Monday, July 03, 2006

Obeying the Government

Romans 13:1-7
1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.


Alright, I am posting a ponderance, something that I just don't have a conclusion on, and something I'd really like to figure out. I think it is established Christian consensus that the Bible teaches we are to obey those placed in authority over us. That in doing so ultimately it is God who we are obeying, and it does not matter if the authority over us recognizes this fact or not. It also is rather clear that if the authority over us commands us to do something that God forbids or forbids that which God commands then we are to obey God's law first. So in relation to the Christian and his government we obey the laws- pay our taxes, go the speed limit, get our driver's license, and don't park in the handicap space. These are laws that have no morality in and of themselves- they are simply civil laws that order society. If the government didn't require that we get a license to drive we would be under no command from God to do so, but the government has decreed this and so we do it and in doing so obey God as well.

There are laws which do deal with morality- do not steal, do not murder. Even if the government didn't have laws prohibiting this, we would still be under commands from God to neither steal nor murder.

And there are still other moral laws which are only in God's word. The government does not have a law against fornication or adultery, but God does and we are to obey His law.

But what about the things which aren't in God's law, which the government has a law pertaining to, and are moral issues? What do we do with those? There are many things that we as Christians develop strong convictions about. They are subjects which we do feel a great sense of calling about and place it as a moral matter. Things which come to mind are parenting practices, medical practices, and schooling practices. What do we do when the government has laws which we require something that we truly believe is wrong but that God's law is silent about? For example- what if the government says all babies must be born in a hospital, given certain medications, and have certain procedures performed on them. No exceptions, no loop holes, you must do it. Or that no one is allowed to school formally at home? Or your family must follow a specific diet which meets the government RDA for all items? What do we as Christians do with this? We aren't required to have babies at home or at hospitals by God, but we may feel very strongly that this isn't something the government should be regulating. We aren't required by God to eat meat or not to eat meat- but what is the government says we are? We aren't required by God to seek medical treatment for illnesses, but what if the government says we are? At what point do the realities of these beliefs and the morality involved in them become strong enough that it is acceptable to disobey the government on?

Honestly, I'm not sure I like the implications of this line of thinking...I am a big believer in the right of individual families to make decisions for themselves about how they parent, how they eat, how they live. But we're not given the right to all of that by God. Yes, we are to worship Him and Him alone and we are to do that and proclaim His word whether or not the government says it is ok. But these other issues of how we live life are left up to where we are lead personally by God and where the spirit convicts us. One family may be lead very definitely into homeschooling, while another family is not, just in the same way one family may be lead to start a church while another is not. But does that first family have the blessing of God's word to disobey the government if the government forbids homeschooling? I honestly don't know.

We recently had the opportunity to come up against personal convictions clashing with government law. Our second daughter was born in February and there are state laws that mandate certain medications be given at the time of birth. Right now there are exception clauses which we qualify for and used to get out of the majority of these medications, but one medication has no legal exemption for it and those parents who refuse it are reported to CPS. I never could find out from anyone what happened after the parents are reported, but they are reported because they are breaking a law. Now, I personally believe the medication to be harmful (and have done the research to back up this opinion) and because I believe it to be harmful don't think I can in good conscience subject my children to it. To me it seems to do so would be grievously wrong- to knowingly subject my baby whom God has entrusted me with to a procedure that I think the evidence says is dangerous makes me sick to my stomach. How can I do that and stand before my creator and say that I cared for His blessing in the way that I ought? BUT on the other hand....(and here is where I get all jumbled) God requires of me my obedience to the governing authorities and different sources have differing views on the harm of this medication, so why do I decide to go with one source over the other and in doing so disobey the government that I have been told to obey? Ugh. I don't know how this is suppose to work out. I really really don't. I think it is wrong for the government to make laws saying how a family should parent, medicate, educate, etc. But God doesn't say that it is wrong for the government to make such laws. (or at least I'm not aware that He does- if He does, please pass the info along as this would make things more cut and dry) And in our government we do have theoretical ways to pursue change in governmental laws. Now, I don't think with the way things currently work with lobbyist and big money pushing their own agenda that the average family has much chance of enacting change in the law, but does that change the way we are to act in the matter? Once again, I don't know.

I do know that my convictions to homeschool, not vaccinate, discipline, etc. aren't specifics mandated by God for all of His Church. But I do believe that the Lord provides us with wisdom for our particular family when we fear and seek him and it is wisdom and goes beyond theology, but into all areas of our life. So, is this leading of God's wisdom on the same footing as such explicit commands from God to worship Him, to preach His name, to make disciples, to not murder, to not steal, etc.? I really really don't know. I would however love to hear from anyone else on this matter, any applicable Bible passages or teaching on the matter, and how your families personally deal with this.

6 Comments:

At July 05, 2006 2:46 PM, Blogger Spunky said...

I think part of our confusion is that the state has usurped our authority. They have mandated things that they have no business being involved in. Then we are forced into these dilemmas. In a truly free society this would not be the case. Matters such as discipline and vaccination should not be in the legal arena. Where there is abuse there are remedies. But state mandated requirements are not in that category.

 
At July 05, 2006 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly with Spunky and would go so far as to say that Scripture DOES address this when it says to render unto Caesar the things that are his and unto Father the things that are HIS - our children do NOT belong to Caesar!
Dawn

 
At July 05, 2006 10:13 PM, Blogger Tiffany said...

Spunky- I totally agree. A situation has been created by too much government in too many arenas of society. There are many things a good governement can and should be involved in, but the sort of micro-managing that goes on in this (and other countries) is ridiculous. We're still left to deal with it, even though it really shouldn't be this way to begin with. Of course I suppose that is what much of this life under the sun is about.

Dawn, I hadn't thought about that passage and its applicability before. It really does seem to apply to these sorts of situations. How do we then determine that which is Caesars though?

 
At December 02, 2007 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats why babylon will fall. We were to live as Adam and Eve lived.

 
At December 03, 2007 10:36 AM, Blogger Tiffany said...

Do you care to elaborate a little bit anon?

 
At June 20, 2010 12:21 PM, Blogger EroMraB said...

I've got to say that America is no where near in it's depravity to that of the Roman Empire, and still God said to obey them.

I mean, God protected his people from the fire in Daniel because they chose to worship Him, even when the government said it was illegal. I would go as far as to say to worship Him through your obedience and trust that the God who can protect people from being burnt up in flames can protect your children from the possible dangers of medications (which, by the way, are no where near as dangerous as not having them).

 

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