Christian Submission to Government

It’s true that the Bible tells us to submit to government; in other words: don’t break the law or rebel or overthrow the govt (the only exception to breaking the law is if that law is forcing you to sin). For someone like myself who strongly distastes most govt laws and actions (and views most of them as evil), this Biblical command is particularly hard to swallow as I’ve gradually come to terms with it over the past couple years. But, indeed we must obey and submit, even if the govenment is wrong and is harming us. But, one must not draw a certain other incorrect conclusion from this. Some people might think that, if God tells us to submit to govt, then that means that God is saying that govt is always right and its laws are morally good. This simply does not follow.

To aid in understanding this, let’s look at some other biblical parallels. In Matthew 5:39, Jesus says, “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Remembering “turn the other cheek”, just because an aggressor is hitting you and you should not forcefully resist does not mean that it’s right or permissible for the aggressor to hit you. And, just because we should “not resist an evil person” does not mean that that person is no longer evil. Simply put, the command of submission to an aggressor does not imply that the aggressor’s actions are right. As should be obvious from our own observation, it’s still possible that governments do wrong and evil (possibly even most of the time) toward their subjects. The Biblical command of submission to government does not imply that any of its laws are good and right.

On a side note, how does this apply to the American War of Independence in 1776. I haven’t completely ironed out my thoughts on the subject in general; I’m still trying to figure things out. But, unfortunately, and I say that because I used to look fondly upon the 1776 war, I don’t think that there was a Christian justification for secession from Britain. They levied a few small taxes and tried to regulate our international commerce. That’s typical of most governments and is actually very mild as far as oppression goes. Our own government today does much much worse than Britain did to us in the 18th century. Regardless of the oppression level, frankly, it appears that the 1776 rebellion was a sinful act by the very fact that it was rebellion against government, and so we should not have rebelled against Britain, even though Britain sucked.

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