By Jack Glover
In speaking of the Christian’s obligation to government, we often quote Rom. 13:1. “Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God.”
We are certainly right in stressing the responsibility one has to follow the laws under which he lives. Peter stated it this way: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (I Pet. 2:13-17). We must obey government unless its laws attempt to override God’s laws (Acts 5:29).
But there is another side to this issue spoken of in the latter part of Rom. 13:4, which says, “But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” The Christian should not only obey government but should expect government to protect him from, and to punish, those who practice evil. God expects that of government, just as he expects you and me to obey laws.
It is in this that we see a failure in our current government, no matter the political party. Yes, it does protect us from some evils but not all. In fact, it encourages some evil by the laws our elected officials pass or by ignoring sinful actions.
Why does our government even bother to discuss stem-cell research, abortion, homosexuality, gambling, drunkenness, fornication, adultery, sorcery and many other sins under the guise of entertainment, tax sources, freedom of expression, lifestyle, women’s choice, etc.? Seldom do we hear a member of Congress or the president appeal to sin as a reason for opposing an action or proposed law when that is what God expects of them. In reality, they ignore the biblical description of sin and appeal to man’s reasoning, philosophy, the Constitution and other sources for failing to stand against things that are evil.
I recognize that some may think this teaching strange in our free society, but it is just as scriptural as Romans 13:1. It only requires reading a couple of more verses to see that government’s obligation to society is as great as society’s obligation to government.