the authority of the government, and yet having been aided by an Angel in Divine Providence, surely this was the Will of God. But it is a specific instance, not the ideal or the norm. Paul's example is similar but more obvious to the point. When Paul was to be released he challenged the warden to make sure it was all legitimate, and not merely to sneak them out the back door. In both instances, it seems clear that the Apostles did not necessarily act entirely on their own volition, but were moved by God.
As a man thoroughly grounded in the ideals and movements of social justice and equality, I have often been conflicted sometimes by these Scriptures and the Church history sometimes in regards to connections with the governments. But we must remember the Lord lets His Son shine upon wicked and just alike, and lets the wheat and the chaff grow together alongside each other. It is not for us to judge God, but to let God do the Judging. We can still condemn the wrongs of the world, but we must do such in the Grace of God. I have learned from my walk in Orthodox to trust God in all things, and it can be hard. Really, this is an elaborated version of "why do bad things happen to good people?"
There answer is the same. Seek prayer and of the course the age-old Orthodox adage, "Ask your priest."
My priest once said, if it truly violates your conscience to pay your taxes, then don't pay them. But you also must be willing to face the consequences, such as going to prison. (And also weigh it for greater evils; for instance, if you have a family to feed, it would be a greater sin to abandon them for the sake of a personal outlook on an issue you really have no control over.)
As you can see in God's Grace our fathers often have the best answers
I would say civil and human rights movements, so long as they are grounded within the Church (such as those of the recent Roman Catholic social justice movements) they fit in. Catholics speak out against abortion, but they still pay their taxes.