Godsbooklover finally weighing in on this conversation! Warning: this is long and has no pictures. Read at your own risk.
I’ve been pondering the Supreme Court decision for a couple of days now, in my spare minutes not devoted to caring for granddaughter, volunteering at a mercy ministry, and coping with a power outage after a terrific windstorm here on Friday afternoon. (Some 100,000 households won’t get electricity back until some time Tuesday or Wednesday, but our family is staying with kind friends, so we are now cool and connected.)
As surprised and incensed as I was, JTR was more so, and he was ready with a scathing and articulate response, so I felt it wasn’t really necessary for me to add my two cents right away. The sentence of my brother’s that resonated most with me was actually in one of his comments:
I answer to a higher power than that, and I don’t recall the Bible saying that I should do all in my power to be a “good slave”.
Here is where I have to gently differ with my dear brother, just a little bit. God’s Word does in fact call me to be a good slave, literally and figuratively. Mary understood herself to be a slave to the LORD when the angel announced that she would bear the Messiah. The Good News of salvation is that through Christ we are free from the bondage of sin: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:22) We are all, as Christians, called to present ourselves, body and soul, to the One Master over us all (Romans 12:1).
The Bible does not say we should willingly enslave ourselves to anyone. The apostle Paul preaches contentment with circumstances to new Christians–whether slave or free–in a culture where slavery was common and often temporary (as in payment for a debt). But never does he imply that we should be ‘slaves’ to our government. He does preach obedience to those in authority, in his letter to the Roman church, chapter 13, verses 1-7.
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (NIV)
Paul is stating that no one rules unless God has allowed them to–which does not at all imply that God is approving of every civil authority. (I suspect it’s more along the lines of every nation getting the leadership it deserves…) God puts a high value on order and government, and Christians are not to be rebellious, unless–and to the extent that–a government commands something which is against the Christian’s conscience and God’s revealed will. Here is an excerpt from an excellent and balanced article from Biblical scholar Greg Herrick, his commentary on Romans 13:
What Paul wants then, according to Romans 13:1 is willing, intelligent submission to the authorities, out of humility, because one is conscience of God’s appointing and working through them. Underlying Paul’s injunction is the understanding that the government is doing what God has appointed it for—that it knows between right and wrong (13:3) and carries out its role of maintaining harmony among the citizens.
A few other things must be said about submission to governmental authorities. Paul is not putting his carte blanche on all government actions per se, but is instead upholding the principle (13:1b) of “government and order” as an end towards responsible, peaceful living in a fallen world. When a government fulfills its functions of maintaining peace, and generally protects the welfare of its people, both against those from within and without who would threaten these things, then it is carrying out the end to which it was appointed. It must be obeyed even if some things are tough—e. g. paying high taxes. But, when it crosses these boundaries and becomes an instrument for evil, violating the explicit will of God as outlined in Scripture, then it must not be followed (i.e. obeyed) at that point.When the explicit will of God conflicted with certain authorities, Peter said we must obey God, not men (Acts 5:29).
So while everything in my human nature says, “How dare you tell me what to buy?!”–it is not that command per se which should prompt me, as a Christian, to civil disobedience. It is rather the fact that this enforced taxation, as it is now acknowledged to be, will be used to pay for abortions and abortifacient drugs that makes me unwilling to participate in this scheme. If you’d like to see a comprehensive itemized breakdown of the anti-biblical portions of the Health Care bill, click on the link to a PDF from the Alliance Defense Fund.
My husband and I would willingly join my brother in jail. I pray, however, for the sake of the granddaughter who depends on us, that it will not come to that.