Christians are commanded by God through His scripture to be under authority. Our first allegiance is to His authority, but He also sets pastors and governments over us. Sometimes, however, those other people are wrong in their governance, using their authority for evil rather than for what God commands. When that happens, Christians are called to obey God rather than man and that can result in civil disobedience.
So where do we draw the line?
Christians should certainly stand with Peter and Andrew in insisting that our gospel preaching is inviolate. Today, there are Christians who violate the law of their countries just by believing what they believe, but more so when they talk about what they believe. Muslims who convert to Christianity face a death sentence in at least a half-dozen countries. In other countries, you can be a Christian so long as you keep it silent, but there are heavy penalties if you talk about it. Christians are under no spiritual obligation to obey the laws of those countries. Yes, they may be killed for their beliefs or activities. There is no shame to die in the service of the Savior.
There are some moral outrages that no men of conscience could accept. The order by Nazis to turn in Jews for transport to the death camps comes to mind. The ten Boom family were not the only Christians to resist that law with their very lives. Unknown to many Christians, however, is the fact that many pastors in Europe told their followers to stand down, to obey the authorities because, as commanded by Romans 13, Christians are to submit to the government authorities. I suspect God will have something to say to those pastors at either the White Throne Judgement (depart from Me, I never knew you) or the Bema Seat Judgment (when, I believe, Christians will be given just a brief glimpse of how God saw our sins before He forgave it) and they won’t like what God has to say.
How do I know that? Jesus said we were to follow the spirit of the law, not the letter of it. Romans 13 is a good excuse for ignoring tyranny and moral outrage as done by government agents. It doesn’t absolve Christians of our moral obligation to stand for what is right and against what is wrong.
Such horrible examples, however, do not really help us to know where the line is.
In 17th-century Japanese were required to show their disrespect for the faith by stepping on a tile bearing the image of Jesus (fumi-e) or face torture and death. A lot of Christians died for their refusal to dishonor God in this way. Today, in the modern West, speech codes with their supporting humiliations, fines and professional shunnings are the bludgeons of choice. Believers must not flinch from speaking the truth in love … no matter the cost.
What shall we say, then, of that gray area where we’re not murdered or muzzled but merely mugged?
I think we might need to examine our own walks before we contemplate that line.
Keep the court records open: Senate Bill 108 would seal files, harming public knowledge of official actions – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials.
I applaud the Alaska Senate for returning to the US Constitution and think the editor who wrote this should be charged with something he did not do and then acquitted, so he too can be denied employment and home rental and wonder why certain children in the neighborhood aren’t allowed to play with his kids.
Because Alaska’s public records are online, they are a go-to source for many in the community for a down-and-dirty background check. The problem is that most of the public are not all that smart. They can’t distinguish between “charged with a crime” and “convicted of a crime”.
I have a friend who was accused of domestic abuse by her mother-in-law. She went through a court proceeding and a judge ruled that she had not abused or neglected her mother-in-law. The old lady was delusional. That non-crime is still on her record, still available for viewing by the public, and it has affected her.
First, there is the embarrassment of having her name on a criminal court list, even though she did nothing wrong. But there’s also a curious federal law that forever brands her a batterer even though she didn’t in fact do the deed. Because she was ACCUSED of domestic battery, she can’t buy a gun through a gun shop. That’s not a huge problem in Alaska where used guns are sold back and forth all the time in the private market, but if she ever wants to buy a new gun, she’ll have to use a straw purchaser.
She did nothing wrong. She broke no laws. She was deemed by a court of law to be not guilty. She retains her right to own a firearm, but because of a poorly-written law, she can’t shop in a certain store for a certain item.
As I said, the editor should go through it and then see if he changes his mind.
His excuse is that the public has a right to know about the charges when someone decides to run for election. Why? If the charges were dropped or the person was found not, then the jury system worked and it is none of the public’s business. We have got to get away from the stupidity in this country that claims a charge is as good as a conviction. While we’re at it, let’s get over the idea that because someone has been convicted of a crime they are forever more an untouchable, unable to get employment they are otherwise qualified for and unable to rent housing. It gives us a very convenient way to make serfs who can work in the shadow economy, but it is an evil in a society that claims it is built around the equality of all individuals.
If you are not a Christian, you are welcome to read this, but understand that I am not talking to you. My remarks are addressed to Christians only.
God, through the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth, tells us that Christians have authority within the church. We are to judge ourselves and each other and leave the world to its own devices. The apostles set an example of humility in the world. They didn’t fight back. They preached the gospel and ministered without regard for their own safety and they took the consequences of that. In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul wished that the Corinthian believers would follow that example, though his tone suggests that he doubts they will.
He then told the Corinthian believers, in chapter 6, that the church is to judge itself. Christians must call each other to task and adjudicate legal disputes within the church, not outside of the church. Time and time again, Paul pointed to God as the authority in the church. In this, he echoed Jesus Who called for His disciples to pattern themselves after Himself.
Ultimately, God is the sole authority over the Christian. You stand before Him with no one around you. Sometimes, however, God places others in worldly authority over us and He does this either for our discipline or for our own good.
Read the Pastoral letters — Timothy 1 and 2 and Titus and you find that God has placed authorities in the church. We are supposed to submit to one another in the church and in our marriages and family because God speaks through other Christians. We are to listen to our pastors with respect and submit to their guidance.
This does not mean we get the option to deny our own responsibility. A pastor is a human who has been called of God to a certain task in the church, but he is still a human being and human beings may be mistaken in their behavior and attitudes. We sin when we follow the guidance of a sinful man (or woman) simply because they are in a position of authority within the church. If they are outside of the will of God, we must oppose them because we are under God’s authority first and foremost.
Similarly, Romans 13 indicates that human governments can be in authority over us, but again, we are responsible to God for our own behavior and attitudes. When government authorities act outside of God’s will, we must oppose them.
However, in both of these cases, we must be careful to obey God. Resistance of evil is never an excuse for sin.
That speed limit sign beside the side of the road may seem arbitrary government caprice … and it most probably is if it reads 55 MPH and has been there for decades.
However, maybe it isn’t. Since Congress lifted the 55 MPH national limit that the Carter Administration Department of Transportation, speed limits on most highways and interstates are set by state DOTs. Is the 85 MPH speed limit on a Texas highway “arbitrary”? According to the Texas DOT website it was determined by road engineers — people who have actually studied highway engineering as a science — who evaluated the average speed of drivers along with the road geometry, prevailing road conditions, the traffic density and other factors to determine the speed limit. Is that arbitrary or is it instructional?
I don’t live in Texas with its flat, wide open spaces. I live in Alaska. Our roads are curvy, mountainous, and frost-heaved. Our pavement is frozen much of the year and moving the rest. Drifting snow, ice fog and short daylight hours reduce our visibility. Wildlife considers highways to be great game trails. The highest posted speed limit in Alaska is 65 MPH.
Is that arbitrary or instructional?
On a hot summer’s day on the Richardson Highway between Fairbanks and North Pole, I could easily drive 75, but the majority of the days in Alaska are winter. At 55 or even 65, I’m pretty sure I could stop in time to avoid a moose collision but at 75 …?????…. People hit moose all the time in that corridor and statistics show that if they’d been going the speed limit, the wreck might have been avoided or at least not been so bad.
Alaska has a large military population. They arrive usually in October, from Georgia and California and they are given no instruction in winter driving. They and their spouses take to our roads and drive in what they insist is a safe manner. In fact, they complain that Alaskan drivers are “horrible”, slow and cautious and we maintain too great a following distance. They express their displeasure by high-speed tailgating until there is an opening in traffic when they roar around us, risking a head-on with opposing traffic. If you get a chance to talk to them, they will insist WE are making them act that way.
Of course, they sing a different tune when one of our infamous Alaskan frost heaves shrugs them off into a ditch and we offer to pull them out. The smart ones are much more contrite than they were when they blew our doors off a mile back. The dumb ones … I leave in the ditch to contemplate their folly.
If all government went away tomorrow, there would still be a practical speed “limit” set by road engineering and conditions like weather and traffic density. And idiots would still exceed the “good sense” limit because idiots always think they’re smarter than those around them.
It’s obvious to them that the driver slowing them down on the road is a lousy driver … until that driver has to pull them out of the ditch.
Peter preached in the streets of Jerusalem and thousands came to Christ. The authorities had hoped that murdering Jesus in a very public way would stop the gospel, but clearly they hadn’t cowed the believers. Now they were preaching in the temple.
The temple authorities told Peter and John to stop preaching in the temple in Acts 4. Peter and John answered in a quote of the Hebrew Three. “We must obey God rather than you, so we will not stop preaching.” They then violated the order by doing exactly as God commanded. They spent time in jail for it.
Christians rightfully celebrate the stand of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego in Daniel 3 and Peter and John’s defiance in Acts 4. Clearly they were obeying God and clearly God rewarded their civil disobedience with miracles.
What does that tell us?
That there is a place for civil disobedience in the Christian life, but we still can’t ignore Romans 13. It is part of the Bible too. The Christian life is not velvet and satin. To truly live as Christ commands us, we have to make some hard choices, choices that require thought and that might cause conflict both with the world around us and also be our churches and even our own guts.
Christians must stand up for the truth as believers in the Truth, Jesus Christ. On the other hand, we must avoid the temptation to become hypersensitive to every affront to our scruples. I hate some of the things my taxes are used to fund, but not paying my taxes is probably not the best choice of protest. It may well be a violation for the 1st amendment for the local police to force me to move my abortion protest across the street from the abortion “clinic”, but is it appropriate for me to provoke an arrest by ignoring the mandated buffer zone?
Where do we draw the line?
Do you know?
No ‘starter homes’ sold in past year | Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper.
Yeah, young people heavily in school debt aren’t buying homes at any price. We should be surprised by this? Let the economy grow and see where that takes us. Just a suggestion.
The main reason I’m posting this, however, is the comments. Please do read them, because they are hilarious! Why would builders build “unaffordable” houses? A house that a builder cannot sell is a business loss for him or her.
The lack of reason out there would be spew worthy if not for it being evidence of just how ill-informed and non-thinking some people are.