Since the election the talk of the Christian blogosphere has been a reminder and call to submit to authorities as the Bible tells us in Romans 13. Any reader of my blog knows I am a political dissident. How do I react to Romans 13? I believe the whole Scripture, I believe we are called to submit… but also:
1. Don’t give up the freedom that we have to speak out. We have been given great freedom in this country to speak out, to protest, to be active participants in the political process. It is not more Biblical to be silent, it is not sinful to speak with passion. Our laws give us that freedom and therefore we are in full compliance with Romans 13. BUT, if we neglect that right, if we stay silent, we may hasten a time when we no longer have that freedom.
2. The Bible is not without example of descent. A quick search revealed an article at http://web.acsalaska.net/~dcornwall/holydissent.html finding examples in the Bible of political rebellion, illegal militia, criticizing government conduct and legal proceedings, war opposition, refusal to obey orders, etc. A student of history will also recognize that the idea of political liberty is rooted in the Reformation. There would be no democracy without it.
Dissecting all of this is beyond the scope of this article and not a thought exercise I have worked through. For the purposes of this article we will conclude that submission to authority does not mean a lack of active opposition, it does not mean weakness.
3. Can we pray for CHANGE in Obama’s heart? Yes we can. We pray for our leaders, and many Christians are now doing just that. But what are we praying for? This was going through my head in care group last night and I was delighted at the prayer of a brother for Obama to be saved, to be postured towards God as Nebecanezzar was.
A non-Christian doesn’t enjoy the blessing and protection of God. A non-Christian does not have godly wisdom. Romans tells us the condition of the heart of an unbeliever:
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
So in our prayers it is not really wisdom or protection that we are after, but a changed heart. Without a changed heart, Romans suggest wisdom and ultimately protection are not even possible. Short of a changed heart, it is intervention that we need. Cyrus didn’t really have a changed heart or wisdom, but God’s intervention caused him to make a decree favorable to God’s people.
These may be semantics, but it fills out the total picture of submission to authority. We’re not to bring a posture of disobedience, we should check our heart. But the action of submission to authority is not our primary goal, its not our passion. It is a duty that we render while we continue within a godly framework to defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow.
Don’t lose the fire, don’t give up the fight, do it in a way that also recognizes God’s sovereignty over all authorities.