Should Christians Really Submit to an Evil Government?
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1-2)
One of the unfortunate consequences of a society going to hell in a handbasket is that the church can’t seem to find a universal response as events spin out of control with each succeeding catastrophe.
There has been an escalating departure from God and His ways over the past half century. Families have been undermined as if unnecessary relics of bygone days. Who needs a father?
Babies have been reduced to commodities. Don’t want one? Kill the child in the womb. People don’t treat you as nicely as you think you should be treated? Rob them, beat them, take their things, burn down their homes and businesses, or take the circuitous route and have the government effectively do it for you by taking what they’ve got to give to you, and then punish them for having it in the first place.
These ungodly trends escalated as government enshrined as “constitutional rights” not just baby murder but also perverse sexual indulgences. Activists and their media supporters excuse away abominations like the recent rash of murders of police officers as if the victims had it coming.
It’s a commentary on our times that so much is excused away and even encouraged by society and even by our elected leaders. Clearly, this is wrong. Clearly, nevertheless, there are growing numbers who find something good in all this evil.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20)
In view of God’s commandments to believers in Apostle Paul’s epistle to the saints in Rome, what are believers to do when the government, whose only legitimate authority comes from God, is complicit in doing evil rather than good?
Soon military physicians will be expected to deliver “medical” services including genital mutilation for soldiers who want to become women, even when the doctors’ Christian beliefs conflict with the orders.
The nation’s president twice has admitted he’s unable to know the motives of mass murderers, despite both of the deadly shooters announcing why they killed dozens in a Florida homosexual nightclub and another dozen police at a Dallas Black Lives Matter demonstration. He really doesn’t know why these killers mowed down these innocents, despite the shooters’ own boast of their evil intent? This is willful ignorance.
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (2 Peter 2:1-2)
What do believers say to those who govern us when they insist that we submit to such evil and turn away from God?
The thinking in the church – the body of Christ – runs the gamut. Some say we must be in the End Times, therefore we might as well meekly submit. After all, Jesus said His Kingdom is not of this world.
Others are more militant, often rallying under the banner of patriotism, conservatism or some another “ism” to whip up a counter-attack, too often assuming tactics of those who would repress them, consequently in effect becoming very much like the thing they resist.
There are many, perhaps a majority in the church, who are so conflicted, overwhelmed or indifferent that they find it easier to turn a blind eye, as if everything will go away if they ignore it.
But as we have seen in recent decades, indeed for millennia, turning a blind eye to evil only enables it. Is meekness in martyrdom a Christian’s inevitable fate?
As for those super-charged patriots waving the flag while invoking the Bible, how have they fared? Arguably, the religious right so active in the latter part of last century fell well short of transforming America into a shining city on a hill. Indeed, backlash from an increasingly secular culture may have amounted to a net loss for that movement, rather than making America more godly.
Neither submissive retreat nor militant offense have nudged the nation one iota closer to God. After factoring in the vast numbers of believers who act as if they can’t be bothered to engage the issue, what do we have? We have the deteriorated status we see all around us.
If America is a battle between good and evil, honestly, who do you think is winning?
Almost all believers, from those resigned to earthly defeat to those energized to fight the good fight, say they “believe” the Romans passage in today’s study.
“Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” (Romans 13:2-3)
Shall we meekly submit to rulers who foist upon us depravity and sin?
This next point probably will stir complaint among some brothers and sisters in Christ. God indeed has ordained all civic leaders with authority to govern. Just as He ordained men to be the head of their families and wives.
But just as God did not ordain husbands to beat, demean or otherwise disrespect their brides, He did not ordain leaders in civil government to commit evil acts. That’s why Paul’s exposition in these verses continues this way:
“Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.” (Romans 13:3-4)
God’s ordained civil authorities are charged with suppressing evil and punishing evil-doers. They are “God’s servant for your good.” When they inflict evil, they exceed their God-given authority. They sin. Just as a wife-beating husband does.
Apostles Peter and John went to jail rather than submit to the authorities that ordered them to disobey God. Daniel went to the lion’s den. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego went into the fiery furnace.
Shall we submit in such a way to civil authorities who demand we do what is wrong in God’s eyes?
Allow yours truly to suggest there is a distinction between those biblical characters who were ruled by kings and we, Christian Americans, who are supposed to rule ourselves.
In a government of self-rule, such as ours, we have alternatives to jail and death for resisting evil. We hold the keys. We are the governing authorities the apostle speaks of in his letter to the Romans.
When those who work for us – elected officials – stray, we are empowered, indeed obligated, to replace them so that government will proceed in a way that pleases, not rebels against God. Paul talked about God-ordained governing authorities, who he said are to deliver God’s wrath on wrongdoers, not on the faithful.
“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad…For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:3,4)
Submitting to evil is the last thing Christians should do in a nation where the people are the governing authorities – as opposed to a nation ruled by kings or emperors. We, the people, have the God-ordained right, and responsibility to change the government. To fail or refuse to do this is to accommodate sin, and to disobey God.
Therefore, meek submission to repression is entirely inappropriate. Feigned indifference too. But we must learn the lessons of the failure of the religious right.
As a church brother reminded yours truly this weekend, we cannot be a witness to God and His saving Gospel if we don’t resemble His Son.
This is where the rubber meets the road. To turn America around will require godly Christian Americans shining God’s light of truth.
I’m eager to hear readers’ suggestions.
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