Christianity and rebellion against the authorities

Lately, the Facebook-o-sphere has been replete with both right and left leaning political memes. You know, ‘It’s Obama’s fault.’ No, it’s Bush’s fault.’ ‘Ban guns! No, buy more guns!’ ad nausium. The posts seem to get stronger each month.

More recently, though, I’ve been reading more and more posts, blogs, and articles about rebellion.

Some politicians have hinted at it. Some Sheriff’s departments are refusing to enforce certain laws. Some states have sued the Federal government over the Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010. Others states are creating their own laws making it illegal to enforce certain federal laws.

To make matters worse, the Department of Homeland Security recently made some startling purchases. In the last few months they have invested in 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, 7,000 automatic rifles, along with 2,700 Navistar armored vehicles. None of these purchases were made for overseas operations, but for use here in the streets of America.

From the Navistar website

From the Navistar website

Conversely, ammunition companies are producing a billions rounds of ammo each week, and Americans are buying guns and ammo faster than they can be made. Some guns and ammo manufacturers are even refusing to sell the Federal government.

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One thing is certain, our country is terribly divided.

What is the Christian to do with all of this? Clearly, we are taught to have a certain respect for authority.

Please understand, I do not think a rebellion is in order. (I especially want the DHS or FBI agent reading this page to know that).

I’m just asking questions. When does a person of faith (or people of faith) rebel against an authority, be it a parent, a teacher, a denomination, or a government?

Consider Romans 13:

Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.  So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do good and you will have its approval. For government is God’s servant to you for good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience. And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s public servants, continually attending to these tasks. Romans 13:1-6 CSB

This passage is problematic:

Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. Romans 13:1 CSB

There are two statements here:

One, we must submit to the authorities.
Two, the authorities that exist were established by God.

With these two principles we can say this:

One, The U.S. is an authority.

Two, it was established by rebelling against authority (England); but it also means (according to Romans 13:1) that it was established by God.

So do we understand this to mean that He establishes national authorities based upon the transgressions of His own commands? It’s an apparent contradiction, and therein lays the problem.

Perhaps this is an individual mandate—a single person should submit; but a group, for reasons of liberty and justice, may revolt and establish a new authority.

What if our own government is built on the premise that the people have the right, should the government become too tyrannical, to rebel against its current leaders? If indeed such sentiments can be found in our governing documents, then seceding is not a rebellion at all, but the actualization of a right.

These are murky waters, indeed.

With all of the division and uncertainty ahead, here are some truths to consider:

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior 1 Timothy 2:1-3 CSB

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor. 1 Peter 2:17 CSB

Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7 CSB

Christian brothers and sisters, wherever your politics fall, we can do three things:

1. Pray for our leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-3)

2. Pray for our country (Jeremiah 29:7)

3. Though you may disagree with them, honor the positions of those who rule over us (1 Peter 2:17, Romans 13:1)

What say you?

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