The concept of civil disobedience is not new. Neither is the question of how far a government can go before the Christian is permitted to disobey. This concept of civil disobedience is/ought to be an escalation from the peaceful petition that ought to be the Christian’s first response to objectionable laws. Was Rosa Parks right in her act of civil disobedience? How do we answer such questions?
We must be informed by the Word of God – not our personal preferences and presuppositions.
World Magazine recently published an article focused on this question, you can read it here. Here’s a small excerpt:
Does submitting to civil authorities mean obeying laws that are immoral? We are commanded by God to share the gospel. What if a law barred us from doing so, even privately? We see that obeying government authorities isn’t absolute. It should be clear to Christians that unless there is legal recourse against obeying a law that compels us to sin, we are justified in disobeying it. Is it a sin to offer employees “mini-abortion drugs”?
It is clear from Scripture that Christians are able (obligated, I contend) to disobey the governing authorities if proclamation of the Gospel is outlawed – see Acts chapter 4. Is that the right standard to compare other issues to, as if they become justifiable since Gospel proclamation is?
This question of submitting to political authority has been addressed here at Def Con in the past – see this post as brother Conrad Mbewe examines part of 1 Peter.
The question of disobedience to the governing authorities must be anchored in Scripture – as with anything of import. If God has given us instructions, we who claim to be His must submit to what He was revealed to us! Do you have a pet issue (perhaps home schooling) that would cause you to reflexively rebel against the governing authorities without seeking wisdom from God in humility? We must be on guard against these issues that are close to us – for it in these that we are most vulnerable to slip into disobedience to God, thinking we are merely exercising our rights – forgetting that we are aliens in this present age, with our citizenship and home in a city whose builder is God.
Since I mentioned home schooling, let me briefly comment on that. In the US of A, it is not now and never has been against the law to home school your own children. Read that carefully. It is not now and never has been against the law to home school your own children. It has been and still is in many places in this country against the law to home school your children in lieu of sending them off the approved institution, but never illegal to home school in addition to the approved educational process. The Bible clearly holds parents responsible for training (educating) their children in the things of God. Rightly done, this covers all academic areas. But the Bible also records for us humble servants of YHWH who submit to pagan education and work diligently to prosper their pagan rulers (Joseph and Daniel come to mind). We must seek wisdom from God’s Word before we decide to go against the governing authorities – for there is no governing authority except those that have been established by God.
So – is it right and honorable to refuse to provide medical insurance that covers abortion? Certainly! The law is set up to allow people to pay for non-compliance. It is a very high price tag for businesses that might cause them to completely change their business model (contractors or part time employees) or liquidation. But think on this: the Bible does not reveal God’s will for man-made institutions. He has created government, family, and the church. Those institutions have responsibility before God as does each individual. A Christian who owns a company has a responsibility before God and he has the same obligation to seek wisdom from God’s Word on this as with personal issues. (Not being addressed in this article are those hell-bound folk who will also answer to God and have no grace to cover them on Judgment Day.)
The Christian that wants to participate in civil disobedience ought to step back and think. Rebellion is as witchcraft. Failure to rightly submit to the governing authorities is rebellion, is as witchcraft. Is that something we want to play games with? 1 Peter 2 gives a “Reader’s Digest” version of God’s commandment:
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Let’s wrap up with the obvious text, Romans 13, which includes this nugget: “whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Read the whole chapter, with a humble attitude. I know it’s easy to despise a government that does not rule the way I want it to. I like my elected officials to have an affection for and submission to the Constitution (at the national level) just like I like my church elders to have an affection for and submission to the Scriptures. But civil governments are mostly occupied by folks not reconciled to God, while church leaders ought to be – and therefore, subject to stricter standards. Most of the things that cause me to consider civil disobedience do not meet the biblical test – they reflect my fleshly desires or my innate sense of self-righteousness. How do you see yourself?
Okay. Your assignment. Voddie Baucham preaching on Romans 13 in two sermons. Listen to part one and part two before commenting. It wouldn’t hurt to listen to Conrad Mbewe’s message from 1 Peter (at the link early in this article). Then let’s discuss like mature, humble blood-bought children of the Creator God and Ruler of the universe.
Some issues are black or white and therefore are no brainers but other issues seem more difficult and personal. If vaccines became mandatory would i refuse, yes as they contain human diploid cells from abortion as well as other nasty ingredients. Would i refuse a verichip implant? yes as even if the chances of it being the mark of the beast were only ten thousand to one, that’s a chance i am not willing to make.
We can observe that the line between Government and private corporations has all but gone and the politics of communitarianism which combines communism with fascism with the control of big business pulling the strings. We can see this in clearly not just with the Corporate led ObamaCare system and the problems this is causing Christian led smaller companies and individuals on an increasing level but throughout all Government I suppose the observation that our Governmnents do collude with ungodly big business may be of no relevance and that they are still our Government and the rules of compliance or non compliance based on scripture still apply. However i do think it’s going muddy the waters even more for the believer in the coming years as big business is usually even more atheist or anti christian than the Government..
Thanks for stopping by Andrew. Did you listen to any of the three sermons connected to this post?
I agree that some issues are more easy to discern that others and not all would rightly choose the same response. May each of us seek wisdom from God – as He has revealed and preserved it in His Scriptures.
Thank’s for your welcome. I first heard this VB sermon a while ago when it posted somewhere else. One thing to consider is that coercion or encouragement to obey when we should not will or is already coming from many Church pulpits.
If homeschooling were outlawed in my state we would most likely move to a different state..
What do you mean when you say “If homeschooling were outlawed”? Do you mean if it were outlawed in lieu of government mandated education, or do you mean if it were outlawed all together?
Manfred, we may have spoken about this before, but not positive. I have slept a few times since this subject last popped up! LOL
I have listened to Voddie’s messages and appreciate what he has to say on this subject. However, this is an area that I have to disagree on. First, the use of Daniel and Joseph fall under a different era, one in which they were bought slaves or captives in a foreign land due to a war in their own country. I am not convinced, at this time, that their examples are designed or given to us in the Scriptures in order to somehow force an argument over areas such as homeschooling.
To continue with this example, there are many true believers around the world in persecuted countries who are continually on the move so they can continue to teach their children instead of placing them in a God-hating, secular, debauched school system. They understand what happens when you feed your children to the wolves. The government is given NO mandate to care or raise my children in any aspect of their lives. Nor, do I believe are true believers given the leeway to turn over that responsibility to the state.
If homeschooling were outlawed completely, I also would choose to move to a different area. To go further, if it was outlawed in lieu of government-mandated education, I believe my wife and I would also make the decision to move out of the area for their protection. In no way do I see this as disobeying the Scriptures, nor do I see this as a violation of the testimony of those who have gone before us.
Brother, I can understand where some areas are clearly a position that is not governed one way or the other, therefore, in those circumstances, we must choose to obey the government. For me as a parent to protect my children is not rebellion, no matter what it takes to afford them that protection.
There was a time that I did not feel this strongly, nor are my beliefs intended to find fault with those who would choose a different path. In the end, we will each give account for what we do before the Lord. With a clear conscience, as I understand my role as a believer and as a parent, I would willfully and deliberately disobey the government in this particular area. I just pray it does not come down to that.
TJM – If my kids were small and I knew what I know, I would likely consider moving to another place if the government required my children be taught by “Caesar”. Daniel and Joesph being captives are examples – not mandatory templates. My main object with this post is merely to provoke Christians to think biblically about such issues rather than react reflexively. I do not expect we all will agree on every point. That brings up the importance of this topic: http://defendingcontending.com/2012/12/24/unity-in-truth/
The article in World Magazine is based around the Hobby Lobby case wherein the company is refusing to comply with the HHS Mandate to provide certain abortion-causing drugs. I fully support their right to disobey this immoral law, and I fully support their right, as a private company, to provide whatever benefits they see appropriate to their employees. Same with Chik-Fil-A or Drury Inns, etc.
Bottom line for me, and it’s encapsulated in the portion of the article posted….”It should be clear to Christians that unless there is legal recourse against obeying a law that compels us to sin, we are justified in disobeying it.” If it violates my conscience, or worse yet, God’s holy Word, we are commanded to disobey it – whatever the cost.
P.S. Manfred, my family and I have decided not to attend Believers Fellowship here in San Antonio (too big of a home-schooling-only faction…just kidding), and have instead been attending Grace Bible Chapel…. http://www.gbcsa.org
Todd – most excellent to hear from ya! Glad you and yours have found a church – looks like good one.
Bottom line – The Bible clearly teaches that Christians are to disobey the ruling authorities when they command us to do what the Bible calls sin or forbid us to do what the Bible commands.
This is a great topic as it highlights our personal priorities to the subject matter from the responces so far, be it vaccinations, chip implants (from me at least to) the the home schooling issue of others and shows how we may all personally prioritise certain issues above others.
Sorry to give you such a drive by answer I was on my way to the dentist.. TJM summed up my convictions. I am speaking if I were legally forced to place my young boys in a government school for 40 hours a week to be indoctrinated as opposed to homeschooling them. If they were older, and rooted in the faith I would consider it. If for some reason we REALLY had to send them like it was the global law or risk having them removed from our home I trust the Lord would protect them, but again I would move before I sent them as it is now. This is my personal conviction only, and I guess doesn’t fall under being disobedient to the government since I am only talking about moving out of said governments jurisdiction rather than disobeying them.
Happily I live in a state that allows homeschooling in place of public schools and can maintain my convictions with relative ease (as is the case for most of us in the west).
In Christ -Jim
Jim – No offense taken, my brother. Thanks for coming back and ‘splainin’ your self 🙂 I am pretty much in agreement with you on this topic. Praise the Lord!
We had a really exhausting conversation about this last year under the topic of submission to government. Maybe we should link that post here so it can be accessed with all the comments for our readers.
Here’s an encouraging development on the Hobby Lobby story: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/01/11/hobby-lobby-says-it-has-found-way-to-delay-rule-that-mandated-it-provide/
The scripture your using says we are to submit to the rulers AS IF WE WERE SUBMITTING TO GOD….this is the point. So as long as a ruler is against evil and praising those who do good…yes follow them..as if it was the Lord comanding you. But if the ruler wants to vaccinate me and makes it a law then I will not obey it but will flee or fight. If they outlaw all firearms are you going to hand yours in? Right now home land security has the “clergy response teams” which is made up of thousands of pastors who are suppose to tell Christians in an emergency to follow what ever the government says…like going to a FEMA camp or handing in your guns. Google the term. This isn’t wing nut talk either.
frank – we are to submit to and obey the ruling authorities unless they forbid us to what God has commanded or require us to what God has forbidden. How do you fit the issues you’ve described into these two categories? How is what you describe NOT like what read about in Judges, where each man did what seemed right in his own eyes?