I have grown up in the church, for the 18 years of my life, hearing, to the best of my knowledge, quoted from Romans 13 and 1 Peter that we are to submit to the government - period. No questions asked. I have heard this propounded on by men I respect, and whom I have I high opinion of their beliefs. After all, they say, just look at the text.
Now, let me say right here, there are good and respectable honest Christian men on both sides of this topic, and I don't want to slam anybody on the other side of the line. I merely want to state from scripture my opinion on our Biblical duty in regards to the federal government when it is unbiblical and out if its lines.
Let every soul be subject unto 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. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Romans 13:1 - 6
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
1Peter 2: 13 - 17
The people I know read these verses and say that the verse requires total and complete submission to our federal government.
That sounds great on the outside, but upon a closer look I think we find that this isn't as clear cut as it at first seems.
Let's mosey on over to Acts to get a different perspective on this.
Peter and John have been captured and jailed for preaching in the city, and they have been brought before the local authorities, and have told them that they are gonna preach the Gospel no matter what. The text below starts with the "authorities" response.
But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.
Hmmmm. Interesting. So, in this instance, it seems ok to disobey the government if they are telling you to not spread the Gospel. It is the opinion of many respectable men, and I agree, that this text shows that we are to disobey the Government if the Governments command violates a previous command of God.
Ok, that makes it a little better. God said preach the Gospel + Government says don't = We share the Gospel anyway. So we do what God says first, and then obey the Government everywhere else.
Great! Move over UN Rights of the Child, God is coming through.
So, that verse isn't to be understood as saying that any government anywhere should be obeyed in everything no questions asked, no arguments allowed.
Most people stop right there however and say that the only God-allowed spot to rebel to the Government is when they tell us to preach the Gospel.
But..... Is that the only command that God has given us that the government contradicts?
Like, what about the principle that men are to be the protectors of their home. Tyrannical governments really don't like armed citizens.
What about the principle that the family is where children should be taught, but the government would really prefer if you handed them over to them lock-stock-and-barrel, for them to teach.
Now, in all of those instances, the government hasn't really cracked down, and (here in AZ) we are still allowed to own firearms, carry them openly, homeschool our kids, and teach them what we believe.
According to some I know, we get these freedoms just so long as the government gives them to us, and when the government say they have to go, they go, and we can't complain, since "it is not a gospel issue".
Things are changing however.
Rumors are floating around that Obama is trying to ban all firearms period. Obama is passing laws restricting what we can and can't do with our own fruits and vegetables raised by our own hard work. ( You know, our taking dominion of the earth - sound familiar anyone?) Obama tried to pass laws saying that we can't *force* our kids to work on the farm anymore.
So, according to these gentlemen, we put our hands in the air, back up, let the tyrannical government do what they want with our kids, our land, our property (Eminent Domain is still used today) but hold tightly onto our Bible, because "that's all that matters," and "doing so shows them the Love of Christ".
I disagree with that. However, before we go anywhere with this, we need to go back to the biblical basics of government - just to make sure that we are all on the same page.
First, we need an intro of what the Government is, (or what it should be) and what it is not.
If you open the Bible at around Leviticus, (or any book of the Torah) it appears to me that you had a system that looked something like this.
God had laws telling you not to do certain stuff, or do certain stuff.
If you busted the laws, then there was a few options. If its was intentional, most of the time you were taken out and stoned. If it was unintentional, there were a variety of different ways for it to be handled depending on the situation, anything from restitution of property, to sacrifices, to (worst case scenario) run to a certain town before someone kills you (and yes, that was allowed sometimes).
AND. THAT'S. IT.
No laws that you had to register your donkey for public use. No laws that you had to get a permit to put up another tent on your property. No laws that you had to have the Priests permission to carry a sword or dagger around (in fact, in the case of daggers, it was rather assumed you would). Nothing. Period.
Some people would say that was then and this is now, and the list goes on of reasons they could give why our system of government nowadays is and should be different than it was then.
So, that's what it was then. Was that the perfect setup? Should we be like that?
We have to take a step back and go even further into the basics, which starts with (no surprise) the nature of man.
Man, as he was created, was created free. In the garden of Eden, God made man, told him what he needed to do, told him to do what he told them to do, and turned them loose to go obey Him.
Man was made to rule over himself, under God's rule. No governors, no police. Nothing. Since God said that it was "very good" we are going to assume that is the state man would be in if man had never sinned.
But he did. *sigh*
So they say, now we need a government to keep man in line since he is wicked to the core and can't do anything right.
Well, that's sorta right. Man is rotten to the core, and does need someone to keep him in line. The only problem is the only people to put over him is some more rotten sinners - so its sorta counter intuitive.
We DO however have someone ruling over us and giving us commands to obey - and he isn't dirty and rotten. God. He rules over us, and we obey Him.
So, it is obvious that man is always under God, (and would always be even if he hadn't sinned). But should he be under other people in the civil world?
If you follow governmental history in the Bible, up until the book of First Samuel, all the wicked nations had kings, and Israel had something totally different. It had a system of very few men dealing with the case laws brought to them, and applying how the issue was to be dealt with based upon God's law. They weren't making new laws to regulate which donkeys crossed the road first, they weren't regulating who could sell food in their tent. They were merely solving problems for people who couldn't solve their squabbles themselves.
Then you had the priests being the intercessor between God and man, offering sacrifices daily for atonement for sins.
So, maybe he is to be under other people. Other people who were recognized as the best Godly guys in the community to apply God's law for the common people in the situation of breaches of the law. They had certain numbers of judges for certain numbers of people.
So, the old fashioned western justice style isn't as far off as I once thought. A sheriff over a certain area of people to solve squabbles between people who are to childlike to do it themselves.
You notice, the judges are not creating new laws - just applying the ones God had already said.
So, after all of that, you get to 1 Samuel, where the people say phooey on that, we want a king like everyone else.
To top it all off, when Samuel is talking to God, God says the turning to another system is them turning away from God. So, putting yourself under a king who has ultimate and complete rule over you is turning away from God.
So, in summary of all that, this is what I conclude.
Man, although sinful, is made free, and to rule over himself, under God. He is free to do what he pleases and how he pleases with his property and life as long as he stays under the law and will of God. There is to be a very minimal group of people, elected by the majority of Godly men, to carry out God's laws in the area he prescribed.
That's all it appears to be.
That is my understanding of Biblical government.
I gave you all of that so you have a foundation to base the rest of what I am going to say to you on. This is really important in our day and age.
What do we do with the bad government we have then?
Do we "submit" even though we know we are being tyrannically oppressed? I mean, the verse did say "submit to every ordinance".
Well, as we saw in Acts, it seems there are some circumstances where man is allowed to disobey the government over him. Also, it must be noted, when that statement was made, it was being made to a people who had been captured by a foreign country, and was in slavery for a judgement. Not in the context of a government set up by the people for the people. Keep that in mind.
However, we saw that it was ok to disobey when God had given a command (eg. spread the Gospel) even though the government commanded against it.
Do we stop at "Gospel" issues?
Most I know, say that we can go no further, since our main goal in life is to spread the Gospel, and the rest doesn't matter, as long as we are doing that.
Now, I suppose we could argue over the definition of "Gospel", but I am going to take and use the common definition of the gospel, as the message of Christ's redeeming blood paying the debt for sin for lost sinners.
Um, well, defining it like that, not quite. Our goal in life is to glorify God, and sharing the Gospel is just one way to do it. Granted, it is very important, but not the be-all-to-end-all. If it were that way, everybody would be a street preacher or pastor - over a bunch of other pastors. No Christian could ever be a plumber or a electrician, but would be out on the street 24 hours a day, and would eventually die of sleep deprivation and starvation. See how that works out........
So, what about when the Government come for your kids? Do you hand them over? You were told to teach them the ways of the Lord, and you can't do that if they are in forced schooling behind locked doors with none of your say for 12 hours of the day. What about when the come for your guns? You were told to protect them, and fighting off a shotgun waving crook at 2:30 a.m. in your hallway with a butter-knife isn't exactly practical. You know that the crooks don't care that you can't have guns. That is why you are being assaulted.
So, what about these other circumstances where you have an order from God? Do we disobey then too?
1 Samuel 15:22
But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
So, that all being said, what about "submit to the authorities" as taught by Romans and Peter?
Well, due to my understanding of the rest of scripture, and the reading of that text, that means that we are to obey the Federal Government in their role of punishing evil and praising good. If they are outside God's jurisdiction for them, and their agreement made to the people as a peace officer, I do not believe you are obligated to obey. That theory has propounded on by many through the years, from John Locke to Samuel Rutherford and many others in-between.
Thinking that's a bit outside of scripture?
If you look hard enough, you might be surprised how many of the Godly men and prophets through the Bible disobeyed the government of their time when they came after them, told them to do things, and otherwise was stepping WAY out of bounds. David ran from Saul who was trying to kill him - the next God appointed heir to the throne. Elijah ran from Ahab and Jezebel who were trying to kill him - God's prophet preaching the commands of God to the nation. Nabal refused to give Ahab his vineyard, an inheritance from his father.
The list goes on, including the story of Paul in Acts. Mosey over to 2 Kings 13: 3-5. Israel, under judgement, was sent a "savior" to free them from the "oppressive" Syrians, (Yes, it said they were oppressive, and that was part of the reason God sent this certain savior - not Christ) and got them all back to their home land and to their normal way of life.
So, it's there. You just might not have seen it in that light before.
Yes folks, it's scary. Standing up for what you believe to be right in front of a system that might fry you to a crisp if you step out of bounds is really kinda freaky.
As for me, I ain't worried. I mean, just as scared to do it as you, but I know I've got more cards in this game than those poor government officials ever dreamed about.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? - Romans 8:31
If the federal government comes for my kids, my guns, or my property, look out.
Protests are already rising in your head as you read this.
"But you'll be killed!" "It wouldn't do an good!" "What can one man do against such a system??!!"
Well, maybe. I have a duty before God to accomplish, and if I die, it's because I was obeying what God told me to do.
What does it matter if it wouldn't do any good, if we're obeying God anyway? Saying we shouldn't do something, especially when it has to do with obeying God, when it won't work, I believe is just pragmatics.
What can one man do against such a system? Well, not much, but a vast army of people is made up of a bunch of single men. If you stand for what's right even when you stand alone, it's never a lost cause. God is always with you. It also encourages others to stand with you. Every vast and mighty army that ever rose up for a reason started with one man standing up when everybody else was sitting down, and saying that something should be done no matter the cost.
A favorite phrase of mine is a paraphrase from Stonewall Jackson.
"Duty is ours; consequences are God's".
It doesn't matter what happens, just that we obey. Obey God that is. Another favorite quote is from Sergeant York.
"The fear of man makes a coward. The fear of God makes a hero."
Of course, you can't point out a problem without posing an answer as well.
If everybody in this country merely did what they were supposed to, we wouldn't have hardly any of the problems we know nowadays.
So basically, do what God told you and allows you to do. Period. Share the Gospel, create families, and take a stand when the government comes in and tells you to stop doing what God told you and allows you to do. Everything from sharing the Gospel, to target shooting in the desert, to reading your boy stories before bed. God told you to do it, in either principle or verbatim, God allows you freedom in your life to do things. If God allows it, who's got the gumption to stand up and say you can't?
Yes folks, doing what God allows and commands is (partially) illegal in this day and age.
So just how much do you want to obey? How far are you willing to go? What scares you more? Disobeying God and answering for it for eternity, or standing up to mortal man for a breath of time?
No matter how life threatening it is, God's plan is always better, always free-er (is that a word?) and always works. I saw a quote the other day. It said "I would rather have dangerous freedom than peaceful slavery".
It takes faith to believe that God is gonna pull you through, even when the deck is stacked against you. Fortunately for you and me, God makes more cards. : )
So, the main jist of this whole post is this. I am not advocating armed uprising. I am not advocating we shoot up the ones in office and put people we like up there. I think that is unbiblical.
I am advocating we all do as we should as defined by God - NO MATTER WHAT. No matter who is against you or opposing you. Armed Resistance to the government is the last ditch resort, and only in defense of home and family. That needs to be made clear - VERY clear. In this day and age, people are far to willing to pick up an AK and mow down all who stand in their way of having their own way - which isn't biblical.
I am advocating that we all do as we are allowed and commanded by God, by faith in his word - alone.
So folks, that be it. My opinion. No more, no less. if you disagree on a biblical basis I would love to hear your thoughts.
I know this is radical for most of you folks, but do some thinking on it and pray and see where the Lord leads you. This is a major shift in view on government for most folks, but believe me, I didn't get here quickly either. It took months of reading and thinking and praying. My friends can testify to that and tell tales of how I have been harping on this for ages.
Right now, I just wanted to encourage you to do what is right, no matter if the whole world is against you. You may think what is right is different, but as long as God is on your side, "you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you."
- Philippians 4:13