The Christian and Government

by Harvey Porter, Albuquerque, New Mexico

It is difficult to respect and have a good feeling toward government today. We have had many in high office disappoint us by stealing funds, giving preferential treatment, lying, adultery, homosexuality, and no respect for the oath of office which they took. The word politics has a bad connotation. We think of graft and cronyism and double-dealing.

Think of government in the time of New Testament Christianity. Rome ruled the western world. Often Christians were persecuted and could not worship publicly. The emperor was considered a god. Often citizens were put to the loyalty test by being made to burn a pinch of incense and say "Caesar is god!" Those who refused to do this simple act were put to death. Many Christians died because they would not say, "Caesar is god." We are amazed, however, that the New Testament writers all said that God wanted them, and us now, to have deep respect for all government. Notice what Paul wrote to the church at Rome.

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves" (Romans 13:1,2).

"Everyone must submit...." The Christian is not exempt from paying taxes, serving his country, saluting the flag, or being a good citizen. Can we imagine how hard this must have been under the cruel, unjust, heathen, godless Roman government? Yet, Paul was proud that he was a Roman citizen and claimed his citizenship for the privileges it provided in saving his life when the Jews would have taken it unjustly. Submit means that we will obey the laws of the land. If they are unjust laws, we will seek to change them in the proper way. We will not burn, destroy, or threaten life. There is a due process of law. A law that is directly opposed to the Word of God would not be obeyed. For Peter said, "We must obey God rather than man." This is rare. Our country does not force us to go against our religious beliefs which are sane and biblically based. There are some sects that fight with the government over some of their unorthodox beliefs, but this does not represent the whole of Christianity.

Paul continued by saying, "There is no authority except that which God has established." The authorities that have been established by government are better than chaos. Every man cannot do his own thing. We all have to obey laws that are designed for the common good. We have to live in a community. God knew that when He created the universe and man. That is why He established government. The common good must be upheld; the tranquility must be maintained.

New Testament Christians are always good citizens. Good government is from God and His people are in tune with the good things of life. They do not seek to destroy the society or disrupt the peace. They want a high moral tone for society. They want all to be honest and hard-working, not self-seeking, but giving and sharing with others. Christian principles parallel the standards of good government.

Let us all give thanks to God for the great country in which we live. Let us follow Paul's admonition to pray for those who are in high places, our governing officials. This is the will of God. It is Christian!

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, Jul/Aug 1996