God and Government: What’s a Christian to do?

We now have a new President, Vice-President, administration, and Congress. Many believe that the election was stolen by corruption and fraud and now have an illegitimate leader. But, the fact remains that the election is over. The results have been certified. And, the oaths administered. Executive orders are flying out of the oval office. In my humble opinion, our Country is on a path to ruin. God has turned His back on the United States of America. 

I have written about how I believe it is impossible to be a Christian and support the Democrat Platform. Our new President is a Democrat and claims to be a Christian; however, he has decided to openly endorse and promote sin in direct opposition to God’s Word in just a matter of days. He has appointed at least one openly homosexual and at least one openly transsexual to prominent positions in his administration. He has signed executive orders to allow taxpayer money to pay for abortions here in the USA and worldwide. He did these things on the same day he attended a church service with the new VP and leaders of Congress. Many other immoral and sinful actions are coming soon. I am reminded of what the prophet Isaiah said, Isaiah 5:20-21 (ESV): “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! [21] Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” With the evil now openly flowing through the highest halls of government, what is the Christian to do? 

The Apostle Paul talks about our responsibility to the government in Romans 13. He tells us that those who have been justified by faith are obligated to be subject to human government. Actually, the obligation applies to everyone, but the apostle here is concerned primarily with believers. After the flood in Genesis, God established human government when He decreed, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed” (Gen. 9:6). That decree gave authority to men to judge criminal matters and to punish offenders. 

I admit that the Bible doesn’t say what I necessarily want it to say on this matter. I am not happy with the current situation in which we find ourselves. However, who am I to argue with God? Or, for that matter, who are you to argue with God? As Christians, we are to grow more Christlike, which means to be submissive to The Word of God, period. It makes no difference whether we agree with it, like it, or not. The Word is the final authority. The fact that Christians are citizens of Heaven (Phil. 3:20) does not exempt them from responsibility to human government.

In every ordered society, there must be authority and submission to that authority. Otherwise, you have a state of anarchy, and you cannot survive indefinitely under anarchy. Any government is better than no government. So God has instituted human government, and no government exists apart from His Will. This does not mean that He approves of all that human rulers do. He certainly disapproves of corruption, homosexuality, murder, and tyranny. But the fact remains that God appoints the authorities that exist. 

Believers can live victoriously in a democracy, a constitutional monarchy, or even a totalitarian regime. No earthly government is any better than the men who comprise it. That is why none of our governments is perfect. The only ideal government is a beneficent monarchy with the Lord Jesus Christ as King. It is helpful to remember that Paul wrote this section on subjection to human government when the infamous Nero was Emperor. Those were dark days for Christians. Nero blamed them for a fire that destroyed half the city of Rome (and which he himself may have ordered). He caused some believers to be immersed in tar, then ignited as living torches to provide illumination for his orgies. Others were sewn up in animal skins, then thrown to ferocious dogs to be torn to pieces. 

And yet, it still holds that anyone who disobeys or rebels against the government is disobeying and rebelling against what God has ordained. Whoever resists lawful authority earns and deserves punishment.

There is an exception, of course. A Christian is not required to obey if the government orders him to sin or compromise his loyalty to Jesus Christ (Acts 5:29). No government has a right to command a person’s conscience. So there are times when a believer must, by obeying God, incur the wrath of man. In such cases, he must be prepared to pay the penalty without undue complaint. Under no circumstances should he rebel against the government or join in an attempt to overthrow it. We must find a way of maintaining our duty to God as well as being a good citizen. We have examples from David and Daniel. Regardless of what happens to us, as long as we are faithful to God, He will always be with us as He was in the Book of Daniel. Who can forget the fourth man in the furnace or who caused the lions to sleep?

Whether president, governor, mayor, or judge, the ruler is a minister of God in the sense that he is a servant and representative of the Lord. He may not know God personally, but he is still the Lord’s man officially. Thus David repeatedly referred to the wicked King Saul as the Lord’s anointed (1 Sam. 24:6, 10; 26:9, 11, 16, 23). Despite Saul’s repeated attempts on David’s life, the latter would not allow his men to harm the king. Why? Because Saul was the king, and as such, he was the Lord’s appointee.

As servants of God, rulers are expected to promote the good of the people: security, tranquility, and general welfare. If any man insists on breaking the law, he can expect to pay for it because the government has the authority to bring him to trial and punish him. In the expression he does not bear the sword in vain, we have a strong statement concerning the power which God vests in the government. The sword is not just an innocuous symbol of power; a scepter would have served that purpose. The sword seems to speak of the ultimate power of the ruler-that is, to inflict capital punishment. So it will not do to say that capital punishment was for the OT era only and not for the New. Here is a statement in the NT that implies that the government has the authority to take a capital offender’s life. People argue against this by quoting Exodus 20:13 in the KJV: “Thou shalt not kill.” But that commandment refers to murder, and capital punishment is not murder. The Hebrew word translated “kill” in the KJV means explicitly “murder” and is so translated in the NKJV: “You shall not murder.” Capital punishment was prescribed in the OT law as the required punishment for certain serious offenses. 

Again the apostle reminds us that the ruler is God’s minister, but this time he adds, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. In other words, in addition to being a minister of God to us for good, he also serves God by dispensing punishment to those who break the law. This means that we should be obedient subjects of the government for two reasons: the fear of punishment and the desire to maintain a good conscience. 

Christians must demonstrate a respectful fear of displeasing those who are charged with enforcing the laws. And they must show honor for the names and offices of all civil servants (even if they can’t always respect their personal lives). In this connection, Christians should never join in speaking in a derogatory way of the President. It is written, “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people” (Acts 23:5). 

I must admit that I am the chiefest of sinners when it comes to this issue. I have not always followed the Word when it comes to how I behave towards the government. I must repent of my sins and do better. 

Scott Harris

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