“Let every person be in subjection to governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Roman 13:1
A pastor of a very large church recently chastised his congregation for its preoccupation with and involvement in the affairs of government. He said that politics is a Christian “brain cramp.”
Using the text of Romans 13:1 and I Peter 2: 13-17, he told the people in his flock that if they failed to submit to any governmental authority they were in rebellion against God.
The principles of respect for authority and the need for the establishment of an orderly government are repeated throughout scripture. Without government there is chaos. The tribunal of the pagan magistrate often was all that stood between the early Christians and an angry mob.
At the time those passages were written, the Jews were a rebellious people and the local governors lived in fear of insurrection. Paul (the author of Romans and the majority of the New Testament), Peter and even Jesus himself urged their followers to be good citizens, to obey the
law and pay taxes.
No man can completely dissociate himself with the society or nation in which he lives but
was this allegiance to civil authorities that Paul and Peter addressed to be absolute? Of course not. Why do you think Paul and Peter were thrown into prison so many times and eventually executed? When man’s law is in conflict with God’s moral law and His directive to make disciples, the Christian must obey God.
Some would have you believe that when you become a Christian you must give up your citizenship. I have yet to meet a Christian who is willing to give up the benefits of citizenship. How many Christians do you know who send back their Social Security checks, refuse to drive or public roads or visit public parks? How many Christians do you know who would refuse to call the police if their house was being robbed or refuse the fire department if their house was on fire?
Most of our founders were Christian. When they set up our system of government, they didn’t say, “We need all the non-Christians out there to come in and run the government because we can’t be involved!”
In addition to taking the above passages out of context, this pastor also is forgetting that, here in the United States of America, “we the people” are the government. We are, in effect, Caesar.
Psalm 125:3 says, “For the scepter of wicked shall not rest upon the land of the righteous, that the righteous may not put forth their hands to do wrong.”
The people you send to city hall, the state house, the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives and the president of the United States work for us and we are responsible for what these employees do.
Would that pastor tell a Christian business owner to look the other way if he or she had a manager who was stealing from customers or promoting immoral activity in the workplace?
We are to be “salt and light” in the world and in a republic such as ours, at the very least, that means being an intelligent, informed voter.
There is no such thing as a value free law or a value free piece of legislation. Every law that is passed represents someone’s set of values and if you aren’t electing lawmakers and a CEO who are promoting your values, shame on you, because somebody is.
Most pastors are overworked. It takes time to keep track of what our elected representatives are doing and important pieces of legislation. It’s much easier simply to make pronouncements against these activities. Fortunately, there are some good watchdog organizations at the state and national level that can help. Why don’t you offer to be part of a committee to keep your church informed? Don’t forget to assign someone to go to your city and county council meetings.
The late Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer said that if you will examine the laws of a country, you will know what that county’s predominate religion is. For example, the laws in India reflect Hinduism; the laws in Israel, Judaism; the laws in Saudi Arabia, Islam; etc.
What do our laws reflect? We have laws and government programs that promote abortion, sexual immorality and slothfulness and – in some places – even prostitution, euthanasia and the use of hallucinogenic drugs.
Are we a nation dominated by atheists or secular humanists? No. We are a nation made up predominately of Christians. Shame on us!