I have repeatedly and frequently been castigated and vilified by some fellow Christians for speaking against the government and government officials when I believe they are violating ‘moral decency’, ‘ethical principles’, ‘biblical guidelines’, and ‘the constitution’. I believe that I am on solid ground scripturally, morally, ethically, constitutionally, and personally in what I do but others disagree and the most often basis is to cite Romans 13 as a direct command against what I do. I want to look at that and ask a few questions in my consideration of ‘resisting governmental tyranny as a Christian.’
To be completely fair and honest I must cite the aforementioned biblical passage.
Romans 13:1-4 – “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth 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 beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
If we can come to an agreeable definition of ‘rebellion’ we can proceed with a civil discussion. Hopefully you will accept the following definition: “Rebellion is the disobedience to a lawful order and a lawful authority.” If a police car turns on its red light I must stop. That would be a lawful order by a lawful authority. Likewise can we agree that “Rebellion IS NOT disobedience to an unlawful order or unlawful authority”?
Not to make this totally a sermon, if you consider Acts 5 when Peter and the apostles were called on the carpet before the ‘governing authority’ and told to ‘cease preaching Jesus’ they responded, “NO, we ought to obey God rather than man.” Were they wrong? Likewise, when the Founding Fathers and Colonist including many in the ministry stood against the Tyranny of the British Crown because, in their view, the Crown had violated their God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, were they wrong?
The Declaration of Independence states:
“Any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute New Government.”
Clearly they believed that if the government violates man’s inalienable right it is not only okay to protest, criticize, but even abolish that government. The list of grievances against the Crown was lengthy and many preachers stood in their pulpits and encouraged the colonist to ‘resist’ and considered resistance ‘obedience’ to God and God’s Word! Romans 13 cannot be used as an ‘excuse for despotism’ and the violation of basic human rights. In fact, I would suggest that the Bible throughout directs us to ‘resist’ such a government and to encourage people to ‘resist.’
If, as many have challenged, Christians cannot resist government then what shall we do with America for clearly the colonist did just that. The British Crown was the official government and had official rule over them and they spoke out, criticized, and came together in open rebellion in order to secure independence and freedom. If the contention that we are forbidden to do so then the United States of America was formed in direct violation of God’s Word and is a cursed nation or should be. I do not believe that I believe the contrary that America has been a blessed nation and God’s hand was seen in the liberation of this nation.
How about Nazi Germany? It was the official elected government of Germany and Hitler was the official elected leader of that nation. Yet, preachers such as Karl Barth, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached against the Nazi regime and Hitler. Were they wrong? Should Nazi Germany still be the controlling government of that nation today even in the face of the horrific atrocities in the holocaust and beyond! I think not and do not believe that those who castigate me and other believers for our political involvement believe that either.
Martin Luther King, Jr. resisted the government and the law of the land in his pursuit of ‘Civil Rights’ was he wrong? If Romans 13 forbids us for speaking against government then what do we do with the criticism and outcry against those nations with horrible human rights violations and our involvement in any war in history? We were coming against evil but if that evil is God’s minister and we are forbidden to stand against it then we were opposing God and are in the wrong. I do not believe we are muzzled in those nor do I believe you do either. Yet, when this nation, our leaders, and government violates the human rights, tramples on our Constitution, wages war against the Christian faith in its mandates, edicts, and actions are we to sit silent? How can I? How can I watch my fellow citizens be tyrannized regardless of what political party is doing the tyrannizing? How can I, as a follower of Christ not allow ‘righteous indignation’ to rise up in my heart and cry out against WICKEDNESS and EVIL?
Now, I understand that we may differ on what we believe to be wicked and evil and that is fine but to tell us that we are forbidden for speaking out against what we believe to be direct violations of our American Constitution and God’s Word while violating our God-given rights and freedoms I believe is wrong. I pray for those that are in power. I pray for their souls. I pray for their enlightenment. I pray that God will guide their actions and footsteps into the paths that He has chosen. I pray that they come to Christ and allow morality to govern their lives. I pray for them and pray for this nation but I cannot sit silent when I see evil running rampant for if I do then I believe that the words of Ezekiel apply to me and God will hold me accountable for the blood of the innocent that I failed to warn.
If you believe I am totally wrong then pray for my enlightenment. If this allows you to understand why I am who I am and why I do what I do then God bless you and pray for me. I want nothing but the best for this nation and our people and for the world for that matter. I wish no ill upon anyone and hate no one but I must resist evil.
God bless you and God bless America.