Christian Civil Disobedience

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Do we as Christians have to “obey” the authorities at all times and in all things? Some will be quick to point out Romans 13:

1Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

3For 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:

4For 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.

5Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

What shall we say then? Is The Bible (God’s word) wrong? NO. Every power enjoys its authority by the grace or tolerance of God. That is NOT the same as being a minister FOR God. Do we really think leaders like Hitler, Pol Pot, Chairman Mao, Joseph Stalin, Kim Jong- IL, Omar Al-Bashir and Saddam Hussein are or were really ministers of God for the good of their respective people? We need to look a little further and take scripture not only in context but with an understanding of scripture on this topic as a whole. The Bible is not contradictory and God is NOT the author of confusion. So, what are we to make of other scriptures like Acts 4:19 “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.” Or Acts 5:29 “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, we ought to obey God rather than men.” It is clear that where the rules of men conflict with God’s word we have a responsibility to stand against them. The admonitions that we follow the law are guidelines for good citizenry; and Christians absolutely SHOULD be the best citizens and obey the laws….. When doing so will conflict with God’s word we cannot.

So tell me who was right with God? The church authorities and followers who stood by and allowed the rise of the Third Reich and the enslavement and attempted genocide of a people? Or the people who REFUSED to obey the authorities and lied to preserve their lives? Watch or read “The Hiding Place” the Ten-Boom family story. Or watch “Schindler’s List”. They did NOT obey the authorities and had to lie to them routinely. So, do you really think they were rebelling against legitimate leadership and that they brought condemnation upon themselves? Over 2000 people owe their lives to the rebellions of these people. What are we to make of people like Martin Luther King Jr. Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks? Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation January 1st 1863. On March 2nd 1955 Claudette Colvin refused to give her seat up on a bus and was arrested, she is not as well known as Rosa Parks because she was an unwed pregnant teen and attorneys didn’t feel American’s would be sympathetic to her. On December 1st 1955 Rosa Parks failed to obey the directions of a white bus driver to give up her seat to a white man becoming the “First lady of American Civil Rights”. Both women were arrested for their “violation” of Jim Crow laws. Martin Luther King Jr. led the Montgomery Bus Boycott that resulted from incidents like these, was arrested numerous times and ultimately died for his non violent resistance. Who do you think represents a good Christian? The legislators who wrote or the people who wanted these laws? The ones who obeyed? Or the ones who realized these laws were unconstitutional, unchristian and unfair? Almost one hundred years after the “Emancipation Proclamation” black people were still being treated unfairly. Some things will never change if people don’t demand it.

Submission to “authority” is pushed by taking a few scriptures on their own and ignoring that they exist within the framework of a much larger book. We need to read the Bible and exercise a little common sense. ALL through the Bible there are incidents of open disobedience to unrighteous authority. Moses disobeyed Pharaoh Shadrach Meshach and Abednego disobeyed Nebuchadnezzar etc. A true definition of disobedience is failure to follow God’s law or to do what you know to be right!! James 4:17Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. If you know what is right and don’t do it, it is SIN! Logically, if a law is unconstitutional, unchristian or unfair and you know it it is SIN if you do nothing about it! Invasive and disrespectful TSA violations are currently authorized. Abortion is currently legal. Are we really to just stand idly by while our constitutional rights or the rights of the weakest among us, the unborn are routinely and flagrantly abused? IS that really being a good Christian? Standing for the truth and the rights of ourselves and others is NOT wrong. It is wrong that we are letting evil pass as good in our society. We have a responsibility as American’s and Christians to…………….

STAND against anything in opposition to God and his word.

There would be NO America were it not for disobedience to illegitimate authority. Ben Franklin coined the motto “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God” and Thomas Jefferson liked the saying so well he had it on his personal seal. Pastor Jonathan Mayhew’s famous sermon on submission and disobedience is often thought to be one of the great catalysts to the colonies’ push for liberty and independence. Our foundational documents while certainly not equal with the scriptures in authority, SHOULD be considered when we evaluate the authority or righteousness of any leader, laws or actions. In the Declaration Of Independence we can read….

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But <em>when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object</em> evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Some of what our founders were rebelling against has clear parallels to our position today. How many unconstitutional laws do we suffer under before we begin to see there is a “long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object”? Some among us will not be happy until the state has all the power. We are already seeing through the TSA and Homeland Security abuses that are now “legal” thanks to 9/11 and the Patriot Act that American’s are becoming comfortable with losing freedoms; because they erroneously believe they are gaining safety. Ben Franklin once said “”They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security”. Roe V Wade is often cited as one of the worst cases of American jurisprudence and yet it is responsible for the deaths of over 50 million unborn children. The typically Orwellian double-speak named “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” will not only NOT protect patients or create real savings. All of these things have something in common…..

They are UN constitutional. Our leadership does NOT care about rule of law or the will of the majority. By the terms of the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bible it is illegitimate leadership! We have NO responsibility to obey it and in fact have an obligation to stand against it!

Our founders were fleeing just this sort of abuse and while framing the constitution they were VERY aware of the potential for loss of freedom here is one example at the Virginia Ratifying Convention and James Madison is a signatory on the US Constitution and often is referred to as the “Father” of the constitution…

“There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” –James Madison, speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788

I leave you with some final thoughts. A Brother in Christ and a friend I correspond with brought my attention to Dietrich Bonhoeffer A German clergyman during the rise of Hitler’s Nazi party. He actively resisted the “authority” of this illegitimate and unchristian leadership. Here are a few quotes from him…

“One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons”

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”

After reading these quotes perhaps you can see a comparison to Scripture? One needs to make sure they are being obedient to GOD first not man. We must stand against wrong and always think if our action or inaction leaves this world a better place for our children. Do you think allowing ANY people in a free Republic to be mistreated by the state results in a better place for our children? Does allowing abortion make America better or worse for them? Cheapening life hurts us all.