Question for Christians: Does God Want You to Obey the State?

Christian pastors typically tell their churches that it is important for them to obey the government because of the teachings in Romans 13. Some churches are led by absolute warmongers, but many others have leaders who are simply trying to stand up for law and order, perhaps naively in some cases.

It is important for Christians and all decent people to be respectful to others. This good cheer should even extend to people in authority- but only because they are people, not because of their power. The issue has nothing to do with one’s position; just be a decent person to everybody.

Christians typically agree that it is wrong to break criminal and contract law. But then there are “laws” that go way beyond criminal and contract laws. In these cases, where the legitimacy of the laws are open to debate, Christians should obey the state’s laws only as a practical matter. For example, the income tax protesters might have some rather convincing intellectual points, but who wants to spend their life in jail? Of course, there can sometimes be cause for resistance against unjust laws. This is up to the conscience of each individual. It is up to each person to navigate his way through this world of ideas, careers, relationships, money and horses. Just don’t hurt other people; serve other people. That will make you rich and happy. The liberal soul is made fat. By watering others we water ourselves (Proverbs 11:25).

Now it is true that the State has been the greatest enemy of Christians throughout history. The persecuted Christians in the Roman Empire were never asked to worship Jupiter. The axe-men worked ’round the clock chopping off Christian heads because they would not worship the State. The whole of the religious life in the pagan world was administered by the State. The Bible rejects this program in its entirety. The great Christian battle has been against those who would make man into God, and this has been done most successfully by giving people a new God in the State. This doctrine of “Statism” leads to totalitarianism because it is based on the belief that the State is the ultimate authority on earth. Statism is the great rival religion competing against Christianity in the West.

Christians are supposed to look to God as the ultimate authority in the world, not the State, which is simply a man-made replacement for God and His laws. The Bible portrays God as autonomous; the State portrays man as autonomous. Acts 5:29 commands Christians to obey God rather than man. Too many Christians today have found it easier to subvert the authority of God than to subvert the authority of powerful men. All Christians should oppose the logic of total State power as lethal to Christian values and the freedom required to live them out.

As a Christian, it is a matter of following God’s commandment to love other people. Whilst some people worship the State as a kind of earthly salvation for the problem-of-the-month, the Bible teaches people to look to God for values, peace and hope.

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