Christians, Government and Moral Issues
There is a movement by some in the church to assert that government should stay out of trying to regulate moral issues such as abortion, prostitution, smoking of marijuana, etc. They will state each individual has the right to control his or her own body, action, speech, and property. Government's only role is to help individuals defend themselves from force and fraud.In hopes to “control” the involvement of government in their life, they are for the “legalizing” of those things which God has condemned. Don’t miss the magnitude of this point. They believe a Christian can support the legalization of things in a civil realm which God clearly opposes and that the Christian can still be in a right relationship with God. What passages in the scriptures teach that? The answer is simple; there are none.
There are some that will tell you this is just a matter of political beliefs. It is not. They will tell you they have great concern about the amount of involvement the government can/will have in telling us what we can or can’t do. Again, this is not the true point which needs to be addressed. Even if it was, what does the Bible tell us about governmental rule and our responsibility to government?
In Romans 13:1-7, the passage teaches that civil government is an ordinance of God. It is God’s will that communities of men shall be governed by laws set up by each respective community, city, state, nation, etc. Civil law is an extension of the arm of God from a social perspective. Civil government is about keeping social order. Rulers have a work to do which is authorized by God. They need to keep in mind their obligation to God (Psalms 33:12 – Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; Proverbs 14:34 – Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people). The universality of the duty of every citizen to be in subjection to the higher powers is stressed by “every soul” (13:1).
It is the duty of men to obey (as far as possible without violating God’s will) their government. WHY? The ultimate source of the government is God. God is making clear that ANY civil authority derives its origin, right and power from God. This is not to claim that it guarantees perfection of operation in government any more than it guarantees perfection of operation for the home, elderships, etc. Rulers are not infallible agents of perfection anymore than parents, husbands, elders, etc.
Marvin Weir correctly reasoned when he stated, “Paul charges his brethren to "be in subjection to the higher powers." The designation “higher powers” refers to the government in control of a nation, and "every soul" is to respect and submit to the "powers that be." No one is exempt from obeying the civil powers because these powers "are ordained of God." This does not mean that evil rulers and their evil deeds are sanctioned and approved by God. It is the principle of civil authority that is always approved by God and not human beings who abuse their God-given power and purpose. Rulers such as Nero, Hitler, and Stalin were permitted to rule over countries, not because of their high moral standards and personal goodness, but because they were acting in an official capacity of the government. All power (authority) is of God and He allows all governments to exist. To deny this fact is to deny Divine sovereignty. Any government may refuse to function within its God-given sphere, but God does not cause any man or government to do evil.”
Allegiance to the civil powers certainly does not take precedence over allegiance to God. Allegiance to God necessarily involves our respect for and submission to the civil powers. But, in the event that the civil powers make a demand of a Christian which is out of harmony with, or contrary to God's law, then the principle stated in Acts 5:29 applies: "Peter said, We must obey God rather than men." As long as there is no conflict the Christian needs to be viewed as a model citizen. In the event of conflicting demands, Christians will obey God rather than men.
Civil law is ordained by God. God insists that people obey the law of the land except when in violation of conscience and Scripture. Given these two points, how can a Christian support the legalization, by a government ordained by God, of those things which clearly violate the word of God and, if “legalized”, would cause the Christian to refuse obedience to that government in these areas? It simply can’t be done. It is illogical, hypocritical and has no scriptural basis.
Law is to protect society against evil, not to facilitate it. Throughout the Bible, God insists that people obey the law of the land except when in violation of conscience and Scripture.
But the real issue at hand is not one of political beliefs or how involved I want the government to be in my life. The real issue is how a Christian is to conduct themselves in this life. Can a Christian support the legalization of those things which God has condemned and fulfill the mission God has for us? Is the real issue at hand (How a Christian is to conduct themselves in all matters) really a matter of opinion or is there a doctrinal issue at hand? You know the answer to that. It is a doctrinal issue.
What are the instructions for a Christian as it relates to our existence in the world? Christ tells us in Matthew 28:20 that we are to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Can I effectively preach the gospel when in the civil realm I’m supporting the legalization of those things which oppose the teachings of God?
Christ says in Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” How does a Christian show himself as the light of the world and the salt of the earth if on one hand he supports making legal in the civil sector those things which are clearly accursed by God and then turns around, when trying to reach the lost and states, “but I believe these things are a sin.” Hypocrite! How could one vote for or support sin if God says it is a reproach?
Think about the first three verses of Colossians 3:
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” This establishes the attitude with which we approach this topic as well as others. If we are new creatures, baptized into Christ, then our goals and desires are not related to this earth but to the spiritual realm, which is above. This being true, we also think differently. We do not think in the same manner as those of the world, but in the manner of those who are spiritual. This means we seek to serve the Lord with all of our mind, soul, and body. There is no thought of pleasing self but of pleasing God by being loyal and obedient with all of our hearts.
How about Col. 3:17? “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Is supporting the legalization of things which God condemns really fulfilling the spirit of this passage?
It is the clear teaching of Scripture that Christians are not to just acknowledge a higher standard, but to live to the higher standard. It is a standard of purity and holiness. The standard is convincingly set forth throughout the Word of God. I Peter 1:13-16 tells us, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy.” In Ephesians 5:1 we’re told, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” These are sobering words: they link us uniquely to God and obviously bare serious, Biblical significance. Simply explained, God’s call is that Christians are to be different. Distinguishable from the popular culture in how they think and conduct themselves. Consider what Christ says in Matthew 5:16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
We are to individually and collectively to be a peculiar people. I Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Christians are to be non-conformists, not just robots on cruise control. Romans 12:1-2 states, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Whether a Christian promoting/supporting the legalization of things which God has condemned is right or wrong is NOT a matter of opinion. It is a doctrinal position. It is sin. That has been made very clear.
A Christian promoting such views stands in direct opposition to God and therefore must repent. Peter told Simon to “Pray God that the thoughts of your heart might be forgiven you.” Repentance involves condemning that position which was previously held and teaching the truth on the subject.
One last thought; does anyone honestly believe Christ, if he were here today, would state that he believes a civil government should legalize those things which God has condemned? Would Christ state that a Christian could promote such notions and be reconciled to God? The answer is emphatically NO!