Kim Davis took an oath to uphold the Kentucky Constitution which forbids same-sex marriage. As a result of her refusal, Judge David Bunning put her in jail until she complies. There are many Christians who are arguing that Christians must submit in obedience to every government decree. Here’s the question: can a biblical case be made for not complying with a government edict that violates a Christian’s governmental oath or forces him or her to violate some higher law principle?
Does Romans 13 forbid any form of Christian resistance?
Peter and John were arrested “because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 4:2). Even after their release, they continued to preach the gospel, “for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard” (v. 20).
Some Christians conclude, based solely on their understanding of Romans 13 and Matthew 22:21, without any consideration of other passages, that Christians are obligated to obey those in authority no matter what the command or circumstances.
As Christians made an impact on society, they received harsh treatment from those who had “no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). At the preaching of the gospel, “Jason and some brethren” were dragged “before the city authorities” with the following charge made against them (Acts 17:6): “These men [Paul and Silas] who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus” (17:6-7; cf. 4:12).
There is nothing new under the sun. The early Christians faced numerous challenges by angry citizens and powerful ecclesiastical and civil rulers. The Bible does not support either anarchy or revolution as ways to advance God’s kingdom. The church has always been anti-revolutionary but pro-resistance…
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