Testing the Worthiness of Our Cause   Leave a comment

The question is not “Can Christians disobey the governments they find themselves under?” Clearly early Christian did and Jesus told them they would have to. The question is really “How do we say ‘no” in a godly way?”

Returning to our definition of Christian civil disobedience, we need a way of testing the validity of our disobedience. It’s human to want to rebel, as evidenced by Adam and Eve. It’s important for Christians to rebel only when authorized by God to do so. So how do we determine when we’re within God’s will in our desires?

Five Tests for Civil Disobedience

  • The law opposed is immoral, in conflict with a higher claim;
  • Every possible non-disobedient recourse has been exhausted, with the definition of “possible” and “exhausted” being tempered by the situation;
  • the protest is not clandestine;
  • there is a likelihood of success (drawing a distinction between purely personal action taken for conscience sake and the sort of social disobedience which seeks to change society and thus must have its potential bad effects balanced against the good likely to emerge);
  • there is willingness to accept the penalty.

Three Additional Tests for Christian Civil Disobedience

  • The witness must be representative of the church’s clear conviction;
  • the witness of the church must be consistent with her own behavior;
  • the church should speak only when she has something to say, rather than feeling obligated to make a statement.

If we follow these suggestions, there is much more likelihood of civil disobedience being truly holy obedience.

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