The setting was the Roman Empire. From his prison cell, the Apostle Paul was writing letters to churches and individuals instructing them on the faith—teaching doctrine through words that would be read and parsed down through the generations.
It was a bad time to be a Christian. Not in the grand scheme of things, for Christianity was growing and spreading in a manner that startled world leaders, but in the sense that one could be put to death in the most cruel manners (crucifixion, human torch, fed to lions, etc.).
It was with this backdrop that Paul instructed believers about those that rule over us:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves [dang]ation. – Romans 13:1-2
The passage goes on to say that all rulers are ordained by God for the purpose of keeping the law, and that we ought to pay taxes to them. Ouch.
As we look at the coming to power of the administration, and as many of us watched President Obama take the oath of office1 on Inauguration day, there were many different responses around the corner of the blogosphere that I read.
Some were indignant, choosing to ignore the Inauguration because of person animosity toward the man or his policies. Some ignored the entire event, choosing to focus on other things going on that day. Some tried to take a position of unity (where possible), looking for things to agree on in his speech, trying to call him “my President”, and looking for the opportunity to hope/pray that he wouldn’t be what he said he was.
The latter are the ones I’m concerned about when it comes to this passage of Scripture.
Respect vs. Agreement
I can show respect to someone I disagree with. It’s shown in the way that I carry myself. It’s shown in the language that I use. It’s shown in how I react when I’m not in the company of that individual.
I can disagree with the policies of an individual. I can believe he’s dead wrong. In a Democratic Republic with the freedom of speech I’m free to say so. I believe that I cross that line when I stop talking about policies and start attacking the person. I also believe I cross the line when I make someone with whom I’m not familiar into the familiar.
That’s why you won’t hear me refer to President Obama as “His High Lord Obama, the Most Merciful” like you hear from Rush Limbaugh. Rush’s making a point about how much President Obama has built himself up, and they way that some are reverencing him, but to mock him in this way also walks across the line I’ve personally set for respecting the man.
However, just like everything in this culture war, I will be pointing out things like FOCA2, etc. I will illustrate why they are wrong and why I believe that they’re not the best for the country.
That’s my civic duty.
- at the least the first time
- The Freedom of Choice Act that will invalidate all state laws governing abortion—like parental notification laws.