Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Superseding Authority: A Godly Response to Authority III

Now after my previous blog entry on authority, I know exactly what you're thinking: What about ungodly leaders who order us to do ungodly things? Are we supposed to obey them? Should German Christians during World War II have obeyed Hitler and turned in Jews? Should Christians today who are citizens of countries in which Chrisitanity is illegal be obedient to laws saying they cannot pray, worship together, or witness? What about the numerous instances in the Bible which show Godly men and women disobeying the ungodly orders of an ungodly leader?

Well, I'm so glad you asked. :0)

There is one instance in which we can, nay, should disobey human authority, and that is when a command or law issued by a human authority directly conflicts with a command or law given by God. The instances above are some good contemporary examples. There are also several examples of this in the Bible:

"But," you may say, "we already have some laws that conflict with God's laws. What about abortion? What about states in which homosexual marriage is legal? What if I live in Nevada or Rhode Island where some forms of prostitution are legal? Doesn't the fact that those laws conflict with God's laws give me the right to disobey the authority which enforces them?"

There is a difference between these laws and the Biblical instances I've cited as well as the contemporary instances given in the opening paragraph. In the case of the latter, a law was laid down or a command given that required all people, or all of God's people, to break God's law or to stop doing something God had commanded.

The laws we have in the United States today legalizing abortion, homosexuality, prostitution and other sins are laws which allow, but do not require, people to do something ungodly. In other words, no one in the U.S. is forced to have an abortion or become a homosexual or a prostitute.

So, how do we respect the authority of legislators, judges, Presidents and other leaders who make laws allowing ungodly things? Do we bomb abortion clinics because they violate God's law? Do we just sit back and do nothing because we are to obey those in authority? Of course, neither of these extremes is a Godly way to act.

In America, we are blessed to have a form of government which allows us to legally try to change laws and leaders we believe are ungodly. At the very least, those of us who are old enough should be exercising our right to vote. And as I've said previously, we should be voting for the candidate whose platform matches most closely with Biblical principles.

Sometimes this will mean we will be voting for the candidate whose economic policies are less beneficial to us personally. I believe that's a sacrifice we as Christians should be willing to make. The Bible says that we cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24), that we should deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24), that we should put the welfare of others ahead of our own interests (Philippians 2:3-4), and that we should help out the weaker members of our community (Isaiah 1:17, 23, Luke 10:30-37).

Other ways we can legally work for change include writing and calling our legislators and other leaders and asking them to vote in a Biblical direction, lobbying, working for the campaign of a candidate whose platform is Biblical, protesting (in an orderly and Godly manner), running for office ourselves, and let's not forget: praying for our leaders and our country.

Praying is the most important thing we can do, first, because God commands it:

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,
for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth

I Timothy 2:1-4

God desires that our leaders come to know Him and govern in a Godly way.

Second, when we pray, we have direct access to the One who is in authority over all earthly authorities. God is the only one who can change or re-direct the heart of a leader:

The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1

A Godly response to authority may not always be easy, but it is fairly simple: respect authority; obey God; work for change; pray hard.

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