What I Read Today;
Romans 13; Matthew 13; Lamentations 4; Psalm 134; 1 Samuel 30
Romans 13 starts out by urging people to obey the civil authorities appointed over them. In the United States, we take “Civil Disobedience” to an art form. The country was founded on “Civil Disobedience.” Over 250 years of our history, we have struggled between the Rule of Law and Civil Disobedience.
I’ve never run for office. I’ve held various volunteer leadership positions in the church. Sometimes getting people moving in the same direction is akin to herding cats. In the United States, we tend to push the limits of the local authorities. If the speed limit is 70, most will drive 78. That’s just who we are as a people.
There’s also a question of obeying just laws and fighting against unjust laws. Should Christians obey laws that target the weakest among us? Were people correct in opposing slavery or Jim Crowe laws? What about requirements that disenfranchise women or minority groups?
We’re struggling now with governor’s orders that are designed to keep people from the Corona Virus, yet those same laws are forcing some business owners into bankruptcy.
These are legitimate struggles that the Christian faces as he decides whether to obey the government or struggle against the government.
Why would Paul make an issue out of obeying the same government that would eventually put him to death?
I think he answers that when he leaves verse 7 and heads into verses 8-10.
I think it’s incumbent upon us to examine what our government does in light of Verses 8-10.
The government does its duty when our government passes a law that says we should not steal from our neighbor that Law is protecting our neighbor’s property or ethically operate our businesses. Out of Christian love, we should obey that Law.
What do we do when our government passes laws allowing corporations to charge exorbitant fees for life-saving medications? Passing these laws will harm those around us and allow a few to benefit. It’s incumbent upon the Christian to fight against laws such as this.
When we view our government in this way, then it becomes easy to forget the labels of Republican and Democrat. As Christians, we can see each Law on its own merits. We can view our dissent through the eyes of Jesus. If the Law does harm to people, then our Christian duty is to oppose that Law.
An example of this might be the current executive orders to where masks or face coverings. Does it hurt me to wear a mask when I go to the store? No. Does my wearing a face-covering protect my neighbor? Yes. Then out of respect for the Law, and out of Christian love, I should wear a mask.
It gets harder when laws have dual consequences.
Currently, the executive orders have shut down small businesses. Yes, this protects people from acquiring the virus. Unfortunately, the order is also putting these business owners at risk of losing their livelihoods. The order has put the employees of that business out of work. What happens when a business owner can’t feed his family?
So what do we do when a law helps one person and harms another?
These are the moments when Christians must work with government officials soberly and calmly to craft ideas that protect both person’s lives. That’s what love demands. Love demands that we engage in difficult discussions. Love demands that we stop the name-calling, roll up our sleeves, and work with leaders to find solutions. That might mean that we work to remove intransigent leaders. However, we do everything we can to work with the leaders in power to make the system work for all.
That’s what love requires of us.