I had a discussion this week with a friend and he mentioned that as a Christian, I should respect the office of the president of the United States of America even though I may not agree with the person holding the position. I understand the sentiment but I simply do not agree. I disagree with that for a few reasons but let us look at what the Bible says about government. I will show you three versions and you can decide for yourself. At no point should anyone think I am saying to blatantly break laws. I am simply trying to show why every fiber of my being cries out when someone says I should respect something that is not worthy of my respect.
Romans 13:1-7 (NIV)
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Many Christians think this means any government. Is that really what this says? It says “governing authorities”. What are the governing authorities for humanity? Did God establish man’s government or did God establish Nature’s Law?
2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Many Christians believe that this passage means that as long as we follow man’s laws to the tee we will not be rebelling. Really? So when man’s law violates God’s law, we should still follow it? I don’t think so. I hate to break it to you but by believing Jesus is the King of Kings, we break many laws of man on earth. So I must believe that once again this passage speaks of Nature’s Law.
3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.
I would like to note this first part. It says “rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those that do wrong.” If we follow man’s law and we know it is wrong at times, how could this passage hold true if it is indeed speaking of man’s authority? It simply can’t.
4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
This passage speaks of God’s servant. I can look around the world and name a hundred leaders that are definitely NOT God’s servants.
5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
This was written by the Apostle Paul. How many times was he in prison and he did eventually die at the hand of the Romans. Do you think he was speaking one thing and practicing another? I don’t think so. So with that , can we think he is speaking of the authority of man?
6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.
There is something lost in translation here. I have serious issues with the changes from KJV.
7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Again, something is lost in translation.
I am going to post the KJV below alongside the Living Bible and you all tell me if you see the differences.
|King James Bible
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.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 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:
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Obey the government, for God is the one who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power.
2 So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.
3 For the policeman does not frighten people who are doing right; but those doing evil will always fear him. So if you don’t want to be afraid, keep the laws and you will get along well.
4 The policeman is sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for he will have you punished. He is sent by God for that very purpose.
5 Obey the laws, then, for two reasons: first, to keep from being punished, and second, just because you know you should.
6 Pay your taxes too, for these same two reasons. For government workers need to be paid so that they can keep on doing God’s work, serving you.
7 Pay everyone whatever he ought to have: pay your taxes and import duties gladly, obey those over you, and give honor and respect to all those to whom it is due.
I borrowed the above comparison from HERE.
Is Paul actually speaking of civil government? The difference in these versions makes me think he is not at all. Back to my discussion with my friend. Should I as a Christian respect an office that repeatedly defiles God’s Natural Law…to the extent that those under it feel fearful and oppressed? Should I follow the laws of man blindly with no regard for God’s law? Let’s see what the good book says.
28Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
I don’t think it can get any clearer than that. I refuse to respect an office that has spit in the eye of God’s Law. I will obey all laws that are not against God’s and the only authority I recognize is that of my Lord. In doing that, I honor my Father and fear no leader but mine and that is a fear of humbleness and awe…not oppression and slavery.
What say you?
Peace, love and God’s will