"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Honor The King

UPDATED: 09:00 EDT/ GMT -4  on Monday, June 13, 2011

In conversation amongst Bible believers and at the same time contemplating current events and outrageous behavior by government (I know, I know; when does that not happen?), it seems inevitable that the Scriptural admonition to obey the rulers appointed over us comes into play.

Not that I have any illusions that folks so inclined to study only that which they want to, and believe that which they want to, are going to be swayed by anything I have to say on the matter, I've stewed over this issue in my mind and prayed about it for a couple of weeks now, wanting to be sure that I wasn't letting my own desire cloud my judgment regarding this matter.

I will continue to think on it long and hard and always be open to deeper truth about it, but right now, I'm ready to hold court.

There are several verses in the Bible regarding obedience to authority, but the one that gets misused and abused the most by Christians is Paul's admonition to the congregation in Rome; specifically in chapter thirteen.  Yet they take his words and not only do they isolate them from all the rest of the text of Scripture but they isolate the first part from the rest of the context in which Paul places it.

"Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, an those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.  For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.  Do you want to have no fear of authority?  Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good.  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 upon the one who practices evil. . . ."  Romans 13:1-5 (NASB)

I say this verse gets misused and abused because, going back to Bill Clinton, when the sitting president was doing things that were blatantly wrong, unlawful, and in direct violation of the Constitution and I expressed my disgust over such actions, I was admonished with the verse above.  When I have said that I have nothing but utter contempt for the president, be he Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush or the current golfer using the People's House, I have had Christians react as if I was doing something I should repent of and be ashamed for doing.  Truly wishing to do the right thing and honor the ultimate authority, the Creator of the universe, I've prayed for wisdom in this regard.  Following my own admonitions to take the entire Bible as my counsel, I will lay out the case in my defense.

God repeatedly warned His people that they should not want a king. He expressly warned them in 1 Samuel chapter 8 that requesting a king would result in lots of bad stuff.  The irony was that the people were asking for a king "like the other nations" because the sons of the priest Eli were corrupt.  But rather than pray to Adonai for deliverance, they choose to jump from the frying pan into the fire by asking for someone who would have greater, consolidated power over them to oppress them even more.  Go figure.  The bottom line is that those who ask for a human king are rejecting God.  What I have learned from this that when I talk to those who express concern over showing respect and deference to human rulers, I often find a corresponding lack of respect and concern for God's Word.  Perhaps I can delve more deeply into examples of that later, but the short of it is that I see many examples of Christians who will disobey God's direct commandments because they can use the cover of obeying man-made law.

God had rules for the king that He appointed.  When that king got out of line, God sent a prophet to give correction.  This scenario is repeated enough throughout the Bible that I shouldn't need to cite examples.  The text of Romans 13 quoted above has been abused for centuries, outside of the theocratic/monarchy of Israel, and is known as "divine right of kings" justifying monarchies in doing any damnable and horrific thing they wanted to do. Yet, if you read what Paul writes in whole and in context, the assumption is that our obedience is in the mundane, benign and beneficial aspects.  The instruction of Romans 13 is not to obey everything and in all circumstances.  Once again, in taking the whole counsel of the Bible, I can cite Peter in Acts, after having been commanded by the Sanhedrin to never preach about Yeshua/Jesus again, that the Apostles must obey God rather than men.  Yet here was a body of rulers who had the ostensible authority of God Himself.  And let's not forget that Yeshua Himself had told the disciples that those religious leaders sat in Moses' seat and had the authority to declare halakhah (the right way to do things).

In other words, we are called to obey when the rulers are ruling in the right way and demanding good behavior, but when the rulers are demanding that we directly disobey God, we have no choice but to rebel.
What I find very interesting in my own case is that I have not rebelled against any authority of the president of the United States.  I have merely expressed my contempt for the president and many members of congress showing flagrant disregard for the Law and the Constitution, appointing others who do the same and proceeding to destroy the United States of America.

Somehow this erroneous thinking has crept into the minds of Americans that we have a government system that is something like a monarchy or oligarchy.  This is wrong.  The founding fathers debated, argued and reasoned out that nothing good could possibly come from two forms of government: democracy and oligarchy.

Let me pause here to say that I am using oligarchy very broadly.  Elected representatives come and go, but the idea is that a group of people are ruling us and not representing us or following the supreme law of the land, the Constitution.  The whole purpose of creating a Constitution was to put chains on government.  To protect the individual as a sovereign entity, able to follow the dictates of his own conscience to follow God.  And do not make the mistake of leaving off the very important words "to follow God."  John Adams put it best when he said that the Constitution was designed for the governance of a religious and moral people and that it was wholly inadequate for any other.  Check the sidebar for my page on other essential quotes.

On the flip side of the coin, our founders totally detested the idea of democracy.  Yes, I said that correctly.  Yes, I do know what I'm talking about.  The proof of what I write is in the history, debates, writings, minutes of the meetings of Congress, the federalist and anti-federalist papers.  The founders loathed the idea of democracy.  It was a pleasure to find that idea expressed in the movie, "The Patriot" by Mel Gibson:

"Tell me, sir, why should I trade one tyrant 3,000 miles away for 3,000 tyrants one mile away?  A legislature can trample a man's rights just as easily as a king can."

But I digress.  The founding fathers did not want a king and they didn't want an oligarchy, and to try to prevent that from happening, they created a Constitution that was purposely designed to make it very hard and cumbersome to pass laws or do anything to rule over the people.  In fact, the founders created our form of government with the express idea that we DON'T HAVE RULERS.  We are supposed to have elected public servants who are supposed to understand that the power to administer only those things that are necessary to an orderly society, borrow their power from the sovereign people.  When you see members of Congress, or the Executive branch, or even the Supreme Court as rulers, you have fallen into a dangerous trap.  You have gotten stuck on stupid.  You deserve to be told what to do by people who think there are 57 States, vote on 2,000 page bills that create dictatorial power for bureaucrats, and send lewd and obscene pictures of themselves over the internet.  You need a first lady to be your nanny and tell you what to eat.

As another example of how evil it can be to carry the passage from Romans 13 to absurd extreme; what if you were living in Germany under Adolf Hitler after he acquired all the dictatorial control of the country?  Would you have quoted Romans 13 to Dietrich Boenhoffer or Corrie Ten Boom?  Would you have cooperated in revealing the hiding places of Jews or gone out to help round them up?

As a Christian in today's United States, would you work in an abortion mill?  It's the law of the land, right?  Five out of nine justices on the Supreme Court in 1973 said that the right to kill a baby in the womb was something that existed in the Constitution.  Right there.  In invisible ink.  Between the lines of other black marks. Somewhere.  It's there, just trust us.  We went to law school.

If you were a Christian during the civil rights movement in the sixties, how would you have felt if someone quoted Romans 13 to you in an effort to make you sit down and shut up while black people were being persecuted and denied their rights to equal treatment under the law?

It would be bad enough for so-called believers in God to try to correct me with Scriptures such as Romans 13 if we lived in an actual monarchy when the king or queen was doing things that were blatantly against God's law,  or even against plain decency and common morality.  But it truly makes me sick when they use Romans 13 as if it even remotely applies to an administration or congress or even the Supreme court that is openly and flagrantly violating the ultimate and supreme law of the land, and expects me to show respect for it.

I don't think so, Sparky.

The only thing necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.  So I will continue to express the reasons why the president and many members of congress are fully deserving of contempt and derision for violating their oaths of office; for entering into their positions with the full intention of violating that oath and doing the things they do in order to "transform" this society.

You people who like to quote Romans 13 need to go look at the exchange between Paul and the high priest in the Temple in Acts 23. Ananias unrighteously orders that Paul be struck. When Paul calls him on his evil act, Ananias appeals to his own position of Kohen Gadol.  But Paul, in so many words, corrects that error by pointing out that the man's unlawful use of his power rendered his position meaningless.  I don't need to engage in any deep midrashic thought to understand the lesson there for myself as a believer.  It means that God does not condemn me for expressing contempt for those who abuse their position or authority.

Paul wrote that passage above because this radical new idea of freedom in Messiah was already being abused by some people as an excuse to not follow any law or earthly authority.  Such thinking needed to be corrected.

If we are never supposed to criticize anyone in authority, you need to explain to me why Yeshua said what He said to the Pharisees and Sadduccees.  I'm going to give you the same advice that Messiah gave to those same religious leaders:  "Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment."

1 comment:

  1. Well summed up in your final quote. Even my homeschooled children have gotten confused by the twisted clamor of the world not to judge. This is a vital understanding which needs to be wrestled through in order to develop discernment towards our government, others, and ourselves.

    God's peace,


Please don't make me disable comments because you couldn't maintain decorum and civil discourse. You can disagree all you want to, just don't get nasty.