With the revelation in recent years about clergy response teams where the government brainwashes pastors into teaching churchgoers to submit to their authority and the U.S. Supreme Court affirming gay marriage, Christians are concerned about what it will do to them personally and to their churches. Will their churches lose 501c3 tax exempt status if they don’t fall in line with government demands? Don’t Romans 13:1-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-4, and 1 Peter 2:13-17 command us to obey what the government tells us?
I did a post a few years back entitled, “Are Christians commanded to always submit to authorities?”, where I discuss these three scriptures at length. Based on the context of the scriptures, I came to the following conclusion:
The notion that we are obligated to obey authorities no matter what the circumstances is erroneous teaching by Christians who hold that view. The context of these scriptures clearly mean that when authorities are in line with God, we should obey those authorities. This implies by default that when authorities are in clear violation of God’s principles, God does not expect us to submit to their ungodly ordinances.
I would go so far as to say that any church or individual claiming to be Christian that submits to ungodly practices demanded by any human authority, government or otherwise, would be in direct violation of God’s commands. And this is supported in a great many places throughout scripture. Here’s what the Lord said through his prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 51:11-13–
Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?
The fury of the oppressor is nothing compared to obedience to the Lord and the blessings that come with it. Then we have the New Testament words of the Lord to back this up in Matthew 10:27-28:
What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Then we can go back to what the Lord said in Isaiah 62:6-7 which can be applied to all saints since we are citizens of the spiritual Jerusalem:
I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
No government anywhere on Earth has the right or authority to tell us to shut up about God’s word. Jerusalem has not yet been made a praise in the earth, which means the Christian message must continue, in season or out of season. Woe is me if I preach not the gospel! We as saints should not worry what any President, any court, any Prime Minister, any murderous pagan army or mob says anywhere. Yes, there may be times we will have to flee after we speak our piece (Matthew 10:23) and at other times we may have to get righteously indignant and call people out to their faces (Acts 13:8-11), or we may lose our livelihood and lives (Hebrews 11:36-37), but our message as found in God’s word must continue in spite of people feeling offended by it.
In closing, I would urge any church to look at Smyrna and Pergamos in Revelation 2 as examples. They were at the center of the Roma goddess cult, which deified the Roman government as a goddess as sanctioned and promoted by the Roman Empire, often celebrated with temple prostitution. Yet the Lord Jesus ordered the churches not to participate in the common accepted practice of that culture to fornicate and worship idols–government included.
Harry A. Gaylord