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Romans 13: Should We Obey or Not Obey?
Recently a friend of mine was making the argument that the Bible has been corrupted. He based this argument partially on the Bible passage from Romans 13 saying that this passage is a corruption because it has been used by certain religious groups to convince Christians to “stand down” in the face of a tyrannical government. I would like to state right off the bat that I do not believe that the Bible is or has been corrupted and that topic is for another discussion/blog/argument/whatever. What I do want to write about it is the controversy surrounding Romans chapter 13 as stated below:
Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Rom 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
Rom 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Rom 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
Rom 13:6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Rom 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Rom 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Rom 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Rom 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
Rom 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
Rom 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
Rom 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Apparently this passage has been used and is continually being used to convince Christians that they should NOT resist tyranny or evil when the government is doing it. I have read that Hitler used this passage as well with the churches in order to quell any resistance at that time.
I argue that this passage was not put in the Bible so that Christians could become cowards in the face of tyranny or evil but it was put in the scripture by God to remind Christians that we should obey authority when that authority is within the perimeters of God's will. Whenever scripture is to be interpreted it is not to be interpreted outside of the context of the entire word of God. That is, it is not to be taken out of context.
Do you think that Christians should submit to "ungodly laws based on Romans 13"?
I would like to submit three passages of scripture that I believe teach that if the government is tyrannical that we are, as Christians, encouraged (by scripture) to resist that government. They are:
Exo 1:15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:
Exo 1:16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.
Exo 1:17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.
Exo 1:18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?
Exo 1:19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.
Exo 1:20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.
In this passage God dealt well with the midwives when they specifically disobeyed the ungodly command to kill the Hebrew babies. Not only did God approve of this disobedience but he also rewarded the midwives.
The next passages are:
Mar 6:18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.
Mar 6:19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:
Luk 3:19 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's, and for all the evils which Herod had done,
Luk 3:20 Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison
John protested Herod's having his brother's wife as a lover and was arrested and ultimately murdered in prison for it. Jesus said of John that he was the greatest prophet. If we are to submit to the government then why did John protest Herod's infidelity? If we are to idly stand down while evil runs rampant John is not a very good example is he?
The next scripture is as follows:
Act 5:25 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.
Act 5:26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.
Act 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
Act 5:28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
Act 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Peter and all of the other apostles must be confused as well since they were very clear in their answer to the authorities saying “we ought to obey God rather than men”!
Additionally, if the view that we are to submit to all government regardless of it's evil nature is true then God would clearly be contradicting himself when he tells us to refuse the mark of the beast written about in Revelation 13:13.
(Rev 13:16) And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
(Rev 13:17) And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
(Rev 14:9) And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
(Rev 14:10) The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
It is my conclusion that Romans 13 was provided to instruct us that even though we have freedom in Christ, we are still to obey the laws of God that are provided in righteousness. However, once those laws violate the laws of God it is clear that we are to boldly protest, we are to use our wits to circumvent evil dictates and finally we are not to obey them. Now whether we are to sell our cloaks to buy a swords in order to violently oppose them, I will discuss at another time! :)
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