By Jesse Pingenot in Student
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself (Php 3:20-21).
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. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. 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. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed (Rom 13:1-7).
So he arose and went into the house. And the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, I anoint you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. And you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord (2 Kings 9:6-7).
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:1-4).
So a few weeks ago I said, “You had better spend some serious time in prayer, meditation, thought, and reading (scriptural and otherwise) to figure out your personal political theology.” So I thought I’d give you some things to think about.
Once again, I’m not going to tell you what to think. That’s not my purpose. The point of this is to give you things to work through.
One thing we have to understand is that the government of our country is founded in secular humanism and its principles, and these are principles that we, as Christians, do not necessarily share. This causes a lot of friction, which can manifest as stress and discontent.
People avidly claim, “You can’t legislate morality!” to object to laws and regulations that Christians advocate, based on our theology. And it’s true: making something illegal doesn’t mean that they will follow the moral guideline. That is, in fact, very much at the heart of most of Christ’s criticisms of the religious leaders of his day, who rigidly observed the laws but didn’t obey God in their heart.
But on the other hand, what is the foundation of law? Law had better be founded on some sort of morality: Why make something illegal if it isn’t wrong? Without morality, laws become completely arbitrary; ruthless, even.
You cannot legislate morality, but legality without morality is tyranny. So you need to answer this question: How should the laws of the country and the morality of Christ and His people interact?
Another thing to consider under this is a simple scenario: Someone is driving blindly down the street. You notice that this person is going to drive straight into a wall and die. You scream and shout, but he or she won’t stop driving at it. At what point do you intervene?
If we really believe that sinful actions will harm people—whether they acknowledge it or not—at what point do we intervene and use the law to try to hold at least some of them back from it?
Further, if something is legal but immoral, at what point do you say, “No, I won’t participate in that?” If the law compels you to participate, when are you going to participate and when are you going to conscientiously break that law?
An example of this would be the bakery in Oregon where the owners declined to make a cake for a gay wedding. They felt that baking that cake would mean them participating in the act, so they declined the business. In return, they were fined over $100,000 in court for discrimination.
What do you think? Is it right for Christians to refuse to participate in an event that goes against their religious conviction? If it wasn’t right, is the government right to fine them for such an act, or should the government have been involved?
Is it right for Christians to refuse service to people so they don’t participate in something they believe is wrong—whether you agree with their position or not? Should the government fine business owners for discriminatory acts, or should that be left to the customers to decide whether they wish to continue giving the business owners their business?
Another thing to consider is the government itself. The Bible says that all authorities are appointed by God, and that would include our government. But our government is founded on rebellion from another government, which was also an authority appointed by God. And the Bible also contains times when God appointed people to overthrow their authorities, like Jehu overthrowing his king Ahab in 2 Kings 9. Is the American government invalid, since it is founded in overthrowing God-appointed authority? Or is it also a God-appointed authority? If someone claimed to have been appointed by God to overthrow the U.S. government, would you follow this person? What would it take for you to either stand against or join with that person?
These are just some of the questions you have to answer. I can’t answer them for you. You have to do that for yourself.
Pray about these questions. Think about them. Meditate on them. Read some books on political philosophy and political theology.
Know what you believe. And be ready to give an answer for it.
All views expressed on this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, U.S.A., U.S. Missions, and The General Council of the Assemblies of God.