As I’m sure you know by now, Donald Trump’s election has spawned protests in certain cities across America. Considering all the rhetoric of the heated campaign between him and Hillary Clinton, these protests aren’t so surprising. For the most part they have been peaceful and non violent, but there has been some monetary damage done by way of broken windows and small-scale fires. There has also been some pushing and shoving between certain protestors and local police.
Now, I’m not about to write myself down into the quagmire of an issue-by-issue assessment of Trump’s campaign platform vs. Clinton’s. I know sincere Christians who voted for Trump, and I know sincere Christians who voted for Clinton. But what I would like to do with this post is explain what the Bible teaches about how the Christian should relate to whatever government he/she happens to be living under during any given period of history. I’ll leave all the passionate arguing and strong language for others.
Putting it simply, the Bible teaches that the Christian should submit to the authority of his/her government. This applies to Christians living in an America where Republican Donald Trump leads the government just as it would have applied to an America where Democrat Hillary Clinton led it. For that matter, it would have equally applied to an American government led by Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein. This simply isn’t that complicated. I realize it’s not what some Christians want to hear, but it’s the Biblical answer. Here are ten proof texts, five from the New Testament and five from the Old Testament. I could name ten more if I there was a need. (I’ll use the New Living Translation’s versions of these passages because it’s the easiest to understand, but any translations of the passages will teach the same thing.)
- Romans 13:1-7: “Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow. For the authorities do not frighten people who are doing right, but they frighten those who do wrong. So do what they say, and you will get along well. The authorities are sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong. So you must obey the government for two reasons: to keep from being punished and to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid so they can keep on doing the work God intended them to do. Give to everyone what you owe them. Pay your taxes and import duties, and give respect and honor to all to whom it is due.”
- Daniel 2:20-21: “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he alone has all wisdom and power. He determines the course of world events; he removes kings and sets others on the throne…”
- 1 Peter 2:11-14: “Dear brothers and sisters, you are foreigners and aliens here. So I warn you to keep away from evil desires because they fight against your very souls. Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world. For the Lord’s sake, accept all authority – the king as head of state, and the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish all who do wrong and to honor those who do right.”
- Psalm 75:6-7: “For no one on earth – from east or west, or even from the wilderness – can raise another person up. It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall.”
- Luke 20:22-25: “‘Now tell us – is it right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not?’ He saw through their trickery and said, ‘Show me a Roman coin. Whose picture and title are stamped on it?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. ‘Well then,’ he said, ‘give to Caesar what belongs to him….'”
- Daniel 4:25: “…the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.”
- John 19:10-11: “‘You won’t talk to me?’ Pilate demanded. ‘Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or to crucify you?’ Then Jesus said, ‘You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above…'”
- Jeremiah 29:7 (God’s command to the conquered Jews who had been carried off to Babylon): “And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray to the Lord for that city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you.”
- 1 Timothy 2:1-2: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God’s mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity.”
- Job 12:18: “He removes the royal robe of kings…”
As you read these passages you would do well to consider the specific governments and rulers they involve. Jesus and Paul lived under the Roman government. Was that a godly, Christian government? No way. Likewise, Daniel and those other Jews who got carried off to Babylon lived under the Babylonian government. Was that a godly government? Not a chance. And yet there is no verse to be found where God encourages His people to march in protest, lead a coup attempt, or organize an overthrow of either Rome or Babylon.
Actually, the only possible Bible example of God leading His people to resist the government under which they lived is Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Even in that story, though, God doesn’t order the Israelites to rebel against Pharaoh. Instead, He works to break Pharaoh and cause him to make the voluntary decision to let the Israelites go. You see, that’s still not God-sanctioned revolution.
Of course, some Christians try to hijack the words of Peter and the other apostles from Acts 5:29 and apply them to America. Those words are, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Seriously, though, is our United States government really forcing us to choose between obeying God and obeying our government? No, it isn’t. It might come to that one day, but it isn’t there yet, and so this whole excuse for rebellion doesn’t wash either.
So, Christian, I hope this Bible study has reminded you that God expects you to submit to your government. I’m not trying to rain on your parade, make you mad, or keep your voice from being heard, but I am trying to point you to what the Bible says about how you should relate to your government. God does want you to be salt and light where you are, but you don’t do that by going against truths and principles that are clear, consistent, and even prolific in His word. That’s just not the way that He wants you to conduct yourself, and that will never change with the latest election results whatever they may be.